As I’ve written about before, music has been a huge part of my life and my Judaism ever since I was a kid. When I moved to Jackson, Mississippi, one of my goals was to get involved in the local music scene, and I’m proud to say I’ve succeeded. In addition to regularly playing at local bars, I performed at a festival in Greenville, MS (home of the blues) and at the Mississippi Pride Celebration. Through performing, I have met fascinating people, including some I might have little in common with other than our love of music, and some for whom I am the first Jewish person they ever met.
In the best of years, Thanksgiving is a complicated holiday. Its complications are multi-level, valid, and not easily overcome. Many of us who grew up in the dress-as-Pilgrims-and-Indians-school-day era now understand the more problematic origins of the holiday. In today’s charged political climate, it can be hard for some families to gather round the table and contend with conflicting worldviews. It also kicks off the holiday shopping season, with Black Friday now beginning ON Thanksgiving and workers’ rights being violated all over the place. And how should a vegetarian respond when someone says “Happy Turkey Day!”?
I come from a family of talented women—women who are “makers,” who always seemed to have a needle in their hands. They were constantly creating, whether it was sewing, knitting or needlepointing. My love of the fiber arts was thereby ingrained at an early age.
“Athletic” is not a word anyone would use to describe me. No one in my family has athletic ability, and I am no different. I know what my strengths are, and athleticism is just not one of them.
Throughout history, Jews have had many names, including one of my favorites: The People of the Book. We have a past which dates back thousands of years, and we connect to through the books we read. Books such as the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) and the Talmud (Jewish Law) give us a shared experience and connect us to the traditions of Judaism. The texts might be timeless, but the bindings are not. So what happens when these books can no longer be used? What happens when these books become worn down, torn, or damaged?
It’s Election Day.
My Jewish life has always been active. I became a Bat Mitzvah right on time, inherited the position of cantorial soloist at my tiny congregation by age 14, and took on the stage role of a Holocaust survivor in my high school’s One Act Competition play before I got a driver’s license. But it wasn’t until the summer leading into 12th grade that I sat down with a chevruta, the Jewish equivalent of a study buddy, for the very first time.
My family hadn’t been to synagogue in awhile. Even though I’m a Jewish professional myself, it happens—largely because while I love starting the weekend with a Shabbat evening service, I am married to a man who, despite being Jewish, could not be less interested in most Jewish activities like Shabbat services. But recently there was a service honoring a dear friend, and even my husband agreed that we needed to be there.
Many of my most formative experiences and Jewish-identity-markers have had two things in common: they were highly competitive, and involved text study – but they didn’t necessarily involve reading the Torah.
Sukkot is almost here! It’s our week to cram friends and family into the sukkah, whether for short services and meals or full-on campouts. But the more the merrier, and the more fun, the better! With that in mind, here are 7 Sukkot ideas for modern themes and decorating ideas that might just get you and those you care about to spend a few more minutes outside. Hang some pictures, prepare thematic food, maybe dress up, add some fun decorations, and play some fun games.