I left the Hasidic world, the only lifestyle I’d ever known. My departure was dramatic. The only way to assert my growing disenchantment with religious life — and a variety of psychological burdens it had imposed — was to detach from it completely, to undergo a change in appearance and behavior that led to the inevitable dissociation from former friends and family.
Jewish values and community became the foundation of the mission for my public life and personal quest. For me, halakhah became a floor and not a ceiling. Ironically, Jewish law helps me fly — frees me rather than confines me, inspires me rather than weighs me down.
Competing notions of authentic Jewishness contribute to a growing rift in communal values — from collective origin to individual journeys, from affirming historical unity to embracing contemporary diversity, and from a focus on stable boundaries to the recognition of highly porous borders.
Stuart Z. Charmé Around the time my daughter turned 16 years old, she cut off most of her thick, long hair for an edgier and hipper look. She began to perform slam poetry, and she announced that she no longer saw herself as Jewish. Being Jewish, she said, just didn’t figure very much in her
Danya Ruttenberg For new parents, a prayer practice that one had before having children can change considerably — aesthetically or otherwise — after the birth of a child. Once my son was born, I found that with a baby in the sling, my davening became less about transcendence (or the attempt to get there); prayer
Rachel Klinghoffer For most of my career as a working artist, I have kept separate my personal sense of religion and my studio practice. Last fall, I began to reflect on this compartmentalization, exploring the relationship between my Jewishness and my approach to making art. This process of introspection suggested larger questions, and as I
Shani Rosenbaum Our sages say that while the yetzer ha-ra, evil inclination, enters a person at birth, the yetzer tov, good inclination, comes at the age of bar or bat mitzvah. As children we are primarily concerned with our own needs; as we approach adulthood, we begin to take into account the effects our behavior
Jacob Fine There is something both sad and beautiful about the end of the farming season. Death and decay are everywhere. It is hard to take too many steps in my garden this time of year without hearing and feeling the juicy squish under my boots of a rotting tomato, cucumber, or pepper that never
Marci Shore I was a 10-year-old girl sitting in Hebrew school in the basement of a Conservative synagogue in Pennsylvania. It was 1982, the era of Ronald Reagan and the Evil Empire, of demonstrations by American Jews in support of refuseniks. The teacher was showing us a film about an Israeli kibbutz. The sunniness of