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Tzvee Zahavy
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Dear Rabbi: Your talmudic advice column

Published: 05 July 2013

Dear Rabbi,

I grew up in a religious home, attended synagogue all my life, kept a kosher home, and observed all the holidays and mitzvot. I’m 55 years old now and I realize that I do not believe in God. I have told just a few people about my loss of faith. One friend with whom I have discussed this insists that it is hypocritical for me to attend synagogue and recite the prayers. At this age I do not want to disrupt my life. What should I do?




Is Shmuley kosher?

Boteach’s scholarship is wide of the mark with ‘Jesus’

BooksPublished: 24 February 2012

Readers of The Jewish Standard need no introduction to Shmuley Boteach. He writes a regular column for this newspaper and lives on a large corner property in Englewood that he would like to convert into synagogue-owned land, thereby saving himself $63,000 a year in property taxes. This comes despite his long-held opposition to the tax exemption granted to his neighbor, the Libyan government. Shmuley, as he likes to be called, is also being talked about as the next chief rabbi of the British Empire (he says he is not responsible for such talk), and is currently pondering a run for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

It is because of such hoopla that we find Boteach quite entertaining. He is a public personality who always has something interesting to say. He also has a talent for turning his opinions into books, television shows, lectures, and the like. In short, he is a successful entertainer.


A multiplicity of voices

The six archetypes you meet in the prayer book

LocalPublished: 02 October 2011


His traits: Studies Torah; an organized record keeper; knows the rewards for keeping commandments; a private person.

His God: Writes in a book who shall live and who shall die.

His High Holy Days Prayer: Unetaneh Tokef, the liturgy of the record book of life and death.

His Daily Prayer: the Sh’ma.


His Traits: Formal, political, public.


Let your imagination assist your prayers

Published: 20 September 2009

As we hold the machzor and siddur in our hands this season and perform its prayer services together we realize that we have in our hands a book with great life and vivid personality.

In the humming and silence, the whirling activity of reading and singing of our services, we find and mine a trove of complex and fascinating words, ideas, themes, tropes, and compositions.

Using a bit of imagination, in the siddur and the synagogue we can find a multidimensional and complex set of religious master characters.


A holiday memoir: Why I care about Jewish prayer

generalPublished: 30 September 2007

Tzvee Zahavy is at the right of his father, Rabbi Zev Zahavy, in the synagogue sukkah in 5715.

Praying and the synagogue were central to my life since my early childhood. My father was the rabbi of several distinguished New York City synagogues on the West Side and then the East Side of Manhattan. I recall many times accompanying him to his work. His study in the synagogue, off to the side of the main sanctuary, was lined with books, filled with a musty smell, and had the creakiest wood floor I ever walked on. The synagogue in Manhattan at that time was a stately place with formal services, led by a professional chazzan. My dad wore a robe and high hat — black during the year and white on the High Holy Days.


The blogosphere: A reader’s guide

LocalPublished: 15 June 2006


Tzvee Zahavy, this newspaper's webmaestro, provides a capsule introduction to blogging and bloggers:

Jewish Standard: For those of us who are not bloggers, just what is blogging?

Tzvee Zahavy: Ideally, blogging is the act of publishing your thoughts, knowledge, and observations on the Internet in short dated entries and, most often, inviting others to leave comments on those entries.

J.S.: Who reads these blogs?

T.Z.: Successful bloggers operate in a virtual community of readers who seek new information. The content can be topical, geographical, political, technical, humorous — the list is endless. Most observers assume that blog-readers are young and hip movers and shakers. But actually blogs more and more attract a cross-section of readers.


Madonna: Still not a kabbalist

generalPublished: 09 December 2005

Commuting to work in the morning rush hour from Teaneck to East 53rd Street in the city often takes me an hour — about the length of Madonna's latest album "Confessions on a Dance Floor," which I was playing for the first time one recent morning.

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