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Off the Shelf: Mitzvah projects and new schools

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

I always celebrate when I see Jewish-themed novels being published for the younger generation, particularly tweens. “Eddie Whatever” by Lois Ruby (Carolrhoda Books) seemed perfect for our annual b’nai mitzvah issue because the plot centers on a bar mitzvah st…

Off the Shelf: Folktales and legends

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Humans are storytellers and the stories we tell give insight into our particular culture. We use stories to teach lessons to the younger generations or offer quiet criticism of the status quo, in addition to their being an entertaining way to pass the time. Whether…

Off the Shelf: Moral quandaries

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

When looking for answers to contemporary ethical questions, people debate whether the wisdom of the past is still relevant. Can answers to questions about social media be found in the Torah? What can the Talmud teach us about end-of-life issues based on technologica…

Off the Shelf: Communities’ unwritten rules

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Every community has unwritten rules which people live by, even if they can’t necessarily articulate exactly what they are. However, it’s always clear when a line has been crossed and punishment or ostracism is required. Children learn these rules without specif…

Off the Shelf: Love, family and finding your bashert

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

When I was growing up and my mother would talk about marriage, she would use the phrase “every pot has its lid.” That’s similar to the concept of bashert, that there is a person meant just for you. But how do you determine that? And what if the person you thi…