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White cloth chuppah with Jewish star in the background

“My partner and I will soon pull out our passports, your honors, and exchange vows on foreign soil. Not your sick institutions and not the State which you are trying to take ownership of – neither will take away from this moment, that is also for us, secular Israelis, believe it or not, sacred. You will not decide on what pillars our home will be built, because we believe in strong, liberal, and egalitarian pillars that bring light into our home.

And you? You are shades that have been pulled down, closed off rooms, representatives of the Stone Age who insist on imposing an old-...

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Statue of Paul Revere atop a horse

Jonathan D. Sarna is the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University and chair of the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program. He is the past president of the Association for Jewish Studies, chief historian of the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, and author or editor of more than 30 books, including the National Jewish Book Award-winning American Judaism: A History. When did Jews first appear in...

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Four ripe pomegranates hanging on a leafy tree

Elul is the Hebrew month that precedes the High Holidays (Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur), a time of study and personal reflection on our actions of the past year. It also is a time when we seek forgiveness from those we have wronged or with whom we otherwise have “missed the mark” in our interactions and behaviors. This year, Elul begins at sundown tonight, Tuesday, August 22nd.

Here are seven things to know about Elul. Whether you...

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A row of lit votive candles

Temple Israel of Alameda in Alameda, CA, was vandalized last week. Someone came by during the night Wednesday and broke two windows, and tried to break the glass doors of the synagogue with rocks. In the wake of the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, this was even more upsetting than it would normally be to local Jews.

Temple Israel is a small synagogue of only about 100 households. They have a part-time rabbi. They are about 15 minutes from my home, so I...

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Rabbis Tom Gutherz and Rachel Schmelkin of Congregation Beth Israel in Charlottesville stand in a synagogue sanctuary together with Union for Reform Judaism President Rabbi Rick Jacobs

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” During the last week, the leaders and community at Congregation Beth Israel in Charlottesville have met Dr. King’s high bar of moral leadership.

I had the privilege to worship and spend time with this extraordinary congregation less than a week after the Shabbat that shook this community – and most of our world – to its core. I brought the love, support, and admiration of the entire Reform...

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