It is human to tell stories. Judaism ties these stories to the physical world through the transformational process of ritual. Rabbi Shira Koch Epstein presents a model of Jewish education in which rituals serve... to bind us both to our individual memories and the collective memory of our people. Drawing from the stories of Sarah and Avraham, as well as contemporary academic scholarship on ritual, Rabbi Epstein explains how we might bring ritual observance into our everyday lives in a way that has the power to truly forge our souls. This talk was produced in partnership with The Covenant Foundation.See lessSee more
The Rest is Commentary
Edgar M. Bronfman and Beth Zasloff For earlier generations of American Jewry, the distinction between Jew and non-Jew was clear. Jews were born Jews and stayed Jews because the larger society would not accept them as anything else. In this context, converts were often viewed with suspicion.
Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, whose short story "Gilgul" appears in the magazine this week, was not a fiction writer. Indeed "Gilgul" is the only story he wrote, and although Yerushalmi's widow Ophra told Deborah Treisman, the magazine's fiction editor, that it "may reveal a hidden wish on his part to have taken the other road," that road remained untrodden: Yerushalmi, who died in 2009, never claimed the place in Jewish-American fiction that the story hints he might have.
A Soviet Émigré Remembers the Concentration Camp Visit That Led Her To Start Lighting Shabbat Candles
Toward the end of a semester abroad at a Belgian university, I went with a group of fellow college students-most of them not Jewish-to visit Breedonk, a concentration camp 30 miles away. The trip was planned as part of our study-abroad program, and I didn't give it much thought until we walked...
Executive Director, 14th St. Y
Rabbi Shira Koch Epstein is the Executive Director of the 14th Street Y in Manhattan. Born in the Bronx and raised in New Milford, Connecticut, Shira received her BA from Wesleyan University and has also attended Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Birzeit University in Ramallah, and is currently studying as a part of the Shalom Hartman Institute Rabbinic Leadership Initiative. Rabbi Epstein received her rabbinic ordination and MA in Religious Education from HUC-JIR. Prior to the Y, Shira worked to redefine Jewish educational engagement and community as Associate Rabbi and Director of Youth and Family Education at Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Shira has served various Reform Congregations, Jewish youth groups and summer camps as an educator, is a certified Storahtelling "Maven," and has studied improvisational comedy and acting in various programs including the Upright Citizens Brigade. Shira was named one of the Feminist Press 40 Under 40 and is an inaugural recipient of the Pomegranate Prize for Jewish Education from the Covenant Foundation. Shira lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with her husband, Dr. Jason Epstein, their sons Amichai and Kobi, and their dog, Duffy.