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Neal Schindler

A native of Detroit, Neal Schindler has lived in the Pacific Northwest since 2002. He has held staff positions at Seattle Weekly and The Seattle Times and was a freelance writer for Jew-ish.com from 2007 to 2011. Schindler was raised in a Reconstructionist Jewish congregation and is now a member of Spokane's Reform congregation, Emanu-El. He is the director of Spokane Area Jewish Family Services. His interests include movies, Scrabble, and indie rock. He lives with his wife, son, and two cats in West Central Spokane.

Tikkun olam and righteous anger

A great many Jews, religious and secular alike, feel inspired by the Jewish concept of tikkun olam: our collective duty to help heal the world. Like many other progressive concepts, tikkun olam can easily be caricatured as a “nice” thing to do rather than a good thing. Awww, those B’nai Mitzvah students are picking up litter in the park — isn’t that nice! In this formulation, “nice” is code for gestural, temporary and ultimately ineffectual.

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How religious coping can reduce anxiety

On June 15 I’ll receive a master’s degree in mental health counseling from Eastern Washington University. To earn the degree I had to spend three academic quarters writing a research paper on a counseling-related topic. And though I wouldn’t want to inflict all 20 or so pages of my paper on you, I think my key findings are pretty interesting.

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Planning an interfaith wedding

At times, planning an interfaith wedding feels like owning an obscure make of car. You go all around town trying to find parts for it, only to discover that no one has them. As it turns out, you need to make them yourself, in your garage.

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Being Jewish at Christmastime

A recent discussion at my shul, Congregation Emanu-El, introduced me to Sue Fishkoff’s essay “My Family Tree is Loaded with Tinsel.” In this short but insightful piece, Fishkoff cracks open a quiet taboo of American Jewish life: what some Jews do at Christmastime.

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“Jew” as a noun: offensive or merely descriptive?

Most of my friends agreed that the intention behind the use of “Jew” is what matters most. (They also shared the opinion that “jew” as a verb is always pejorative.) A friend who is especially knowledgeable about Judaism made the key distinction between “Jew” as a noun and the same word as an adjective. The latter is plainly offensive.

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