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Various tallitot on display

The public address system in the temple crackled before the synagogue’s executive director announced we were about to engage in a lockdown drill. The disembodied voice emphasized the word “drill.”

In the small library where minutes earlier I’d met a new bar mitzvah student, I struggled to bolt the room’s two doors. I lowered the blinds to cover a window that overlooks a courtyard in which people often meditate. My student appeared calm and unfazed as I sat down at the table next to him. The lights were supposed to be...

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Black and white image of a persons hands bound with chains

Throughout history, Jews have experienced the bitterness of slavery and the sweetness of freedom. Yet too often, we only think about issues of slavery around Passover. This Shabbat, however, coincides with Human Trafficking Awareness Day (January 11, 2019), a reminder that slavery is sadly alive and well today. In fact, more people are enslaved today than at any other point in history – more than 40 million people worldwide.

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The author in Israel

It can be difficult to pinpoint a single favorite aspect of one’s job, but I know mine. In my capacity as recruitment and marketing director for URJ Heller High (a semester in Israel program for Jewish high school students), I have had the opportunity to chaperone several student groups on their flight to Israel and spend the first week of the semester with them. 

At the end of that first week, the group travels to Jerusalem to welcome Shabbatat the Kotel (Western...

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Hands of a young man cutting a tomato from the vine

As the Torah begins to recount the long-ago slavery of our people in Egypt, my mind and my heart turn to tomato farmworkers in Immokalee, Florida.

Recently, I visited Immokalee for three days through a program sponsored by T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights that was led by Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster.

Ninety percent of all tomatoes that are eaten fresh in the eastern United States are grown in Immokalee. It is one of Florida’s poorest cities and life for its farm laborers is mired in poverty – even after hours of back-breaking work...

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Author Amos Oz with Israeli activist Anat Hoffman

Amos Oz was a world-renowned Israeli writer, whose work expresses the complexity, the tragedy, and the wonder of Israel. Oz condensed the Ten Commandants into a single commandment, "Don’t Hurt Others!" He then added that if you must, then hurt as little as possible. He was known for his warnings that extremism and violence within Israel would lead to catastrophe. He died with an intact moral compass and a broken heart.

There are great philosophical discussions about the nature of truth, but what of the nature of a lie? That, every child can easily analyze. As a lover of the Hebrew...

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