September 2, 2014 / 7th of Elul, 5774
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Ask A Rabbi

  • “My teenager enjoys reading comics and graphic novels. Are there any about Judaism or with Jewish content that you would recommend?”

    By Rabbi Joshua Breindel

    Thanks for asking such a fun question! There are many graphic novels with a healthy dose of Yiddishkeit that can intrigue and inspire readers of all ages (I include myself in that category!).

    Recent interest in the Jewish role in the American comics industry has inspired some fascinating books and arti...

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  • “Ever since I read ‘The Golem and the Jinni’ I’ve been wondering about the relationship between Judaism and fantasy and science fiction (F&SF). Does Jewish F&SF exist? If so, could you make some recommendations?”

    By Rabbi Joshua Breindel

    Thanks for this question! I’m a great fan of speculative fiction (SF)—an umbrella category that encompasses fantasy and science fiction (F&SF), as well as horror and magical reali...

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  • “I’m an athletic director writing sports schedules. What are the rules regarding work and the Jewish calendar that I should be aware of? And how might I balance these rules with practical considerations for scheduling?”

    By Rabbi Michael Fel

    Thank you for your thoughtful question and for being sensitive to the needs of the Jewish community. While you are asking specifically about a sports schedule, in a way you are asking a deeper question relating ...

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  • I hear there’s a custom to stay up all night during Shavuot. What’s the origin and meaning of this practice?

    By Rabbi Adam Lavitt

    Jewish tradition says a lot about studying at night. Maimonides says: “Even though it is a mitzvah to learn both during the day and at night, one gains the majority of wisdom at night; therefore, [no one should] lose even one night to sleep, food and drink, conversation, and the like—rather, one should engage in the study of...

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  • Is there a Jewish way to observe Memorial Day?

    By Rabbi Eliana Jacobowitz

    As a modern American holiday, and a federal and civil holiday, Jewish texts do not prescribe particular observance to this day. The question you pose is a great one, though, as it opens up the conversation on how to bring our Judaism to all aspects of our life, including those that are not inherently Jewish.

    Simply because there is no one prescribed way to observe Memorial Day in this context does no...

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  • “I know it’s traditional to say kaddish daily after a loss, but I hate going to synagogue. I’ve tried several, so it’s not just a matter of a bad match. It’s just not for me. Is there some other daily ritual that would be appropriate in place of kaddish to remember a loved one?”

    By Rabbi Leonard Gordon

    First of all, I am sorry you are having a negative experience attending synagogue services. Attending weekday morning and evening services c...

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  • created at: 2014-05-12

    What’s this I hear about bows, arrows, bonfires and a holiday called Lag Ba’Omer?

    By Rabbi Emily Mathis

    Nestled two-thirds of the way between Passover and Shavuot during the period of the Omer, Lag Ba’Omer, which translates to “33rd of the Omer,” is an interesting day during the Omer, a period of somewhat measured anticipation: First, we experience the anticipation on an agricultural and ritual level as we observe the Torah-given mitzvah of countin...

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  • What is a Jewish view of Islam?

    By Rabbi Toba Spitzer

    created at: 2014-05-06

    Like anything else in Judaism, there is not any one official view. Historically speaking, Jewish communities generally thrived in Muslim societies, beginning with Babylonia in the seventh through ninth centuries, in Moorish Spain in the eighth through 14th centuries, and in the Ottoman Empire from the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 and well into the 19th century. That doesn’t mean that these eras of co-existe...

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  • created at: 2014-04-29The next major holiday after Passover is Shavuot; how are these holidays connected?

    By Rabbi Dan Liben

    Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot are the three biblical pilgrimage festivals that celebrate the seasonal harvests: spring, summer and fall. In the days of the First and Second Temples, our ancestors would converge on Jerusalem on these festivals, bringing offerings from their crops and their flocks to the Temple.

    Yet Passover and Shavuot are uniquely connected and interdependent. I...

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  • From Questions to Answers, From Egypt to Sinai

    By David Fisher

    created at: 2014-04-20Passover is a holiday of questions. Who are the heroes of the story? What does it mean to be Jewish? How can we help build a free society today? These are important questions! There are also immediate, practical questions—about Passover and Jewish life more broadly. Why four glasses of wine? What are some contemporary Shabbat practices? What percentage of my income should I give to charity?

    At Ask A Rabbi,...

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Got questions? We all do. That's why we've gathered some of our amazing local rabbis to answer our queries about the ins and outs of Jewish living. Read their responses and ask your own questions. This program is sponsored by CJP's Interfaith Initiative.

