My Maimonidean Dilemma

Written by Paul J. Blank on . Posted in Travel

As a member of the Jewish Text Department at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, I teach courses in both halacha (Jewish law) and theology. The goals of these courses are, of course, different. What they have in common, however, is the influence of Maimonides (1135-1205). In courses that deal with halacha, we read the Mishneh Torah, Maimonides’ codification of Jewish law. In courses that deal with theology, we read “Guide for the Perplexed,” Maimonides’ attempt to explain Judaism in a rational way. Reflected in these writings is Maimonides’ ability to accommodate different interests, despite inherent tensions and even contradictions.

Saying Kaddish in Croatia

Written by Paul J. Blank Travel Columnist on . Posted in Travel

I had long wanted to travel to Dubrovnik, Croatia. I looked forward to swimming in pristine waters, sunning on rocky beaches, kayaking around beautiful islands, hiking mountains overlooking the city, attending classical music concerts, and learning about historical sites. There is also a “Game of Thrones” tour, as Dubrovnik is the filming location for that television series.

Pesach 2017 at Isabella Friedman

Written by Gabe Aaronson Special Correspondent on . Posted in Travel

(Photo Credit: Gabe Aaronson)Fresh mountain air, sublime prayer services, world-class speakers, and the best food I have ever eaten on Pesach. These were the highlights of my Pesach at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Connecticut.

Connecting to the Land, Not the Phone: A Day With Israeli-Druze Youth

Written by Aquila Mendez-Valdez on . Posted in Travel

Israel is home to approximately 140,000 members of the Druze faith, but today there are a dozen or so young students waiting patiently for me as I park my car next to the Shrine of the Prophet Bha’a Aldeen, a local Druze holy site. By this point, I have spent several months in Israel and have only heard whisperings about the Druze community. They remain something of a mystery to the outside world, with terms like “secret religion” and “hidden in plain sight” used at times to describe them. But Green Horizons, an organization that offers outdoor educational activities to Israeli youth, is hoping to shed new light on their fascinating world by connecting Druze youth with nature and Israel as a whole.