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A row of five women with arms intertwined, seen from the back

Rachel then said; “A mighty rivalry have I waged with my sister; moreover, I have prevailed.” -- Genesis 30:8

In this little-known narrative from this week’s Torah portion, Vayeitzi, as often happens in stories featuring women, Rachel and Leah are pitted against one another.

Also in the parashah (Torah portion), Jacob travels to visit Laban, meets Rachel, and falls in love with her. Her father Laban insists that in order to marry her, Jacob must work for him for...

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Artwork of hands of different hues

Editor's Note: This piece came from a random yet delightful Facebook conversation between Rabbi Allison Bergman Vann and me just before the High Holidays. After seeing, from my social media posts, how much I love the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Rabbi Vann asked to discuss how the themes in the critically acclaimed movie Black Panther regarding unity and connection could be included in a Rosh HaShanah sermon. This essay is the result of that conversation: a “remixed” version of her incredible sermon and an example of what...

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Shards of broken glass

Today Jews will commemorate the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht (Night of the Broken Glass), the pogrom in Germany and Austria in which 91 Jews were killed, more than 30,000 imprisoned in concentration camps, and hundreds of synagogues and Jewish-owned shops set ablaze. It was the first large-scale attack on German Jews in the Third Reich.

We remember Kristallnacht as we mourn the 11 victims of the deadliest attack on Jews in American history.

What happened in Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue attack is frightening, but we must guard against drawing direct parallels...

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Noah benShea, author of the Jacob the Baker series of books

Noah benShea is the international best-selling author of the Jacob the Baker series, translated into 18 languages. Jacob is a poor but pious baker who lives an anonymous life and writes notes to himself, trying to make sense of his life, until one of his notes is accidentally baked into a loaf of his bread. When a woman finds the note and Jacob is “discovered,” suddenly people from near and far come to Jacob with their questions about life, loss, prayer, and love.

ReformJudaism.org: The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) had a significant hand in the...

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Congregants welcoming Shabbat with arms linked together

I’ve been having a hard time expressing how the murders at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue have hit me, partly because I would have been horrified even before I became Jewish, but mostly because I understand there’s nothing unique about my grief except that the fear imbedded in it is new to me.

When I first became involved in Judaism, I was surprised by how aware Jews were that they could become targets of societal violence. I’d grown up among Protestant World War II veterans, not Holocaust survivors, and I took safety for granted. I also took American progress toward inclusion...

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