Growth comes from bearing witness to our own stories and to the experiences of others. A digest of reads that challenge us to strengthen our inner and outer lives.
Mortality is real for all of us, regardless of whether we believe in fate. Marty Kaplan contemplates the hubris of making plans in a universe of improv.
The human experience is rife with messiness and frustration, especially in our relationships with others and with ourselves. Trent Gilliss shares thoughts on embracing the turmoil and finding ways to grow from it.
To be part of any family is to bear witness to its joy, as well as its dysfunction. For Rosh Hashanah, Sharon Brous explores the intimate link between family healing and social responsibility at the heart of Jewish faith.
Rabbi and philosopher Jonathan Sacks speaks of difference as expansive and unifying, rather than a force for division.
Our lives and our liberations are bound up in each other. A photo-poem exploration of hope, freedom, and the meaning of exodus.
The importance of religion to Americans is trending downward. Meanwhile, more people are saying they experience a deep sense of wonder and awe about the universe. A secular Jew on the importance of the Passover, ritual of Seder, and the paradise of kinship.
The architecture around us inhabits the vernacular of our lives. Our executive editor with this week’s letter from Loring Park welcoming our new columnist Sarah Smarsh, who joins a collective contemplation of where and how we navigate our lives in faith, family, and citizenship.
A secular Jewish man takes umbrage when his close Christian friend says he believes he will go to hell. After he returns to his religious tradition, he says, he understands these inner and outer tensions as essential to faith — even if they disagree with his personal wishes.
We often talk about breaking bread around the dinner table, but what about baking bread in community. A young woman shares her encounter with making challah, reconnecting to tradition through intimacy, and reimagining ritual in a secular age.
Unexpected relationships can lead to deep and lasting learning and growth.
After a son discovers his father’s box of Chassidic folktales, he reflects on his upbringing, the enduring importance of tradition being passed down for generations, and the legacy he must carry forward (in translation).
Many people may only attend services on special holidays or days of sacred obligation. Jane Gross, a single New Yorker now in her 60s, relays her own story of trying to reconnect with community for the Days of Awe and finding new comfort in her solitude on Yom Kippur.
For the Jewish High Holy Days, two poems by Esther Cohen paired with photography from Matthew Septimus. They offer words that sound like music, and postcards that become visual prayers and emblems of hope.
What unites us all is that we all have mothers. A poet traces the path of her life through her Rumanian grandmother and the women who followed.
“Ritual does for behavior what poetry does for words.” When the hope of youthful enthusiasm turns grim and gray and the spiritual challenge of uncertainty beckons, a rabbi finds hope in ritual as poetry in action, recognizing the spirituality in the routine, recapturing the sacred in the mundane, and rediscovering beauty in the ordinary.
What do we mean when we use the word freedom? Matthew Septimus and Esther Cohen celebrate the many Haggadah possibilities with a poem and a picture.
Holidays like Passover create occasions for encounter, however strange they may be. And those encounters may lead to friendships that create new possibilities.
Experiencing the ineffable is a winding path, a journey with as many pivots and tacks as straight lines. And sometimes you find your course in a dentist’s chair, contemplating why the this matters and realizing you just need to show up.
On night six of Hanukkah, poet Esther Cohen and photographer Matthew Septimus light a candle to the woman who lives fully and dances with the valleys.
Our photo-poem for this Hanukkah evening, a reflection on the sacred ordinariness of holy people and holy places — even at a supermarket in upstate New York.
“People prefer winners and losers. Maccabees rising against Greeks.” The third photo-poem in our series from Matthew Septimus and Esther Cohen on the stories of success we tell each other.
A prayer for the poet who doesn’t pray. The second in an eight-part series from a photographer and a poet exploring the sacred in the mundane.
The first of eight vignettes by photographer Matthew Septimus and poet Esther Cohen on holy people and holy places that transcend the ordinary.
During the High Holy Days, a daughter remembers her father and the blessing he was as he aged — with memory and a poem.
A compilation of tweets from our conversation on the legacy of Gershom Scholem. It overflows with gems of wisdom you’ll be glad you read!
How does one leave home in peace? Shari Motro reflects on how we all can find our way back, using the abundant lessons of the relationship between Pharaoh and Moses in the Exodus story. On the other side of it all, forgiveness and gratitude resides.
In our increasingly secular lives, we find ways to get at a purer distillation of who we are at the broken center of ourselves. A meditation on paying attention and finding prayer in quiet places and through unlikely sources.
The daughter of an evangelical pastor finds comfort in the questions of an Orthodox rabbi — and his ability to change his mind on women’s issues because of his relationship with his daughter.
Is this Hasidic man posing on a bed for an American Apparel advertisement a sexualized image? Sarah Imoff argues why the media fails to see the context and places the model — and the tradition — on a pedestal.
In this photo essay, Joy Ladin reflects on how gender is a covenant she has broken “with others and a covenant with myself.”
A Jewish Arbor Day, this Jewish holiday is experiencing new life as Jews become more ecologically concerned.
The Chief Rabbi of the UK says that the plasticity of our brains should lead us into a whole new study about “deep practice” and developing attributes such as gratitude in our daily rituals.
A cache of old documents recently discovered in Afghanistan reveals a thriving intellectual culture among Persian-speaking Jews — and a treasure trove for historians and Persian linguists alike.
Loving Tablet Magazine’s humorous approach to the High Holy Days. A few of our favorites…
A new translation of a seminal work of medieval Jewish philosophy is banned in Israel. But this Arab transliteration may “break down the artificial borders that separate the communities of the Middle East.”
A joyful lamentation over sealed spaces and the lessons Rosh Hashanah — and the High Holy Days — teaches when we have access to the gifts of our natural environment.
When Jews sing a niggun, Ethan Press writes, this wordless Jewish melody brings the singer into ecstatic union with the Divine.
When Hanan Harchol’s character tells his parents that he’s breaking up with his girlfriend, they say that real love is not about focusing on your own needs. Do they have a point?
During this sacred time of year for Jews, the Velveteen Rabbi ponders how she can not only stop seeing the faults in people but ‘to perfect the art of seeing the good in people.’
The same evening that 40,000 Orthodox Jews gathered for a rally to consider the dangers of the Internet (and its responsible use), an email from a local conservative synagogue arrived in my inbox to remind me of a ritual for observant Jews to count the Omer.
A balloon flies over Eisenmann Memorial in Berlin. (photo: Danny/Flickr, cc by-nc-sa 2.0) Our household was a heavy one. I…
Seder plate (photo: Dana Skolnick/Flickr) Today is ta’anit (“fast”) bekhorim (“of the firstborn”), the day before Passover begins, when only…
Editor’s note: Krista and the On Being team are in Israel this week and working with Diane Winston’s graduate students…
Rabbi Rochelle Kamins Rabbi Rochelle Kamins has not always felt Jewish enough. No youth group or summer camp. She never…
Praying with an IDF soldier from Givati Brigades at the Wailing Wall in 1995. Moshe Hillel Eytan, born Marcus Hardie,…
The Rykestrasse synagogue in East Berlin survived “Kristallnacht” of 1938 and was the only functioning synagogue in former East Germany….