Mourner’s Kaddish ritual provides comfort at time of profound loss

By Student Rabbi Jonathan Falco

Our Jewish tradition presents us with a framework from which to approach and to accept some of life’s most trying times, acting as a source of comfort.

Drawing upon the wisdom of our ancestors, Jewish tradition emphasizes the importance of both community and reflection for the process of healing.

Each of these two aspects is present in the Kaddish Yatom, also known as the Mourner’s Kaddish.

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On Presidents Day, Jews in America honor patriarchs and matriarchs

By Student Rabbi Jonathan Falco

You may be wondering, “what’s the big deal about Presidents Day?” Aside from local school closings on account of the regional holiday, the average American pays little attention to Presidents Day.

I would argue, however, that Presidents Day is in fact a very Jewish kind of holiday and one that is indeed worthy of reflection.

What is the connection between Judaism and this commemorative day in February honoring our country’s past leaders? The link lies in a rabbinic value concept known as Zechut Avot.

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Culture and purpose help small congregation inspire meaningful growth

By Student Rabbi Jonathan Falco

Growth, in general terms, is often challenging to measure. How are people to know whether they or their communities are in a “different place” compared to an earlier point in time?

The minutiae of everyday life often prevent us from taking a step back for moments of introspection and evaluation. Growth is also a gradual process that, in a way, contributes to this lack of awareness.

Meanwhile, these very “micro steps” of the growth process are what propel us forward.

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When Hanukkah is not enough: Jews consider their place in Christmas culture

By Student Rabbi Jonathan Falco

December in America is unlike any other month. The cold bite of winter finally sets in, the sky grows dark earlier and consumerism abounds.

A confluence of all these factors gives way to the general feelings of cheeriness that characterize this holiday season. In just about every city, it seems as though we are inundated with fake icicles and the fresh smell of evergreen furs while Nat King Cole takes over the radio and becomes the elevator music a la mode.

Nativity scenes fill suburban lawns and neighbors quietly compete for the best display of Christmas lights in the neighborhood. Every year around this time, many American Jews begin wondering, “What is my relationship to this joyful holiday season that purportedly stems from a holiday that is not my own?”

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