Say Uncle for the High Holidays

I found the poetry collection, Say Uncle by Kay Ryan, at my local library and thought two of the pieces useful for the season of returning and repentance: “Failure 2” There could be nutrients in failure– deep amendments to the shallow soil of wishes. Think of the dark and bitter flavors of black ales and […]

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Now What? Exploring Babylon Stage Two

I launched the “Exploring Babylon” project on this blog in October 2017. Stage One was to run for roughly 40 weeks, from Sukkot through Tisha B’av. WordPress statistics tell me that I’ve posted 40 times in the category, “Exploring Babylon,” although not entirely on the weekly schedule I’d originally planned, and Tisha B’av is fast […]

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Monsters, Exile, and Storytelling

UPDATE: The event described here, including the brief interview with Díaz, took place on March 15, 2018. The piece below was posted on April 1. The New Yorker article, “The Silence: The Legacy of Childhood Trauma” — which has a LOT to say about monsters and trauma — was not published until April 16. See […]

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The Five Powers, part 2

Before Chanukah is too distant a memory, let’s look at the remaining powers, Persia and Rome, associated with the holiday and the piyyut that includes them all.

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Wax and Wicks

Jews have laws and customs for so many ritual details: washing hands in the morning, donning a tallit [prayershawl], the order of blessings before and after a meal, preparing a household for Passover, etc., etc., etc., etc. A special kavanah [intention] can be part of even the most mundane of actions, as well. But, while […]

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Chanukah and the Five Powers

Five foreign powers show up this week in the Jewish calendar. It’s worth examining each of these empires to see what light it sheds — on its own and in conjunction with the others.

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