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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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Closeup of a police siren in the dark with colorful but blurry lights  in the distance

At least 17 people are dead and more injured in a horrific shooting Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. Once again, in the wake of senseless and devastating gun violence, we mourn, we come together, we offer words of condolence – and we ask how we can prevent these tragedies from happening again.

Says Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, in a statement from the Reform Movement issued...

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Young woman looking back over her shoulder and smiling

I had the opportunity to visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem on my first trip to Israel through the Reform Movement’s Sci-Tech Israel program. Jerusalem was one of the most anticipated stops on our tour of numerous factories and tech-startups located throughout the nation. My soul was swelling with excitement; I knew I was footsteps away from a place I had merely visited in childhood daydreams. As I walked through the women’s courtyard for the very first time, I noticed that a stark barrier stood distinctly to my left, separating me from the...

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