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A womans hand writing out sticky name tags with a blue marker

Names are an important part of one’s Jewish identity. We hold ceremonies dedicated to naming our children, converts to Judaism choose a Hebrew name, and figures from the Torah even change their names as their relationships with the Divine evolve (Abram became Abraham, Jacob became Israel). Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) even suggests that a person’s name is so powerful that it can literally shape their reality and determine their destiny.

But what do you do when you’re...

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The author and her husband at a breast cancer event

Throughout the Bible, Jews are referred to as the “chosen people.” There are many interpretations and debates about whether this nomenclature applies only to Jews, and if so, about the specific meaning of “chosen.” I believe all people are chosen to make a difference, and in that spirit, I am sharing my story as it relates to breast cancer.

I became a quadriplegic at age 16 and have dealt with many health challenges since then. Approximately nine years ago, I developed significant pressure sores that required surgery. Although the surgery was successful, I had serious complications...

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Still from the film featuring Waldheim appearing on Austrian national TV

Ruth Beckermann’s new film, The Waldheim Waltz, is a persuasive accounting of the life and political career of Kurt Josef Waldheim, who served as the fourth secretary general of the United Nations (1972 -1981) and later elected as president of Austria (1986-1992). The documentary not only lays bare the revelations about his World War II military service that surfaced during his presidential run, but also examines how a country’s very identity can become ensnared in the debate over the misdeeds of one individual.

Berkermann,...

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In the foreground, a digitized image of a double helix in various shades of pink and magenta

When I was in my late 20s, I visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. I was prepared to be moved, disturbed, and even frightened by what I would encounter there. After all, my father and his parents and grandmother escaped Berlin in 1941, a fact that has hung over our family’s history like a veil. But the thing that stood out for me so powerfully during that visit was how much the faces of the European Jews looked just like me.

Genetics is a strange thing. We inherit our hair color, our height, our dimples from our ancestors. I inherited my deep brown...

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A group of friends eating a casual dinner together

Although I have been living in Jerusalem since August, only in this past week has my schedule achieved some semblance of normalcy. This is because the fall holidays do not simply affect one day at a time in Israel, rather they impact entire weeks.

There are plenty of similarities in religious observances for Jews around the world – on Rosh HaShanah we eat apples and honey, on Yom Kippur we fast, on...

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