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During the month of Elul, we engaged in reflection in hopes of spiritual return, or t’shuvah.  The Green Team at Temple Israel Boston (TI) has been reflecting - and working - to reduce our synagogue’s carbon footprint and to educate congregants on ways they can reduce their individual carbon footprint. As Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said, “Few are guilty, but all are responsible.” Individual and collective t’shuvah, repentance, are both essential.   

Having a dedicated...

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Damage caused to cemetery fence by a tree that fell during Hurricane Florence

Rabbi Emily Losben-Ostrov had been on the job for only a few weeks as spiritual leader of Temple of Israel in Wilmington, NC, when she faced a challenge that neither rabbinical school nor 10 years in the pulpit had prepared her for: a Category 4 hurricane that hit during the Days of Awe.

While conducting Rosh HaShanah morning services, she recalls, “You could see the worried look on people’s faces. Would they be able to stay in their homes or need to evacuate? What...

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Silhouette of a woman staring into a pink sunset

The story of Hagar and her son, Ishmael, is a heartbreaking one to me. She was the handmaid of Sarah, who have her to Abraham when she, Sarah, seemed barren. Hagar had a son, but when Sarah finally gave birth to Isaac, she grew jealous and demanded that Abraham send Hagar and Ishmael away into the desert.

Though reticent, Abraham did as she asked, sending Hagar and her son away with only a water flask and some bread. When that little bit of sustenance was gone, Hagar and Ishmael cried out in their despair. God heard their cried and sent an angel to Hagar, to tell her not to fear,...

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The author and his daughter riding camels in Israel

I was “born and raised Jewish” in that 1940s and 1950s way – culturally tied to the religion, but not particularly interested in the religiosity itself. In that realm, Israel was a place we supported because it was the home of victims of the Holocaust and heroes who founded the nation. It was a far-away, exotic, and strange land that, as a Jewish homeland, demanded some monetary donations and the planting of some trees, even though few in my community in Rockaway, Queens, had any real religious ties to the local synagogue or to the nation itself.

Sure, I became...

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Smiling camp staffers pose in front of a bunk sign

Over dinner one evening during the winter of 2007, my mother posed a question to our family. She had been offered a job as the doctor for URJ Eisner Camp, a Reform Jewish sleepaway camp in the Berkshires, and she wanted to know if we would be interested in going. After our meal, my sister and I went upstairs where my mother put a DVD into our bulky old TV, depicting life at this camp.

My eyes were glued to the glowing screen as I watched kids rejoicing in song and prayer, playing sports, acting, swimming, and just hanging out with their friends...

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