Entries by Aaron Potek

Ways to Connect to Torah

Despite being one of the “big three” pilgrimage holidays, Shavuot is one of the least celebrated Jewish holidays among American Jews. This is probably because the unique “ritual” associated with it – staying up all night studying Torah – is often both inaccessible and impractical. But it also might reflect a deep ambivalence that American […]

Why Yom Hashoah Should Matter

Tonight is Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Day). Unlike International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is on January 27 (the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau) and was created by the United Nations in 2005, Yom Hashoah is on the 27th day of the Jewish month of Nissan (the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising) and was created by […]

New People, Mini Groups

Want to meet other interesting Jews in a smaller, more personal setting? Looking to explore questions that matter to Jewish 20s and 30s? Like drinking? Afraid of commitment? Gather the Jews is excited to open applications for the newest cohort (#3!) of Mini–Gatherings, taking place this April. What is Mini–Gatherings, you ask? It is a 3-week-long mini-fellowship […]

If Traditional Shabbat Just Isn’t Your Thing…

If a more formal Shabbat experience or service just isn’t your thing but you still want to do something to mark the day, here are some ideas to get you started… 5 alternative approaches to doing Shabbat: 1) Mark the day. The name for each day of the week in Judaism is in relation to […]

3 Musicians and a Rabbi Have a Chat

I knew my conversation with the three members of Zusha (Elisha, Shlomo, and Zacharia) was going to be unique from the moment we began our skype call, and not just because I was a rabbi interviewing a group that specializes in Hasidic Soul. There they were – Zacharia strumming on a guitar, Elisha strutting across […]

You’ve Disturbed My Pretty Universe

I love when worlds, or in this case universes, collide. Steve Harvey’s Miss Universe mix-up this week strangely parallels another timely mix-up – from this week’s Torah reading. As the book of Genesis comes to a close, Joseph brings his two sons to their grandfather Jacob (renamed Israel) to be blessed. Joseph’s assumption, the assumption […]

On Master of None, Privilege, and Thanksgiving

Aziz Ansari’s new Netflix series, Master of None, was released on November 6, just a few weeks before Thanksgiving. And even though most of us finished the entire season by November 7, the timing helps highlight the connection between an overarching theme of the show and the upcoming holiday. A lot of attention has been […]

Ethnic vs. Religious Judaism

Jews have an identity crisis. Are we a religion, or are we an ethnicity? There is textual support for both answers, and the easiest solution to this crisis is to say that we’re both. I think this solution ignores the real challenge. While in theory one could identify as equally ethnic and religious, I have […]

An alternative view of Yom Kippur

For most Jews, the two words “Yom Kippur” evoke two other words: fasting and synagogue. I decided to lead a Lunch-and-Learn outside of a synagogue to see what would happen. Everyone who came was fasting (at least at that point), and most had come from synagogue, so it wasn’t the counter-cultural group of rebels I […]