November 2022

Before reading on, take a moment to answer this question: we light Chanukah candles in our windows for פרסומי ניסא (pirsumei nisa), “publicizing the miracle” of Chanukah. What is the miracle of Chanukah? Chances are, your answer had to do with a one-day supply of...

September 2022

As the High Holy Days come into view over the horizon, this year my mind is on the sometimes forgotten fall holiday that sneaks in behind: Sukkot (or Succoth, if you hanker for old-timey transliterations that won’t upset your computer’s spell checker). There is a very...

July 2022

The summer is a quiet time on the Jewish ritual calendar. This is no surprise for a Levantine culture that predates air conditioning by several millennia. The main ritual event of summer is the three weeks of mourning the destruction of the Temple, known as בין המצרים...

May 2022

From the second night of Passover, for forty-nine nights to the eve of Shavuot, we count the Omer. This year, that’s from the 16th of April to the 4th of June. This time of year has become associated with tragedy and persecution over the course of Jewish history,...

March 2022

Regular readers will recall – one hopes! – that, thanks to the extra month intercalated within the Jewish leap year, our last Scroll covered two months without major Jewish holidays. Our holidays come roaring back this time around with Purim in mid-March this year...

January 2022

Due to a quirk of the Jewish calendar, there are no major holidays in the span of this Scroll. What an opportunity to talk about some quirks of the Jewish calendar! (Warning: math follows.) The Jewish calendar is a lunisolar calendar, meaning primarily lunar, with...