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Art installation of shoes along the Danube in memory of Jews killed in Budapest, Hungary, in World War II

April 7, 1944. Erev Passover. For the first time since the beginning of World War II, Hungarian Jews were forced to wear the yellow star. Until then, they’d been largely spared from the lunacy of the Final Solution. But that had changed on March 19, when Germany occupied its ally Hungary, setting the stage for the largest and most expeditious killing tirade of the Holocaust.

There will surely be many 75th anniversary commemorations of World War II in the coming months. But what happened in...

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Closeup aerial view of a mans hand holding a black trash bag in a kitchen

Cleaning guru Marie Kondo and her KonMari method are all the rage, inspired by her 2014 book and new Netflix series. In both, Kondo teaches us to organize our stuff and toss what we don’t need, using a method centered around inventorying everything we own and getting rid of anything that doesn’t serve a purpose or “spark joy.”

To me, the entire process feels a bit reminiscent of cleaning for...

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Pink and white blossoms on tree branches

In the past few weeks, my mom has lost two of her dearest friends: her 92-year-old neighbor, Norman, with whom she attended symphony concerts, synagogue services, and weekly dinners, and a beautiful, brilliant, and unfailingly kind 98-year-old Holocaust survivor, Bronia, with whom she spoke by phone every day.

I’ve been trying to think of ways to cheer her up and bring her some measure of comfort. If I could, I’d snap my fingers and usher her into a Shabbat service sure to make her face light up: a “three-Torah Shabbat...

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Tiny Star of David charm held up against a sunset

I know I am; I am a Jew, Know how good this is to be. But how now this Jew to be good and true, As these living trials stride through? I know, this reflection, can never, Reach God’s perfection, Goodness through dust till dust. But I try, just try, try just to be just. Not the perfect Jew, that I am not. Perfectly try I try to help what I see, I can do this now to achieve. Can I be some truth, By doing this good, Being a blessing with mercy and faith? Just an image am I, walking through this life, Approach God now with nearness each step, So I know, I am not the just perfect Jew, I just...

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Three members of the author's family singing a song from one of her plays at their seder

While others cook and clean, something I do each year to prepare for our family’s Passover seder is write jokes for Moses, Miriam, Pharaoh, and even God. That’s because one of our favorite traditions is adding a play to our family’s retelling of the familiar Passover story. No rehearsals are required, props are minimal, and we are both the actors and the audience as we read our parts around the seder table.

To begin, I search print sources and the internet for a new play to perform. For the past several years,...

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