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Close up of the hands of an elderly man clutching the top of a cane

April is National Poetry Month, a time to celebrate everyone who loves to write,  read, or listen to poems of every kind. The late Reform Jewish leader Albert Vorspan, z”l, who we remember first and foremost as a champion of social justice, took up poetry while living at Woodland Pond, a continuing care retirement community in upstate New York.  

Although I knew Al, my friend and mentor at the Union for Reform Judaism, for more than 40 years, I...

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Closeup of a woman consoling a teenager

As Jewish summer camps and other cherished summer programs announce that they will not open during summer 2020 due to COVID-19 risks, parents are left to share the news with their children, many of whom are sure to be heartbroken.

Supporting young children during this difficult time begins with understanding that everyone’s needs are different. Factors like age-specific maturity and whether or not they have been to camp before will affect how each child receives the news and can guide the way you tell them and comfort them.

This resource can guide you and your family in...

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Cartoon mouths on sticks like photobooth props

A famous comedian (though sources aren’t sure exactly which one!) once said that  tragedy plus time equals comedy. I don’t believe tragedy is necessary for jokes to work, but comedy certainly can certainly lessen the pain of our tsuris (troubles). That’s why, when people ask how I can be so flip in the face of disaster, I can honestly say: I’m a Jew. It’s a learned survival skill.

Even in the darkest days of the ghettos and Nazi concentration camps, Jews didn’t lose their sense of humor. Here’s a classic bit of...

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Timepiece partially buried in sand

When I was 6 or 7 years old, my older sister, our friend, and I draped a sheet over my mother’s backyard clothesline in Champaign, IL, to create our secret clubhouse. In the 1940s, if you didn’t have a tree house or some kind of playhouse in your backyard, you rigged up a makeshift shelter where you could chat, share secrets, and keep a stash of forbidden goodies.

One day while in our hideaway, the chit-chatting got to me, and I screamed, “We’re not getting anything done.” I made a quick exit out of the hideaway and ran into our house.

“Getting something done” has been my...

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Womans hand holding a coffee cup next to a pen and a pad of paper

Since stay-at-home orders went into effect due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I have enthusiastically and gratefully joined a few Shabbat services across the country every week. I’ve joined remote services in multiple cities within my home state of California, as well as in Virginia, North Carolina, and beyond.

Some of them have become my regular go-to services, and because I live on the West Coast, I am often able to participate in three or four Shabbat services each Friday night. In doing so, I’ve witnessed incredible innovation by rabbis, cantors, and other congregational leaders to...

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