Amar’e leaves the Nets

Featured image The Brooklyn Nets came to town to play the Minnesota Timberwolves on January 23. We were in the middle of a below-zero cold snap that did not deter Nets assistant coach Amar’e Stoudemire from seeking out morning services at an Orthodox synagogue in St. Louis Park away from his downtown hotel. He obviously wasn’t just going through the motions. Catching sight of the tall guy at services, my teacher Rabbi »

Pulling a Toobin in St. Louis Park

Featured image I attended the public forum of the candidates running in the DFL primary held in August 2018 at Beth El Synagogue and have referred to it a number of times in writing about Ilhan Omar, as in my “Open letter to Scott Gillespie.” (Gillespie is in charge of the opinion side of the Star Tribune.) Today Beth El Synagogue makes it into the New York Post in Jon Levine’s story »

No incident at Wembley

Featured image The world of orthodox Jewry is small and connected. Within it is a smaller world of those who study a prescribed page of the Talmud a day (Daf Yomi) over the seven-plus years it takes to complete it. Several siyum or completion celebrations were held last week. One such event was held at London’s Wembley Arena. JC.com’s Simon Rocker posts this brief account: Wembley Arena said it was “blown away” »

The Jews of Salonika at the death camps

Featured image I wrote here about the rich, unique history of Thessaloniki, Greece. For more than four centuries, this was a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, and multi-religious city on the edge of Europe. Ottomans ran it. Jews, who made up at least half of the population, dominated the economic life. Orthodox Christians rounded things out. For those interested in learning more, I recommend this post by Neo. She focuses on the Jewish history of »


Featured image Last night, we returned from a two week trip to Greece. We visited Athens, Crete, and Thessaloniki. Athens and Crete are familiar American tourist destinations. Thessaloniki is not, and for good reason. It’s interesting, but not interesting enough to cause many American tourists to visit it. We went because it’s where my wife’s father was born. At that time, in the early years of the last century, Salonika (as the »

Do American Jews believe in God?

Featured image The answer, it appears, is: sort of. According to newsletter put out by our congregation, survey data shows that 34 percent of American Jews are certain that God exists. Another 38 percent think He does, but are less than certain. 23 percent don’t believe in God, and 5 percent don’t know. Conservative Jews (in the religious, not the political, sense) have more faith. 41 percent are certain God exists; 46 »

What the anti-discrimination fetish means for Jews

Featured image In a post below, Scott directs attention to Richard Samuelson’s Mosaic column “Who’s afraid of religious liberty?” I agree with Scott that Samuelson’s piece, which discusses the danger to freedom inherent in anti-discrimination law, should be required reading. In conjunction with that column, I recommend David Bernstein’s response in Mosiac, “How Anti-Discrimination Became a Religion, and What It Means for Judaism.” Both parts of the column — the “how” (which »

Rabbis organize a misguided boycott of Trump’s speech to AIPAC

Featured image A group of rabbis is planning to boycott Donald Trump’s speech to AIPAC next week. The proposed boycott has nothing to do with Trump’s statement that, as president, he would be neutral as between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. One suspects that many of the irate rabbis have no objection to this approach, which (giving him the benefit of the doubt) has animated President Obama’s Middle East policy. Rather, the »