Teachings: Mitzvah Guidance

The Bat Mitzvah Girl Who Loved Horses

Are there tasteful limits for B'nei Mitzvah? B Mitzvah! The Bar/Bat Mitzvah (R)evolution continues here

There was a twelve-year-old girl who loved horses. She was preparing to become bat mitzvah and insisted on horseback rides for her friends in the synagogue parking lot as well as centerpieces with famous horses depicted upon them. She also wanted to wear her riding hat when she read Torah. What to do? What’s a parent or rabbi to say?

Reb Goldie: “Ashley, I’m so impressed by your love of animals, especially horses, that I’ve brought you some information from Judaism about animals and horses.”

Spiritual Menu for Passover Order of the Seder

A Spiritual Passover Seder Menu – Passover is an Annual Gestalt Experiment
from Reclaiming Judaism as a Spiritual Practice: Holy Days and Shabbat

Kadeish – Chanting the Kiddush over the Wine

Understanding Kaddish and El Maleh Rachamim

Saying kaddish is very helpful for the mourner and it is important to someone who is dying to know an actual family member or person they have designated who knew them personally will be their "kaddishele," the person saying kaddish for him/her.

Kaddish is written in Aramaic, the language of the Jewish people during  the rabbinic period (when we lived under the Greeks and Romans). It's comforting cadence takes on the quality of a mantra. There are many types of Kaddishes - Kaddish Shalem (whole kaddish), Hatzi Kaddish (abbreviated kaddish), Yaddish Yatom (Mourner's Kaddish) and Kaddish D'rabbanan (Scholar's Kaddish) are the most well know. A rendition of the meaning I find in the words of the Mourners Kaddish is listed below the Aramaic transliteration.

Creating a Mitzvah-Centered Life Shabbaton April 8-10

The Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation (JRC) & Beth Emet of Evanston, IL are co-sponsoring a Mitzvah-Centered Life Shabbaton

Tashlich, Including a New Games and Environmental Lens



Teaching Tashlich through a New Games and Environmental Lens
by Rabbi Dr. Goldie Milgram; Photo Credit: "Magenetic Waves" (c) 2016 Barry Bub

Is genetic sex selection of children permitted in Judaism?

Question: What is the Jewish perspective on genetic sex selection of children?

Creating New Jewish Ritual for a Big Birthday

I've never been one to hold birthday parties for myself, but turning sixty felt like the time had finally arrived. I needed a way to transition my soul's balking sense of terror. Where did all of the equanimity from my meditation and other spiritual practices go in the face of all that? How to push through towards hopefully, the gift of a new decade? [video coming soon]

2015 Omer Calendar in Color

Also attached to this page also as full size color pdf.

Omer: 49 Days of Jewish Spiritual Practice

The Omer comprises 49 days, paralleling the wandering of the Israelites in the wilderness, which in Torah comes the day after Passover begins, and ends with receiving Torah on Shavuot.

Originally, the omer was the measure of wheat brought as a donation of harvest gratitude to feed the Temple workers in ancient Israel. As our need for renewal of spirit builds in these troubling times, the Jewish spiritual renaissance continues unabated.

Creating a Mitzvah-Centered Life Shabbaton April 8-10

The Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation (JRC) & Beth Emet of Evanston, IL are co-sponsoring a Mitzvah-Centered Life Shabbaton

Major Contrasts in Jewish Practice

Because change is one of the constants of Jewish life, the variations in customs, laws, and practices at any point in our history are quite fascinating. It’s important from the outset for you to be fully aware that individual homes, congregations, and even certain neighborhoods and individual communities within those neighborhoods, have their own uniquely nuanced Jewish culture, norms, and guidelines. For example, there are Jewish communities where the norm is:

Visualization: Torah and Her Garments

B-Mitzvah (R)evolution

Imagine it is time for you to go up to the Torah, perhaps your bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah. You are about to become a witness and participant in the reading and interpretation of Torah. Go ahead, approach the aron, the ark; it represents the Ark of the Covenant, in which the Israelites carried the carved tablets with the Ten Commandments in the wilderness. The doors of the ark are opened. You will cross a threshold in your life as an elder or leader of the community places the Torah in your arms. The sacred mantle of leadership is upon you.

Guidelines for Setting a Date and Time for a Jewish Rite of Passage

Guidelines for Setting a Date and Time for a Jewish Rite of Passage

Understanding & Appreciating the Jewish Calendar

What are the blackout dates for Jewish rites of passage?

For those scheduling Jewish life cycle ceremonies there are hundreds of available dates as well as a number of black-out dates when rites cannot be held.

Bris, Brit, What Is the Jewish Covenant

What Is the Jewish Covenant? Entering the Covenant of Jewish Peoplehood

Do Children Belong Under the Huppah?

Are there good alternatives?

Those who have children of their own, or in the family, and who are planning a Jewish wedding often wonder as to the wisdom of involving the children in the ritual. There are a number of considerations involved and every family is different. 

Bris, Brit, What Is the Jewish Covenant

What Is the Jewish Covenant? Entering the Covenant of Jewish Peoplehood

Healthy Integration of the Sad with the Glad

How to include the memory of loved ones during happy rites of passage

A challenging point in weddings, b'nei mitzvah and baby namings can be the absence of loved ones recently deceased, who are too far off to be able to attend, who are doing military service, or who can’t be present for other reasons. What to do?

• You can have the person leading the rite invoke the absent one’s memory/honor early on, if you wish; immediately after the opening verses of song, psalm or prayer is generally a good spot for this.

Is Organic Kosher?

Dear Rabbi:
I'm making the transition into observant Judaism. I've already incorporated many different aspects of Jewish life and practice in my own. The one thing that is most difficult for me is finding kosher meats in my area, specially lamb and red meat, which are meats I love to eat from time to time. Can I purchase organic meats instead, which are more accessible in my area and in this way observe Kashrut? Thanks!

Response: