A dybbuk, an evil spirit, clings to a man who is struggling to walk.

Jewish Word // Dybbuk

A Ghost from Our Past by Sala Levin Fans of the film-making, Minnesota-bred brothers Joel and Ethan Coen were transported back to the old country in the opening scene of the 2009 film A Serious Man. A couple—clad in full shtetl garb—is visited by a man believed to be dead. The woman declares him a dybbuk, a figure unfamiliar to most 21st-century filmgoers, but one quite at home in the horror movies it predates. The word dybbuk is a Yiddishized adaptation of the Hebrew root davek, meaning to cling or to cleave, and the basis of the contemporary Hebrew word for glue. The term first appears in Genesis, where it’s written that a man will “leave his father and his mother and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall be as one flesh.” Dvekut, in kabbalistic thought, is “a kind of ecstatic state...

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Israeli soldiers patrol a Palestinian open market

Searching for Normal in Hebron

IT’S NOON ON A BLISTERING BRIGHT August day in the northern part of the West Bank city of Hebron. I’ve joined a crowd of some 200 Palestinians crammed into the lobby of a renovated two-story building on Ain Khairadeen Street for the grand opening of the Plaza Shopping Center. There are silver, blue and yellow balloons, a host of local dignitaries and gift bags with digital clocks for each guest. There’s a clown and a man in a brown animal suit of indeterminate species and dozens of smiling children in baseball caps and T-shirts, none of whom would look out of place at the Mall of America. First there’s a guided tour of the Bravo Supermarket—wide aisles, spotless floors, fruit and vegetable displays, bakery and butcher counters, and plastic shopping bags in Arabic and English pledging...

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Death in the Jewish Tradition

Throughout the ages, the Jewish people have developed customs, rituals and observances to guide us and provide comfort when a loved one dies. Moment Senior Editor Francie Weinman Schwartz, coauthor of The Jewish Moral Virtues with Eugene B. Borowitz, has prepared this compendium to help you make decisions in advance and know what to do when the time comes. Due to safety concerns brought about by the current public health crisis, we’ve also included new traditions to consider.

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