Latest Comments

There are a bunch of actively Jewish characters, especially in Marvel -- Magneto is a Holocaust survivor yes, but there is also Kitty Pryde (Shadowcat of the X-Men) and Billy Kaplan (Wiccan of the Young Avengers...and technically Magneto's Grandson) who are noted along the way as practicing Jews. There was also a character in the DC Comics 'Obsidian Age' plotline who was, I think, based on the idea of the Golem. He had Hebrew characters on him and his font was very Hebrew-like.
Ask A Rabbi: Are There Any Good Comics or Graphic Novels about Judaism?
A nice shout-out to the works of my cartoonist Facebook friends, including Jimmy Palmiotti, Sharon Rosenzweig, James Sturm, and Barry Deutsch. Hereville won the Sydney Taylor Book Award - the first time it's been awarded to a graphic novel. Your readers might also be interested in the Jewish Comix Anthology which may be pre-ordered at http://www.ahcomics.com. A limited number of copies will be for sale at San Diego Comicon next week, but there will also be a special discount on the AH Comics website for those who can't buy a copy there in person. One of the book's contributors - Miriam Libicki - will be at Comicon, selling copies of her biographical series jobnik!, which is about her time in the Israeli army during the intifada.
Ask A Rabbi: Are There Any Good Comics or Graphic Novels about Judaism?
Dan Slott's run on The Thing some years back features Ben Grimm returning to his faith, and having his Bar Mitzvah.
Ask A Rabbi: Are There Any Good Comics or Graphic Novels about Judaism?
Joann Sfar's "The Rabbi's Cat" is wonderful, but so is his "Klezmer" which takes on 19th century Ashkenazi culture. Sfar, like many French Jews, is of mixed Ashkenazi/Sephardi ancestry.
Ask A Rabbi: Are There Any Good Comics or Graphic Novels about Judaism?
I would also recommend Unterzakhn by Leela Corman, and Megillat Esther by JT Waldman.
Ask A Rabbi: Are There Any Good Comics or Graphic Novels about Judaism?
I just had to share an article about Chabad at Comic-Con... Brilliant! http://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/180653/the-superhero-wore-tefillin
Ask A Rabbi: Are There Any Good Comics or Graphic Novels about Judaism?
Thanks to all for their comments - here's a few additions. Jewish content can be found in the Batman stories "Batman/Houdini: The Devil's Workshop" and "Berlin Batman" (Batman Chronicles #11 - "Baruch" Wayne is placed in 1938 Germany). Neil Gaiman's Sandman is spiced with Jewish mysticism. "Three Septembers and a January" and "Parliament of Rooks" from Fables and Reflections are wonderful stories. Less fanciful but quite gripping, Neil Kleid's "The Big Kahn" explores questions of identity, truth and community. For something completely different, check out Osamu Tezuka's manga "Adolf"...not for everyone but very powerful!
Ask A Rabbi: Are There Any Good Comics or Graphic Novels about Judaism?
Thank you, Rabbi Adam, for your inspiration.
Ask A Rabbi: What's the Deal with Shavuot All-Nighters?
Thank you for posting that SImcha. The mourner's kaddish is one of the few longer prayers that many Jews who are not affiliated or connected to a shul know (or sort of know). I think it's incumbent upon us to lower the fence a bit here and encourage folks to say ANY kaddish alone, in a minyan, or with just two people. רַבִּי חֲנַנְיָא אוֹמֵר שְׁנַיִם שֶׁיּוֹשְׁבִין וְיֵשׁ בֵּינֵיהֶם דִּבְרֵי תוֹרָה שְׁכִינָה שְׁרוּיָה בֵינֵיהֶם
Ask A Rabbi: Saying Kaddish
Thoughtful, caring comments! Ko HaKavod! FYI there is a "Kaddish L'Yachid", a "solo Kaddish" found in the Siddur of Rav Amram Gaon. I have always been surprised that that is not more widely known, or used. Rabbi Daniel Siegel has a translation of that Kaddish on his website -> http://rabbidanielsiegel.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Kaddish-Versions•Kol-Koreh.pdf
Ask A Rabbi: Saying Kaddish
This is lovely and so thoughtful, Lenny. So good to be reminded that it is OK that one size does not fit all, and that there are many ways to mourn and honor our loved ones. Yashar Ko'ach.
Ask A Rabbi: Saying Kaddish
As always, Lenny, you bring your loving and beautiful neshama into everything you write and say. It is a privilege to learn from you and to call you my friend.
Ask A Rabbi: Saying Kaddish
Shkoah - Beautifully said and thank you for sharing your own experiences.
Ask A Rabbi: Saying Kaddish