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The ‘Splainer

The `Splainer: Hanukkah, the minor Jewish holiday that’s a major deal

By Lauren Markoe — December 16, 2014

Eds: The 'Splainer (as in “You've got some 'splaining to do'') is an occasional online feature in which RNS staff give you everything you need to know about current events to hold your own at a cocktail party.         (RNS) You may know the basic props of Hanukkah: a menorah, a dreidel and chocolate […]

The ‘Splainer: Hanukkah, the minor Jewish holiday that’s a major deal

By Lauren Markoe — December 15, 2014

(RNS) Hanukkah for beginners . . . and some fun facts for those who already know the basics.

The ‘Splainer: blood libel and the synagogue massacre

By Lauren Markoe — November 19, 2014

(RNS) Hours after two Palestinians, armed with guns and hatchets, killed four Jewish worshippers and a Druze police officer at a Jerusalem synagogue Tuesday (Nov. 18), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the attack a “blood libel.” Why, and what did he mean?

Religion survey babble confuses 103% of readers. Here’s why

By Cathy Lynn Grossman — November 18, 2014

(RNS) It used to be that figuring out what Americans think about pretty much anything was relatively simple. No more. Here’s why.

The ‘Splainer: What is a mikvah, and does it have anything to do with sex?

By Lauren Markoe — October 29, 2014

(RNS) A mikvah has to do with the soul . . . and sex.

The ‘Splainer: Beards, belief and baseball

By Kimberly Winston — October 7, 2014

(RNS) The Supreme Court will decide whether a Muslim inmate can grow a beard. So what does facial hair have to do with religion, anyway? Let us ‘Splain …

The ‘Splainer: Yom Kippur, Eid, St. Francis and the poor goats

By Kimberly Winston — October 2, 2014

(RNS) You’ve heard of the scapegoat, right? Here’s how it fits into the overlap of Yom Kippur, Eid al-Adha and St. Francis of Assisi.

The ‘Splainer: What the fatwa?

By Kimberly Winston — September 26, 2014

(RNS) If fatwas can be issued on anything and everything by pretty much any Muslim scholar, why do people pay attention?

The ‘Splainer: The Jewish High Holy Days

By Kimberly Winston — September 24, 2014

(RNS) Everything you need to know for the Jewish High Holy Days, from shofar to tashlich to Kol Nidre.

The ‘Splainer: The fuss over ‘Black Jesus’

By Kimberly Winston — August 8, 2014

(RNS) Conservative critics call “Black Jesus” racially and religiously offensive. But it’s not the first time artistic depictions of Jesus have gotten people all riled up.

The ‘Splainer: Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and religious burial customs

By Kimberly Winston — July 22, 2014

(RNS) For many of the families of the 298 victims aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, the release of the bodies has come too late to complete the burial customs of their various religions.

The ‘Splainer: Who is the new caliph on the block?

By Kimberly Winston — July 1, 2014

(RNS) The last caliph reigned from the seat of the Ottoman Empire — that’s Turkey to you — until he was deposed in1924. Since then many Islamic groups have called for the re-establishment of the caliphate. So how big is the new caliphate, and what does it all mean?

The ‘Splainer: RFRA and the Hobby Lobby case

By Kimberly Winston — June 30, 2014

(RNS) What is this RFRA of which the Supremes speak? Stay with us and there’s ice cream, cake, a puppy and even hallucinogenic drugs in it for you.

The ‘Splainer: Excommunication 101

By Kimberly Winston — June 17, 2014

(RNS) Catholics may have invented the concept of excommunication, but they’re not the only religious group to discipline or sideline members who stray from the official party line.

Sunni vs. Shiite: What you need to know in 5 points so you can make it through a cocktail party

By Kimberly Winston — June 13, 2014

(RNS) Confused about the difference between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, whose conflict has accelerated in Iraq again? Here’s a primer so you can sound smart at the water cooler.

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