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Challah with blue strands of "water" flowing from it.

What started as a one-time experiment to shape a challah to reflect the Torah portion about Noah has grown into a two-year project of creating thematic challot (plural of challah). Rising fourth year Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) rabbinical student Vanessa Harper calls it “Lechlechallah,” punning on Lech L’cha, the Torah portion in which God instructs...

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Map of Iran on an old-fashioned globe

Like many, I was gripped by the Iran hostage crisis that began on November 4, 1979, when 52 Americans were captured by Iranian militants – followers of the Ayatollah Khomeini – who scaled the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. When I learned through the media about a humanitarian visit, I contacted the organizer and two weeks later received a phone call: Was I interested in an 11-day mission to see the hostages?

On February 5, 1980, our clergy group flew to Tehran. Entering the airport terminal, we found bare walls, plastered only with pictures of the Ayatollah Khomeini....

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Erlanger family

Jeffrey Erlanger gained fame at age 10 when he appeared on “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” in his electric-powered wheelchair. After visiting with Jeff, Mister Rogers turned to the camera and said, “For all of Jeff’s physical problems, he’s such a competent boy. He has learned so much because his mom and dad love him and he loves them.”

On the eve of Father’s Day, I sat down with Jeff’s parents, Howie and Pam Erlanger, to gain insights about how they raised such a competent and loving son.

ReformJudaism.org: As...

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The author with his husband and their sons

My father’s birthday was June 17. As a result, his birthday sometimes fell on Father’s Day. Even when it did not, it was close enough so that the two observances were conflated into one. Father’s Day usually involved an Old Spice gift set and dinner out which, of course, my father paid for.

Growing up, my husband’s father would usually grill something on the barbeque for Father’s Day and the day often involved a trip to the local amusement park, followed by ice cream. According to my husband, his father usually received a tie or shirt for Father’s Day.

On our first date,...

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The author's son and grandson at a Little League baseball field

For me, Father’s Day is a time of memory.

My dad died more than two decades ago. My parents were divorced when I was little, so my father-son bonding took place on alternate weekends, when I traveled from Philadelphia to Baltimore to see him. Especially when I was young, he needed to work for almost the entire weekend, so our bonding was usually around meals and, most notably, during football season, when we attended Baltimore Colts games on Sunday afternoons.

It was sitting on those seats at the old Memorial Stadium that we quietly “talked.” I learned a lot about “stuff”...

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