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.