Kaddish: A Mourner’s Prayer That Does Not Mention Death
Religion, spirituality, and Jewish life

Kaddish: A Mourner’s Prayer That Does Not Mention Death

The Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, does not mention death. Some say it is similar to the Lord’s Prayer in content and tone. It appears at many different times in many forms with different names, one of the most important in all Jewish worship. But when Jews talk about “saying Kaddish,” they always mean the mourner’s Kaddish at the end of every worship service..

Why I Don’t Trust Too Much Unexpected Happiness
Mental Health

Why I Don’t Trust Too Much Unexpected Happiness

It was hard for me to learn the difference between happiness and damaging mania. It’s something everyone who struggles with mania must learn. Here are some tests that usually work. Still, 30 years after my last attack of full-blown mania, I still don’t completely trust unexpected flattery and good news, and took precautions against mania first, when I was recognized by one of my heroes..

“Portnoy’s Complaint” by Philip Roth Is Middle-Aged
Religion, spirituality, and Jewish life

“Portnoy’s Complaint” by Philip Roth Is Middle-Aged

The brutally frank sexuality, negative portrayal of Jews, and the dislikable, womanizing main character in “Portnoy’s Complaint” by Philip Roth stunned and outraged readers, especially Jews, in 1970. It would have not that effect today if anyone bothered to read it.

Reducing Medication Is An Adventure In Progress For Me
Mental Health

Reducing Medication Is An Adventure In Progress For Me

The hardest part of reducing medication, for me, is feeling more feelings. It’s like taking a layer of bubble wrap off my emotions. I was screaming at people after my 2nd redution, from 3 pills to 2 to 1 and back to 2. At this level, I fall asleep and wake up better, I’m happier, more creative, and productive, and I’ve stopped screaming..

Passover, 1968 — A Life-Changing Spiritual Awakening
Religion, spirituality, and Jewish life

Passover, 1968 — A Life-Changing Spiritual Awakening

In 1970, I wrote an account of a 1968 spiritual experience that changed my life. An old friend found a copy and sent it to me during Passover week, 2012. It’s a link to a richly creative time in my life. I doubt I could write anything so lyrical or spiritual today. Ten years later, psychiatrists tried to turn the event into a symptom of a permanent brain disease.

How My Temple Cured My Passover “Ghost Sickness”
Religion, spirituality, and Jewish life

How My Temple Cured My Passover “Ghost Sickness”

Lots of Jews have emotional problems around Passover. Lots of Christians do around Christmas for the same reason. These are the big annual family holidays, celebrated mostly at home, with layers of family-specific memories and traditions. Any negative feelings people have about their families come into sharpest focus at these holidays. For many people, like me, calling these feelings “holiday blues” trivializes some serious emotional distress.

Book Asks Why Stan Musial is Largely Forgotten
Baseball and Football

Book Asks Why Stan Musial is Largely Forgotten

Stan Musial played as well as Ted Williams or Joe DiMaggio, and was a much nicer person. Why is he forgotten except by fans over 60, or in St. Louis?

Sunday in the Park With Megan, A Photo Essay, Part 2 of 2
Religion, spirituality, and Jewish life

Sunday in the Park With Megan, A Photo Essay, Part 2 of 2

I still consider New York’s Central Park sacred space. A man-made environment God would be proud of, for physical and spiritual re-creation of a mass society, is sacred. Hosting a receptive friend on her first visit was like seeing the Park for the first time.

Sunday in  New York with Megan, Part 1, The Dead Sea Scrolls
Religion, spirituality, and Jewish life

Sunday in New York with Megan, Part 1, The Dead Sea Scrolls

What’s more interesting, the Dead Sea Scrolls or Manhattan’s Central Park on a spring weekend, my friend Becky Mercier asked, after Megan Wood Heldman and I visited both Sunday, April 1, 2012. “Too close to call,” we both replied. Part 1 of 2 is about the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Why Easter Makes Many Jews Nervous
Religion, spirituality, and Jewish life

Why Easter Makes Many Jews Nervous

For many Jews, bunnies, baby chicks, and colored eggs can’t hide centuries of unpleasant associations with the most important religious holiday in the Christian calendar.

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