Layman’s Terms

A non-Jew who loves Philip Roth, making challah, and visiting High Holiday services wants to be a Jew, minus the religion

Smell Test

After a lifelong curiosity about the prohibition against pork, one writer finds a satisfying answer—in the writings of the late Christopher Hitchens

Beggars on Horseback

The needy come to a New Jersey synagogue to claim their due, and the donations that result seem to flow both ways

Material Differences

My 3-year-old wanted a velvet yarmulke, like they wear at his Chabad preschool—an early skirmish in the values clashes I knew were coming.

Christmas FAQ

Most everything you ever wanted to know about Christmas

Enchantment

When he left the world of observance, a young San Franciscan took with him the trops for chanting Torah and applied them to the works of Walt Whitman

The Tenth Man

The shul on Stanton Street outlasted others in a neighborhood once dense with them. One writer spent his summer trying to find out why. An excerpt.

Becoming Women

Bat mitzvahs tell us less about tradition than they do about how girls create rites for coming of age, as the new book Today I Am a Woman shows

Survey Says

S. An-sky created a survey—never completed—on shtetl life in the 1910s. Its 2,087 questions offer a fascinating window on the Pale of Settlement.

Memorial Day

Without ritual and prayer, grief for a lost loved one has no place to go. But can a convert to Judaism observe yahrzeit for a non-Jewish parent?

Conservadox

Evonne Marzouk, the Orthodox co-founder of a Jewish environmental group, insists the Torah holds us responsible for the earth’s well-being

Sorry God

It’s the time of year for apologies, but not everyone has forgiveness on their mind. An argument for not saying sorry until God does.

Stormy Weather

When an old frenemy gets back in touch, it raises the point crucial to Yom Kippur: Forgiveness doesn’t always fix everything, and that’s fine.

Overtime

The second day of some Jewish holidays is mandated by rabbinic tradition, not Torah law. In today’s world, they’re increasingly hard to observe.

God Got Game

Video games teach us everything we need to know about the tension between destiny and free will

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