Cool Number Trick

1) Go to the link below. After reading each window click on the boy in the lower right corner of the picture

2) In the last window type in your answer in the white box using the keyboard

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |

"Celebrate Israel" in Ann Arbor

This was the scene at the Ann Arbor JCC on Sunday as about ten anti-Zionist protesters held signs and screemed at children during the “Celebrate Israel” event. Only in Ann Arbor!

Their chant of “Hey Zionist, how many kids did you kill today?” actually changed to “Hey JCC, how many kids did you kill today?” Classy! While the 400 adults in attendance ingnored the protesters, the children stood and waved Israeli flags in their direction.

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |

Ma’alin b’kodesh v’ain moridin!

Maybe someone should talk to their marketing department about considering alternative advertising locations.

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |

Pistons Owner Bill Davidson

Bill Davidson, in an exclusive interview with the Detroit Jewish News, reflects on his efforts to bolster Judaism in America through education.

Bill Carroll
Special to the Jewish News

When the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) presented Chancellor’s Medals to several honorees in New York this time last year, Jewish businessman-philanthropist Bill Davidson of Bloomfield Hills, one of the intended recipients, couldn’t attend because he was busy as managing partner of his professional basketball team. The Detroit Pistons were heavily involved in the league playoffs elsewhere.

JTS officials want to give him the award this year, but they find themselves in the same predicament — the Pistons are defending their National Basketball Association championship. So the school’s chancellor and creator of the medal, Dr. Ismar Schorsch, will bestow it upon 18 grantees this year (in honor of his 18 years with JTS) and will come to Michigan on Monday, May 23, to make sure Davidson gets the award. Also receiving a medal will be Doreen Hermelin of Bingham Farms, who couldn’t attend last year either. The JTS will give other honors to five couples from Detroit-area Conservative synagogues.

Davidson, the quiet billionaire industrialist-sportsman, who still recites maftir at Yom Kippur morning services each year at Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Southfield, is being honored for his ongoing commitment to Jewish education. Commitments by philanthropists like Davidson are important in view of National Jewish Population Survey 2000-2001 findings that show less than half of all American Jews belong to synagogues and that most Jewish children end their religious education after their bar or bat mitzvah.

In 1994, Davidson gave an unprecedented $15 million gift to the JTS to create the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education, a milestone for the seminary, the Jewish community and Jewish education in general. It was the largest donation ever made to a single institution of Jewish education in the country. JTS is the Conservative movement’s rabbinic and teaching school. [more…]

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |

Israel’s Independence

In honor of Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, I have uploaded two of my favorite photos. Both of these were taken this past January when I was in Israel leading a birthright israel group from University of Michigan Hillel and Harvard Hillel.

Top photo is from Independence Hall in Tel Aviv where Israel’s independence was declared by David Ben-Gurion in 1948. The bottom photo is of sunset over Jerusalem (Yerushalayim shel zahav) taken from the balcony outside my hotel room at the Regency Hotel on Mt. Scopus.

[Both photos are (c)Jason Miller]

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |

Cool websites

  • Google TalkType three of four words, and Google Talk will finish your thought
  • FunkatizerType anything, and it will be translated into a variety of funny dialects
  • Anagrams Type any name and anagrams will appear
  • Googlism Type any name and thousands of websites will give their opinion of that name
(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |

Tinseltown Rabbi Saves a Prayer for Prime-time Show

From the Forward

By Jennifer Siegel
May 6, 2005

Michelle Missaghieh is a rabbi. And she plays one on TV.

On May 15, viewers of ABC’s hit medical dramedy “Grey’s Anatomy” will be introduced to Missaghieh on an episode titled “Save Me,” in which a newly Orthodox 17-year-old girl struggles with her faith when faced with a potentially fatal heart condition.

The decision to cast Missaghieh as herself in the rabbi’s role may reflect, to some degree, the changing face of the American rabbinate in both life and art. But the decision to have her counsel an Orthodox girl — who has indeed become so observant that she balks at receiving a lifesaving heart valve from a pig — is sure to leave knowledgeable viewers with an “only in Hollywood” feeling.

How did such a religious patient end up in the operating room with a woman rabbi ordained by the liberal Reform movement?

It’s a good question, Missaghieh acknowledged. And one she raised in her role as a consultant for the episode before being asked to play the role.

The writer, Mimi Schmir, insisted that the rabbi be female.

“Whenever there is a story that has a rabbi I never see a woman, I just see old men,” Schmir explained to the Forward. “I wanted to clash with the stereotype a bit.”

To make the plot more realistic, Missaghieh suggested that the woman rabbi be identified as the girl’s childhood rabbi — but to Missaghieh’s surprise, the proposed scene establishing the connection was not included.

