One of the Most Spectacular Songs of Praise in the Jewish Liturgy

Posted on January 16th, 2017
Atar Hadari for Mosaic


Nishmat starts with the wide-open sky and the wings of eagles; it ends deep inside the recesses of the body, in our vital organs

One of the most spectacular songs of praise in the Jewish liturgy is the prayer known as Nishmat (“Soul of”), after the first word of its opening line: “The soul of all that lives shall bless Your name.” (My attempt at a translation of the poem appears at the end of this essay.) Reserved for Sabbaths and major holidays, it culminates the series of psalms and praises of God with which the morning service begins, and concludes with a blessing that marks the transition to the next part of the service. Interestingly, it also makes an appearance at a parallel juncture in the Passover seder.

Continue reading.

I’m wearing a kippah now — for solidarity and visibility

Posted on January 9th, 2017
By David A.M. Wilensky for JTA

SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) — I do not like wearing a kippah.

I grew up in a Reform synagogue where few people wore them, including the rabbi. The gendered nature of it bothers me. (Why, in some “egalitarian” synagogues, are men forced to wear them but not women?) And, quite frankly, I don’t like being told what to wear.

But two days after the election of Donald Trump, I put on a kippah. Since then, I’ve been wearing this visible symbol of my Jewishness all day, every day. I’m not wearing it to remind myself that God is above me — one of the explanations for the custom. This isn’t about God.

Continue reading.

Alexander Hamilton Was a Jewish Day School Boy

Posted on January 2nd, 2017
BY LEAH FALK for Jewniverse    

If you’ve ever wondered, amid the frenzy over the musical Hamilton, “But what’s the Jewish angle?” have we got the story for you. Consider this about America’s favorite 18th-century illegitimate statesman: As a boy, he attended the Caribbean equivalent of a Solomon Schechter Jewish day school.

Continue reading.


9 Things You Didn’t Know About Hanukkah

Posted on December 26th, 2016
By Julie Wiener for

Lesser-known facts about the Festival of Lights.

Hanukkah, which starts at sundown on Saturday, December 24, is one of the most widely celebrated Jewish holidays in the United States. But that doesn’t mean there is nothing new to learn about this eight-day festival. From the mysterious origins of gelt to an Apocryphal beheading to Marilyn Monroe, we’ve compiled an item for each candle (don’t forget the shammash!) on the Hanukkah menorah.

Continue reading.

For even more great ideas, visit our Hanukkah Holiday Spotlight Kit  

I'm Jewish and Greek. Who Do I Root for On Hanukkah?

Posted on December 19th, 2016
Elizabeth Savage for The Jewish Daily Forward

They’ve switched on the window displays on Fifth Avenue, and the trees are for sale on the street corners, so I know I’m about to get asked the question: Do I miss Christmas? It’s a common question for a convert. But, despite a childhood full of Yuletides worthy of a Norman Rockwell painting, my answer is simple: just the opposite. I love Hanukkah and I’d trade Christmas for it in every respect. Except maybe one.

The reason is: I’m Greek. Or at least part Greek. My father’s family is from Sparta and loves the Greek Orthodox Church; my mother’s family is gingerbread-building, sugar-cookie-making WASP. To their credit, my parents have always been supportive of my choosing to become chosen, albeit a little confusedly.

Continue reading.

With Hanukkah just around the corner, find more great ideas in our Hanukkah Spotlight Kit