Longform


Inviting Kids To Make History By Reading About Hanukkah: A conversation with Emily Singer, author of Gilgul

Emily Singer is the author of a new book — one receiving good attention in many quarters, including a warm review in a recent edition of the Jerusalem Post. The book is called Gilgul, and while it’s intended for middle-school-age readers, and would make a great Hanukkah gift for same, it carries a message we could all use — one combining great pride in ethnic/national/religious identity and genuinely embracing the idea that each particularity must connect with something larger than itself. I had the opportunity to “sit down” with Emily, despite the......

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The Great Forgiving

This week’s Torah portion always gets me in the gut. It’s the story of Jacob returning to his long-estranged brother Esau, from whom he fled 20 years beforehand after betraying Esau by stealing his birthright and blessing. Now, so much time has passed, Jacob doesn’t even know Esau anymore. We can tell this because Jacob takes great pains to send gifts ahead, to prepare for Esau’s wrath but hope for his forgiveness, to plan for any eventual outcome. Jacob can’t anticipate Esau’s reaction. Despite Jacob’s worry that Esau’s still violently mad about......

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And I Did Not Know...

“I GOT ONE!” With the recent announcement by the CDC that the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for children ages 5-11, my wife Lizzie scrambled to find available appointments for our two oldest children. She refreshed the browser each time the search came up empty, going through the painstaking process of inputting their information multiple times until – finally – she landed appointments for both of them. I can’t quite explain how cathartic it felt to see the confirmation screen with their names on it, to know that we would soon reach......

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Esau and Zero-Sum Thinking

The first question most of us ask about elections is, “Who won?” Whether it’s for President or Town Clerk, Senator or Mayor, Congressperson or School Board member, we often have a preferred candidate going in, and feel either excited or disappointed, depending on the result. In short, we view elections as a zero-sum game: there’s a winner, and there’s a loser, and that’s it. But elections are not the same as politics — in the words of former Governor Mario Cuomo, politicians campaign in poetry, but govern in prose. The goal of......

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Abraham's Conflicted Love

We live in an era of punditry. Everyone has an interpretation of events, yet few of us stop to understand what actually might have happened. Interpretation occludes understanding, as tenuously grand conclusions occlude more modest insights that are built upon a firmer footing. Similar critique might be applied to how many of us approach the founder of the Jewish people, Abraham. To venerate the origins of Judaism itself, we conclude at the outset that he was a moral superhero – all the while deemphasizing a personal life riddled with painful complexity. We......

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No Bow Without Rain

The Covenant between God and Noah, as a representative of humanity, is often seen as a beacon of hope and a universal connection between the Divine and human beings. After the great flood, which destroyed most life, God rebuilds with the promise never to destroy the earth through a great flood again. Genesis 9:13-15, God solemnizes the promise: I have set My bow in the clouds, and it shall serve as a sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth, and the bow appears......

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