It is an age old custom to learn a chapter of Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) every Shabbat afternoon over the summer. Pirkei Avot contains the ethical teachings of about sixty sages who lived in the times of the writing of the Talmud. It contains such famous sayings as the one by Hillel… Continue reading The Five best pieces of Advice I ever got
RUGBY RABBINICS The 20th Maccabiah (Jewish Olympic Games) is currently taking place in Israel. South Africa and the USA battled in the rugby final with the USA narrowly winning a thrilling game. Thirty-two years this week, I played rugby for the South African Jewish Rugby Team at the 12th Maccabiah. We won the gold medal… Continue reading Rugby Rabbinics I
[I wrote this two years ago after a trip to Israel. One more story of how the miraculous becomes ‘natural’ when you visit Israel.] A week before my trip to Israel one winter break, I got an email from a friend, Rafael Sait, asking me if I had any space in my suitcase to bring… Continue reading The Story of the Romanian Salami and My Bus Ride to Tiberias
I arrived with my family in Chicago nineteen years ago this week. Although the Jewish calendar and Gregorian calendar do not usually coincide (the 12 Jewish months are 29 or 30 days long and leap years have an added month), once every 19 years they coincide exactly. That means when you turn 19, your Hebrew… Continue reading 19 years ago I moved to Chicago, 3329 years ago I received the Torah at Mount Sinai
Have you ever been to Providence? I hadn’t until last weekend. My good friend, Rabbi Raphie Schochet, has been running the Providence Kollel for many years, and invited me to speak over Shabbos in the community. That got me thinking. Where did Providence get its name from? I’d heard the name many times and wondered… Continue reading Have you ever wondered where Providence, RI got its name?
You’ve heard of the Shabbat Project, or the Shabbos project, right? In 2013, the Chief Rabbi of South Africa, Warren Goldstein, came up with a simple idea. He asked every Jew in South Africa to keep one Shabbat. South African Jews are very traditional, but not many are Shabbat observant. The results were astounding. The idea… Continue reading The Chief Rabbi of South Africa visits Chicago for the first time
Learning even a page of Talmud is tough. Learning a whole volume is cause for celebration. At the siyum (completion) of a tractate of the Talmud, it is customary to recite a prayer of thanksgiving and for all in attendance to eat a festive meal. There is a widespread custom on the eve of Pesach for… Continue reading Seder night Reflections – Blessing of the Pesach Lamb or the curse of Cub’s Billy Goat