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Yellow, diamond-shaped traffic sign that says OOPS!

My mother-in-law bounced our children, each in their own time, endlessly on her lap to the jaunty pulse of a cautionary German nursery rhyme, “Hoppe Hoppe, Reiter” (“Hop, Hop, Rider”), that warns of the dangers of tumbling from a horse and the need to avoid a disgraceful descent that includes a muddy ditch, a broken leg, and, ultimately, a grisly demise by murderous ravens. This bouncing, bungee-jumping game was a favorite for all three of our children. 

“Do Hoppe,” my tiny children begged me when Grandma was not around. They do not understand that my parents never learned ...

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Lattice-topped lemon cake on the counter; two fresh lemons alongside the pan

For most of my professional life, I have endeavored to keep our culinary heritage alive as a connection to our ancestors; after all, their lives allow us to live our Jewish lives today. I often finish my lectures about the history of Jewish cuisine with a quote from David Ben Gurion, the first prime minister of the State of Israel: “We Jews must never live in the past, but the past must always live within us.”

Having just completed the High Holiday season, when we assess our lives and remember our ancestors, I want to tell you a true story about uncovering roots and the non-...

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Lulav and etrog against a bright blue background

While all Jewish holidays serve as great opportunities to practice audacious hospitality, Sukkot has always stood out to me as the most audaciously hospitable of Jewish holidays. What other time of year do we build a temporary makeshift house through the commandment of inviting ushpizin (guests), with the goal of inviting others into it and dwelling together as a community?

In addition to the sukkah itself, we can find similar imagery of audacious hospitality in the...

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Close up of a persons fingers holding a button bearing the colors of the bisexuality pride flag

“Coming out” is an incredibly important and defining moment for many members of the LGBTQ+ community. Coming out means something different to everybody, and no individual story is alike.

As someone who is Jewish and bisexual (bi), I used to think coming out meant making a huge spectacle out of it. I thought I’d practically have to throw a lavish, queer party and make a formal declaration of my commitment to the bi people (a bi mitzvah, perhaps).

I’d later realize, of course, that isn’t the case – and I’d also realize that while coming out can be difficult for everyone,...

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President Andrew Rehfeld with HUC JIR students on the Jerusalem campus

Andrew Rehfeld, Ph.D., is the 10th president in the 144-year history of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR). Having served as associate professor of political science at Washington University in St. Louis and as president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, Dr. Rehfeld’s career has bridged the academic and Jewish worlds.

I sat down with him at the New York City campus of HUC-JIR to ask him about the path that led to his new role. Who were your Jewish earliest influencers growing up in...

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