Jewish Ways

Yom Hashoah

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, April 8, 2013

The 27th of Nisan is Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel and the day is also observed in Jewish communities worldwide. The choice of this day was not an obvious one. In 1949, the Israeli Chief Rabbinate announced that the existing fast of the 10th of Tevet would also the day for remembering the Shoah.

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Maimouna

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, March 29, 2013

The day after Pesach is observed in Israel as Maimouna. It has become a celebration of North African Jewish culture, a sort of Sephardi pride day. The festivities begin in the evening as soon as Pesach is out, with people eating newly baked bread with a special ceremony for making the first dough after Pesach. (Like a more authentic, Moroccan version of queuing up outside Carmellis.)

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Not giving a eulogy in Nisan

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, March 24, 2013

Nisan is the month of Pesach, the holiday celebrating our freedom from Egypt. It’s the beginning of spring (though not necessarily in England), a month of renewal and rebirth.

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Next year in Jerusalem

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, March 15, 2013

Nirtzah, the final stage of the Seder, literally means “accepted”. In it we express our hope that we performed the Seder right, remembered the Exodus and thanked God. At this point, we open the door for Elijah and pour him a glass of wine as a sign of our faith in the imminent redemption. 

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Rejoicing on a festival

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, March 8, 2013

Joy is meant to be an integral part of Jewish holidays. “You shall rejoice in your festival”, states Deuteronomy 16:14. In Temple times, eating of the shelmim sacrifice was how we rejoiced. Today things are not so straightforward.
Maimonides wrote tha

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Preparing for Pesach

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, March 4, 2013

According to the opening of the Shulchan Aruch’s section on Pesach, one should start inquiring into its laws 30 days in advance of the festival.

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Dressing up on Purim

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, February 21, 2013

Dressing up in outrageous costumes is one of the best known customs of Purim. The first mention in halachic sources comes from the 13th century. Rabbi Kalonymus from Provence writes that Jews have a custom of dressing up as gentiles and as the opposite sex.

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The siddur party

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, February 14, 2013

The siddur party, or mesibat siddur, takes place toward the end of the first year of school once children have mastered the basics of reading. From Tel Aviv to California to Uzbekistan, children dress up, perform, and receive a new and decorated siddur from their teacher.

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Rejoicing in the month of Adar

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, February 7, 2013

Adar is the month of Purim, and we get into the Purim spirit at the beginning of the month. The Talmud tell us: “When Adar begins, we increase joy” (Ta’anit 29a). No other festival has such an official run-up period (though the fast of Tishah b’Av is the culmination of a mourning period.

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Learning in chevruta

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, February 4, 2013

Chevruta is Aramaic for friendship and is used to refer to learning with a partner. Both the learning and the partner are called chevruta, as in “I have a chevruta every morning”, or “He has been my chevruta for 20 years.”

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