What Makes A “Good” Person?
Wed, 21/11/12 – 10:27 | 7 Comments

In this scene of "Good People" at Steppenwolf Theater, Margie gets laid off from her job at the dollar store.
This past weekend I saw a play at Steppenwolf Theater in downtown Chicago that spurred me …

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The essence of schmooze. – people talking about all things Jewish in their own voices.


From serious to hilarious, short articles on everything from prayer to pop.


Happenings and trends in Judaism, from matzah balls to horah hits.

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Campus Jewology, The Ten Plagues of College, and more…


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Ask A Rabbi: What’s the Jewish take on Halloween?
Tue, 30/10/12 – 10:08 | 6 Comments

Jews tend to fall into two general camps vis a vis Halloween.  There are those who say that, given the holiday’s undeniably pagan roots, there’s pretty much no way for followers of this particular monotheistic tradition to celebrate it without getting into murky territory vis a vis forbidden practices.  There are others that argue that, since the contemporary celebration of Halloween (candy, kids dressed up as Buzz Lightyear) is now so distant from any religious practice, it’s fine to participate in a secular(ized) American experience to a reasonable degree.

But whatever your personal take on October 31st, it’s certainly the case that our tradition knows a little something about creatures of the night.  The Talmud talks extensively about demons, ghosts, witches and evil spells.  One tractate (Brachot 6a) offers some tips on how to see demons (it involves grinding up cat placenta–one wonders if eye of newt would be easier!) and another (Avodah Zara 12b) offers an incantation to use to make sure you don’t get zapped by demons when you get up to get a drink of water at night.  Tractate Pesachim (110a-b) warns that if you drink irresponsibly, the king of the demons might get you, and elsewhere it lists the various kinds of demons one may find out walking, and makes some notes about what amulets might work against them.  (That same chapter also talks about witches and the various kinds of spells they might cast.)  Truly, there’s magic-talk all over the tradition.  References to the demonic nature ofLilith date back to Biblical times, amulets, incantations and spells are found in a number of places in the tradition (and certatinly linger on in some aspects of the Kabbalistic tradition today), and the Talmud and Sefer Yetzirah , as well as a lot of later sources, talk about how one might make agolem, if one would like.

However you understand these threads–the influence of other cultures on Judaism? Evidence of magic and spirits in our world? A human attempt to express fears, hopes, and things that are hard to articulate?  Some combination of things?–it’s undeniable that there’s room for the spooky and the supernatural in Judaism.  Whether or not you personally get your Halloween on, there are definitely ways that the tradition can be of service–especially if you need to get up and get some water in the middle of the night.

Ask A Rabbi: Waiting for marriage?
Sun, 21/10/12 – 21:45 | 3 Comments

What’s Judaism’s take on premarital sex?
Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg responds.

First of all, it’s a pretty incontrovertible truth that the Jewish tradition, overall, has a very strong preference for and privileging of sexual relationships inside the framework …

We’re having some work done…
Sun, 30/09/12 – 21:35 | One Comment
We’re having some work done…

Shana Tovah! Happy Jew Year!
Consider our entity of schmooze. undergoing some structural and plastic surgery.
It’s like redoing the foundation of your house while getting a rhinoplasty.
Rest assured, we will come back new and improved.
Our new …

Spending the summer abroad: exciting or nerve-wracking?
Sun, 3/06/12 – 9:47 | 7 Comments

The view of Prague Sosa will be experiencing this summer.
This summer I’ll be heading to Prague for two months, with the Northwestern Buffett Center program. I’ve heard such amazing things about the city, the …

Halfway Done
Sat, 2/06/12 – 9:49 | One Comment

e author and her friends at a celebration for Israeli Independence Day, just one of the many firsts that she experienced this year.
As I head into finals week, the thought of going home exactly one …

629 Foster: Home Sweet Home
Fri, 1/06/12 – 14:23 | 2 Comments

Kriger and her friends enjoy the Dillo Shabbat barbecue.
Wildcat Welcome–our weeklong orientation program for incoming freshman–honestly did not make me feel welcome. Nervous, lost, confused, yes, but not exactly welcome.
Of course everyone was nice, but …

Wrapping Up
Thu, 31/05/12 – 15:23 | One Comment

View from the lake fill on a spring day in Evanston
Springtime in Evanston is, as my friend put it, “Disneyland for college kids.”
Despite the fact that our friends have been out of school for …

Gender based Violence in the Congo: How can I help?
Mon, 28/05/12 – 1:07 | No Comment

Thursday evening the Center for Forced Migration Studies, in association with a few other programs at Northwestern University, hosted an event titled “Testimony, Justice, and the Global Fight to End Sexual Violence.” The event focused …

The Artifcats
Tue, 22/05/12 – 14:37 | 4 Comments

The dreidel and the kippah, in their spot on the desk.
In two days, class will be over. Dillo Day and finals will fly by and before I know it, I’ll be packing up and heading …

Rabbis Convene at Citi Field
Tue, 22/05/12 – 14:31 | 10 Comments

Orthodox Jews stand outside yesterday’s overflow anti-Internet rally at Citi Field. Photo/caption credit: New York Post
On Sunday night, tens of thousands of Ultra-Orthodox men descended upon Citi Field, the home of the New York Mets, …

My Grandfather and the Kippah
Tue, 22/05/12 – 14:18 | 3 Comments

Goldberg, right, and his grandfather.
I study history, so I hesitate to make bold statements like this, but here goes: the global Jewish community has experienced more change in the 20th century than in any …