Giving the Law to a People Who Remember

Next week is Shavuot, the day that marks the giving of the law to the Israelites gathered at the base of Mt. Sinai. This law has marked the Jewish people as distinct for 4500 years, both as the Chosen People and as a target for whatever hatred, anger, and grudge someone might hold.

Even in the most ancient of times, Jewish law set the Israelites apart from other ancient peoples.  In more modern times, Jewish law as embodied in the 5 Books of Moses also formed the basis for the Christian Bible and for the Koran, which incorporated sections in their entirety.

The challenge for Jewish continuity today is to help young Jews understand the radical importance to the Western world of what happened at Mt. Sinai. It laid the foundation for the kind of just, humanistic society based on law that most people seek.

To try to give young people a sense of the monumental importance of what happened there, I wrote a children’s story, The One God. You can read it here. It is included among the children’s stories at JewishFamilyStories.com.

Since Mt. Sinai the Jewish people have held as constants two things: the primacy of the Law, the Torah, as given at Mt. Sinai; and the concept of remembrance.  It is said that every Jew—living, dead, and not yet born—personally received the gift of the Torah that long-ago day. The mission of each is to remember, learn from it, and make it real for the next generation. That is what Jewish continuity is about.

Please watch this blog for news about and more excerpts from my upcoming novel for Jewish young adults, The Uncertain Art of Hooking Up, as well as more stories from JewishFamilyStories.com. Also, feel welcome to check out my paperback book for Jewish children: Miracles–stories for Jewish children and their families.

You also can follow this blog, American Jew, on Twitter, @storyauthor1225.

Win Jewish Teens with Song of Songs

At services in synagogues around the world his past Shabbat (3/30) most congregations read Song of Songs (Shir Ha’Shirim). If a sacred text is ever to grab the attention of teens this will be it. Have you ever read it? I think of it as the sexiest sacred Jewish text. The first line goes: “Oh, give me of the kisses of your mouth/ For your love is more delightful than wine…” and it continues in that vein right through the end.

The rabbis teach that this is about the love of God for the collective people of Israel. OK, on one level. But tell that to teens with hormones shooting out their ears. Want them to pay attention at synagogue, just sit them down and have them go around the room reading it out loud.  Be prepared to put up with a certain amount of snickering, but you’ll make your point—Jewish texts rock.

Once you grab them with Song of Songs you can then turn your attention to the lives of patriarchs. No lack of hormone driving material there or take a look at Mrs. Potiphar’s attempted seduction of Joseph in Egypt.

Take a look at my story The Sexiest Jewish Sacred Text. It is a brief except from the upcoming young adult novel The Uncertain Art of Hooking Up.  Watch this blog for more information and excerpts from the book. Check out all my Jewish teen stories at JewishFamilyStories.com.  Follow Twitter:  @storyauthor1225

Jerusalem—Undivided Capital of Israel

Why should the title of this post be controversial?  The Jews have inhabited Jerusalem since before the time of King David. The haftorah I read at my bar mitzvah told the story of King David bringing the Torah to Jerusalem for the first time and dancing nearly naked in the streets with it as the young women cheered him on. His wife, the daughter of King Saul, was none too pleased.

And the centerpiece of Jerusalem is the Kotel, the western wall of the ancient Temple’s foundation. You can visit the Kotel 24×7 through the power of a webcam. The one I prefer is here; this should come up to the live view. If not, just click live view. The webcam is maintained by Aish.com

Encounter at the Kotel is a story I wrote for teens.  It is an excerpt from my upcoming book for teens, The Uncertain Art of Hooking Up.  Feel welcome to circulate the link and please spread the word of this upcoming book and this blog.

In subsequent posts I will tell you more about The Uncertain Art of Hooking Up. It is a love story about a secular Jewish high school basketball player who meets a beautiful strictly Orthodox girl. I wrote this book because I have daughters and grew concerned when I heard among them and their friends terms like hooking up getting freely tossed about.

Please follow my blog, American Jew, that focuses on Jewish continuity through storytelling; Twitter @storyauthor1225