Mark Binder


Bar Mitzvah Planning (Or Not)

By Mark Binder

Every time I think about my son Max’s upcoming bar mitzvah, I temporarily freeze. My brain just locks up as I try to wrap it around the concept of putting together a fancy-shmancy shindig for hundreds and hundreds of people.Read More


Dressing Up: A Short Story

By Mark Binder

Every year the villagers of Chelm held a Purim parade and it caused trouble for months. Many people around the world consider the Chelmener to be fools, but they are not. They are, however, very specific and honest. So, when you dress them up in different costumes, they often become frightened and confused. One year the entire yeshiva class dressed as Mordechai and they very nearly got into a fistfight about which Mordechai should have the honor of riding Haman’s horse.Read More


The Little Boy Who Loved Hamantaschen

By Mark Binder

Once upon a time, there was a little boy who loved hamantaschen. He loved hamentaschen so much that he would eat any kind. (A hamantasch, as you probably know, is a special kind of a filled cookie baked for Purim and shaped like a triangle to commemorate Haman’s three-cornered hat. Haman, of course, was the villain of the story, who tried to destroy the Jews and, thanks to the efforts of Esther and Mordechai, failed. By the way, when you hear Haman’s name, you’re supposed to stamp your feet, twirl your groggers and make a lot of noise to drown out the sound of his name. Back to our story.)Read More


That Hanukkah Business

By Mark Binder

Every Tuesday morning in the village of Chelm, Reb Cantor the merchant and Rabbi Yohon Abrahms the schoolteacher (and mashgiach) went for an early morning walk. They met in the village square when it was still black out, squinting up at the sky as the sun crept up inch by inch over the Black Forest, and off they’d tramp. Rain or shine, snow or mud, every Tuesday morning it was their habit.Read More






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    • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
    • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
    • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
    • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
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    • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
    • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
    • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
    • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
    • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
    • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
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    • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
    • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
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