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Flooded sanctuary caused by vandals in Israeli congregation

This past Shabbat we read from the Torah portion Mishpatim about the ordinances set before the Israelites. Apparently, the Ten Commandments, important as they may be, are insufficient to guide a proper social structure. For a better understanding of what is expected of us, the text offers clear guidance on a wide variety of circumstances that differ in complexity and nuance.

For example: “If an ox gores a man or a woman to death...

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Closeup of a person holding a fanned out handful of money

The #10YearChallenge gained widespread traction on social media this month: This catchy Facebook trend calls for users to post posting two side by side photos of themselves — one from 2009 and another from 2019 — to show how much they’ve changed in the last decade. My newsfeed has been flooded with friends, teachers, and acquaintances alike who were eager to participate in this silly, yet somehow intriguing, online craze. The enthusiasm around the trend encouraged me to reflect on what else has changed over the past decade of my life.

Ten years ago, I was preparing for my...

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architectural blueprint

When I was a little kid, the word “pattern” meant only one thing to me – the origami-like templates on tissue paper, cut-outs for making clothes, that came neatly folded in an envelope. Each envelope featured a drawing of a finished dress or skirt that would result if the enclosed directions were followed carefully. The idea was to pin the tissue stencils onto fabric, cut the fabric along the dotted lines, and sew the resulting pieces of cloth together on a sewing machine to form a finished garment.

In this week’s Torah reading,...

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Disembodied arm with fist held high in the air

Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month is an opportunity every February for a national conversation about disability, including the different ways people with disabilities – nearly one in four Americans – identify today. Rabbi Edythe Held Mencher, LCSW, director of Union for Reform Judaism’s Presidential Initiative for Disabilities Inclusion, helps us understand why the language of disability is such a powerful determinant of social attitudes, from prejudice to pride. What are some of the assumptions we make...

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Closeup of snowflakes

“He casts forth His ice as fragments. Who can stand before His cold.” Psalm 147:17

It’s been cold this week – so cold that where I live, the county cancelled school two days in a row. “Extreme weather days,” they are called, not “snow days.” Snow days can be fun; not so this kind of cold. It was colder in Chicago this week than it was in the North Pole.

There’s nothing like the absence of something to make us more appreciative of its presence.

Just as fasting on Yom Kippur helps us...

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