Jesus for Jews — A Love Story

by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein April 15, 2014

I got my first period when I was thirteen years old — on the morning of my Bat Mitzvah. I was feeling chosen.  There was no time to spare. My older sister Nina taught me how to insert a tampon, and off I went to get my hair braided at a salon located in a […]

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Suicide, local. Suicide, global. (And it was already too much).

by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein April 24, 2012

Last month, a Zanzibari teenage girl jumped from the second floor of her school building to her death. It happened on a Thursday in the Hurumzi neighbourhood of Stone Town, Zanzibar. Some say she was the victim of mashetani — spirits – who had descended upon the school building, sparking mass hysteria on Tuesday and Wednesday, […]

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Notes on a Zanzibar tragedy

by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein September 11, 2011

This is not a news report on an enormous tragedy. I don’t have all the facts. No one does – yet. This is me in tears writing down the terrifying reality of a capsized cargo ship, the overloaded MV Spice, and its hundreds of passengers, mostly teenagers and children, who all sunk down in the […]

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One hundred steps: Body-building at the Hindu crematorium

by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein June 23, 2011

Burning is learning. That’s what our guide at Varanasi’s burning ghats told me and my sister as we stood along the Ganges River, inhaling the smoke and dreams of the formerly alive. I was twenty-eight years old. I thought that life would get easier as I got older. That love would be as natural as […]

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Our last hours: rapture, judgment day, and faith explored in Zanzibar

by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein May 27, 2011

We all have a series of last hours that lead up to the final hour, I suppose. The last hour before boarding a plane, returning home again, leaving the island. The last hour before the final exam, that make-it-or-break-it interview, the big game. The last hour of contractions before the final push. The last hour […]

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Oh. My. Osama. Oh. My. God(dafi).

by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein May 6, 2011

Is it unpatriotic to say that Osama bin Laden had nice eyes? In the twenty-four rippling hours following reports of bin Laden’s death and burial at sea, I’m left scrolling through his public photo album online, staring at images of bin Laden as a young soldier in Afghanistan, a young revolutionary with hints of Che-spirit, […]

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Flies and Floods: a Jewish passover in Zanzibar

by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein April 19, 2011

Mah Nishtana Halailah Hazeh? Why is this night different from all other nights? Maybe because I was celebrating the Jewish holiday of Passover on the predominantly Muslim island of Zanzibar. As far as I can tell, I am the only Jew around, at least who’s willing to admit it. I myself have always grappled with […]

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Interference–A glimpse inside the ecstatic cult house of Kibuki spirits

by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein April 13, 2011

Do you believe in devils? Spirits? Possessions? Exorcisms? Or are spirits in any society simply the bio-chemical reality of hypnosis, revelation through sound, pitch and tone? An anthropological need for the occasional freak-out, fulfilled? I was skeptical of all things spirits until recently, when I stepped into a Kibuki cult spirit possession ceremony. There, in […]

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The Sunset Limited: Cormac McCarthy’s eulogy or anthem to meaning?

by David DiSalvo February 24, 2011

[Spoiler Alert: this post contains information about the ending of the play] HBO has long benefited from a reputation for taking chances on risky material. Some of these risks spawned culture-changing juggernauts like “The Sopranos”, while others teetered then rapidly fell into abject failure (“John from Cincinnati” comes to mind). While entertaining the possibility of […]

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Navaratri: Nine divine nights and one attempt at learning a goddess dance

by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein February 23, 2011

I lucked out, living in Hurumzi. I live right by a small, tucked away Hindu temple. As a Jewish-American woman living in a predominantly Muslim world, I’ve sometimes taken comfort in the “otherness” of Hinduism here, visiting the temple, barefoot, on my days off, just to enjoy the cavernous silence of its inner courtyard — […]

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