Preparing for a bar or bat mitzvah is a challenge for any preteen — it requires hours of preparation and dedication.
But for Batya Sperling-Milner, the challenge was even more enormous. First…off, Sperling-Milner, the third of four kids, is blind. Secondly, her family, which belongs to the Ohev Sholom congregation in Washington, D.C., is Modern Orthodox, which means that the standards for her bat mitzvah ceremony had to be a lot more exacting than it would for a kid belonging to a more liberal congregation. Luckily, Sperling-Milner… >> Read More
Philip Roth, a literary giant, passed away at age 85. As Charles McGrath wrote in his obituary in The New York Times, "he was drawn again and again to writing about themes of Jewish identity,…anti-Semitism and the Jewish experience in America." But what Roth provided, of course, was a uniquely American Jewish male experience. As Shayna Goodman wrote in Lilith Magazine in 2014, "In his novels, Roth often writes about masculinity impaired by female sexuality; and this reveals something big and troubling about Roth’s attitudes towards women." And as… >> Read More
Even before I became pregnant I knew the rules: Don’t say the baby’s name. Don’t buy anything for the baby. Don’t plan a bris. (God-forbid!) Oh, and don’t talk about what life…will be like when the baby arrives. Because, of course, the Evil Eye is always watching and you don’t want to tempt fate. I’ve spoken to many rabbis about this since having my baby boy last year – and according to them, there’s no halachic justification for this medieval belief system. Just plain old superstition.… >> Read More
I'm not much of a television watcher. I get easily bored with serials, find most comedies unfunny, and have no stomach for horror or violence. Most of my television entertainment comes from watching…couples, mostly with champagne tastes on ginger-ale budgets, choose from three houses on reality TV. But a few months ago with nighttime activities over early in our home, I flipped the channel to the popular family sitcom "Black-ish." The episode that happened to be on explored the tension created by different generations questioning religion and… >> Read More
Some years ago, I was checking into a hotel in southern Poland, and when I told the clerk my last name, he gave me a sharp look. “That was a very common name before the war,” he said. Meaning…that it was a common name for Polish Jews. This wasn’t news. All of my forebears, on both sides, emigrated from Poland. I even wound up marrying a woman whose grandfather grew up 50 miles from where my mother’s parents were born. A century ago in the old country a matchmaker might have set us up.… >> Read More