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Seeking to escape the clutches of the Holy Inquisition, some Jews in the sixteenth century sought refuge in the young Calvinist republic of The Netherlands.A century later, hundreds of their descendants crossed the ocean to settle in the new Dutch colony of Recife in Brazil, where Jewish communal life became possible for the first time in the New World.There's no blessing over sex, but every time I go to the mikvah I think about all the Hebrew blessings: the one for the first time you see the ocean, the one for overcoming danger, the blessing for a major purchase (a house, a car, an Armani suit).There are blessings for rainbows, lightning, mountains, truly ugly or beautiful people.
What's the easiest way I can go about telling my mother about my girlfriend without giving her a complete heart attack? I hope you have heard of the movie "Mission: Impossible," because you are now starring in Tom Cruise's role.Since I had kids my cycle is irregular, which wouldn't be a big deal except that I'm an Orthodox Jew and I can't even pass the salt to my husband — let alone touch, kiss, or have sex with him — for 12 days after my period starts.We never know when we'll have to sleep in separate beds or place a vase with a single rose between us on the dinner table as evidence of our separation. Religion is hard, which is why so many people don't practice it. I emerge, and the mikvah attendant says, "Kosher."I dunk a second time, a third time.Colonial Jews never exceeded one tenth of one percent of the American population, yet they established patterns of Jewish communal life that persisted for generations.The American Revolution marked a turning point not only in American Jewish history, but in modern Jewish history generally.