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A young black man wearing a prayer shawl and a head covering while reading from a Jewish prayer book

Whenever I enter Jewish spaces, whether it’s my first time or my fiftieth, I make a conscious effort to bring one or all of the following: my kippah (head covering), my Sh’ma bracelet, and my Magen David (Star of David) necklace.

I wear these items because I love being Jewish, and physical reminders of my Judaism help me feel more at home while attending Shabbat services, festivals, etc. – but I also bring them because, as a black...

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Recently, as I’ve done every February for 32 years, I stopped to think about Marilyn Klinghoffer.

Maybe you’ve never heard of her. Or maybe you’ve forgotten. But for a brief moment in 1985, Marilyn Klinghoffer was a household name – and the reason I remember her is because she changed my life.

It started that September, when I was an aspiring journalist in a dead-end editing job, and I landed an interview at a trade-publishing company. Assuming the HR manager would be a suited-up corporate type, I was shocked when a tiny, gray-haired woman welcomed me into her office. She...

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Hand reaching toward Michelle Obamas book Becoming

These days, when just about everyone in the political arena writes a book as a prelude to a run for office, I find it refreshing that former First Lady Michelle Obama would create an account of her experiences simply for her readers’ enlightenment. Becoming, the highly popular autobiography of an equally popular public figure, is truly an engaging read, revealing the honest, down-to-earth character of the woman who became the United States’ first black First Lady. Mrs. Obama uses the book to reflect on the life lessons she’s learned along the way toward her tenure in holding that role....

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LGBTQ rally in Israel

Recently, I walked into the student lounge at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in Israel, went to my locker, made some tea, and began paging through my Hebrew book. I have come to appreciate my unshakable habit of arriving to campus too early, utilizing the extra minutes to calmly prepare for another day of classes.

Another student who shares this habit walked into the lounge, but rather than leading with his typically affable demeanor, he expressed anger and pain over a political advertisement. After seeing the look of...

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A man in a kippah walks by a wall of photos of people who disappeared during Guatemalas internal armed conflict

During an intense week in January, I traveled around Guatemala, learning about good people in a dire situation. I met human rights workers, whose efforts are criminalized; midwives, whose skills go unrecognized; women’s rights activists, whose protests are marginalized; journalists, whose reporting is trivialized; and survivors of forced eviction, whose very right to exist has been jeopardized.

I traveled as part of a group of 15 U.S. rabbis who are spending a year learning about poverty, human rights, and justice as we study these issues through the perspective of Jewish values...

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