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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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Plate of hamantaschen with different fillings

I’m in Machane Yehuda – the big shuk or market in Jerusalem – just like I am every week. The “oznei Haman” have arrived. In Israel, hamantaschen are called “Haman’s ears” and with a bit of imagination, I can almost make sense of that. Every year, I wander from bakery to bakery during the weeks preceding Purim, and I end up carbohydratedly disappointed. My search for the hamantaschen of my youth are nowhere to be found.

The bakeries in Jerusalem, and especially in the shuk, make...

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World map spray painted in white on a red brick wall

In a dramatic shift, the Jewish people has gone from being a worldwide people to being a first-world people.

More than 90% of world Jewry now lives in first-world countries, those with the most advanced economies, the greatest influence, the highest standards of living, and the greatest technological prowess.

We Jews imagine that we form part of an am olam, a global people spread from one end of the world unto the other. I remember Dr. Jacob Rader Marcus teaching Hebrew Union College students that the sun never sets on the Jewish people....

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