Despite what many would describe as a farfetched pairing, the decision to cast a woman rabbi does shine a national spotlight on the demographic shift in the rabbinate.

Nearly 60% of students at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the training ground for Reform rabbis, are now female. The Conservative movement, which celebrates its 20th anniversary of ordaining women this year, recently saw its first woman become senior rabbi of a synagogue with more than 500 families.

Lately this gender revolution has begun to percolate up into culture; in addition to Missaghieh’s performance, female rabbis have been featured prominently in three new novels this past year — Jonathan Rosen’s “Joy Comes in the Morning,” Amy Sohn’s “My Old Man,” and Julius Lester’s “The Autobiograpy of God.” In fact, Missaghieh, ordained by HUC-JIR in 1996 and the associate rabbi at Los Angeles’s Temple Israel of Hollywood, was herself the inspiration for a character on HBO’s hit show “Six Feet Under” several seasons ago — a young, sexy rabbi who develops a flirtation with dashing undertaker Nate Fisher.

Missaghieh’s involvement in television could be said to uphold the tradition of a congregation that has grown up alongside the entertainment industry. Several of Temple Israel’s founders were in the business, including Sol Wurtzel, a producer who populated films for the Fox Film Corporation with stars like Shirley Temple, Will Rogers and Spencer Tracey. In later years, the synagogue’s rabbi, Max Nussbaum, wed Elizabeth Taylor and Eddie Fisher, among other Hollywood glitterati, and served as spiritual adviser to Sammy Davis Jr.

Missaghieh’s star turn — the “Grey’s Anatomy” gig — fell into her lap when Ann Kindberg, a congregant at Temple Israel and a past producer of the show, needed a rabbinical consultant for the episode. Missaghieh’s participation ensured that the Orthodox character’s jean skirt was the right length (long), that she prayed in the right direction (east) and that any confusion about whether rabbis typically bless heart valves was dispelled (no, emphatically). Still, when Missaghieh finally agreed to play a rabbi in front of the camera, not everyone was in on the joke.

“At first, they thought I was just another actress,” Missaghieh said of her cast mates in a recent interview with the Forward. “They said, ‘Well how did you learn all that?’ I’m like, ‘I am a rabbi. I’m playing me.'”

Still, she’ll be hard to recognize: Covered as she is in a poofy, surgical shower-cap and facemask, we hardly notice her gender until a voice — her voice — sings out sweetly and strongly. The camera zooms in on the rabbi’s hand cradling the girl’s. Then it cuts to Missaghieh’s deep brown eyes staring intently into the eyes of her congregant, who seems, for one instant, held aloft.

While the clip of her praying in Hebrew takes barely 30 seconds, the shoot lasted three-and-a-half hours. By the end, even the cameramen were humming along.

The effort was well worth it, Missaghieh said, given that the show offers her a platform to reach millions of Jews and gentiles. “I hope,” she said, “they’ll see that Judaism is a religion that has many comforting sources to it and that Jewish people will be reminded of the comfort that rabbis and prayer and their community can give them during times of crisis.”

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |

Yes, of course… the annual Jerusalem Report Swimsuit Issue. Wh-aaaat?!?!?

I definitely did a double-take when I looked in my mailbox at work and quickly spotted the words “THE SWIMSUIT ISSUE” printed across the current week’s issue of The Jerusalem Report. At first I thought it was a parody, but then realized it’s just an article about a swimsuit designer.

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |

Couldn’t they at least get Egg Matzah

Even the gorillas in Israel keep kosher for Passover! At least the ones at the Safari Park Zoo in Ramat Gan near Tel Aviv, do.

Since observant handlers cannot touch any leavened products during the weeklong Passover holiday (which will begin on Saturday), zookeepers have begun cleaning the premises of bread-related products and since Tuesday, have been feeding the gorillas — along with all the other animals at the zoo — a matzo breakfast.

Accustomed to eating a slice of bread with cream cheese every morning, the gorillas have taken well to the slight change in diet. “This turns out to be an interesting time for the gorillas and for the other animals because they get a bit of a change in diet,” says the zoo’s curator, Emelia Turkel. “We call this environmental enrichment, Jewish style.”

According Turkel, the constipation-causing crackers are not healthy for the animals, if ingested in excess. “If they eat too much it does cause stomach problems,” she says, explaining that the gorillas aren’t permitted to eat more than one or two matzos per day. “We hope that our public this week will not be feeding their own matzo to the animals.”

“I think it’s a good idea for them,” commented one visitor to the zoo by the name of Moshe, who watched as the zookeepers threw matzos to the excited gorillas . “They’re influenced by the Jews here.”

Report and Photo by the AP
(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |