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Line of red tealight candles lit in the dark

This Shabbat, we honor lives lost at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, and say Mourner's Kaddish for the following individuals, as well as all those killed by gun violence thus far in 2018: 

  • Alyssa Alhadeff, 14, URJ Camp Coleman camper and soccer player with Parkland Travel Soccer
  • Scott Beigel, 35, Geography teacher and staff member at Camp Starlight, a predominantly Jewish summer camp in Pennsylvania...
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Female summer campers dressed all in white as is customary for Shabbat services at Jewish camp

To my dear campers at URJ Camp Coleman:

After 17 people were murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14th, including one of your fellow campers, I haven’t been able to think of what to say except for “I am so sorry.” I am. I am so, so sorry.

I’m sorry that you lost a friend, and that two of you lost a sister. I’m sorry that some of you were in the...

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Dozens of teens standing on the Tallahassee Capitol steps wearing PARKLAND STRONG signs and carry gun violence prevention signs

I hope you saw the news stories about buses of students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, making their way to Florida’s Capitol to plead with their legislators about preventing gun violence. For the past 24 hours, the Parkland Reform Jewish community made me one of their own and welcomed me onto their own bus to Tallahassee with NFTY: The Reform Jewish Youth Movement.  

I spent eight hours driving from Parkland to the Capitol with a group of my friends...

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Person facing a choice: Order to the right; chaos to the left

Growing up in Southern Virginia, I was one of the only Jewish students in my public school. Although my brother had to fend off misguided children, who occasionally called him “Christ Killer,” I was dubbed “Hanukkah Person” for my love of the colorful candles, the chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil, and, of course, the presents, which, in our home, often were real coins – the silver dollar variety.

For good reason, no one ever called me “Purim Person.”...

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Silver crystal studded crown lying on pillowy satin material

When Meredith Jacobs was taught the Purim story as a little girl in the 1970s and '80s, Esther was made out to be its heroine, while Queen Vashti was its "evil queen.” According to the Book of Esther, Vashti was banished by her husband, the Persian King Ahasuerus, for refusing his order to display herself wearing her crown in front of his male guests. A body of traditional commentary depicts Vashti as disobedient and a fraud.

As an adult, Jacobs...

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