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Dear Rabbi,

I hope this letter finds you well, and shavua tov/Shabbat shalom, depending on when you read this.

I wanted to write this letter – publicly and openly – as a form of gratitude and appreciation. A lot of events, circumstances, and people led to my becoming a Jew, but you stand out in particular. You were the first rabbi with whom I ever discussed the idea of conversion, and I felt comfortable doing so because of your personality and approach to Judaism.

As a full-time...

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Actress playing Hannah Senesh in the play of the same name

Blessed is the match, consumed in kindling flame. Blessed is the flame that burns in the heart’s secret places. Blessed is the heart that knows, for honors sake, to stop its beating. Blessed is the match, consumed in kindling flame. – Hannah Senesh

Hannah Senesh, who was martyred at age 23 while on a rescue mission in Nazi-occupied Hungary, is perhaps best known for her two poems, “Blessed Is the Match” and “Eli, Eli.” She has also been immortalized in books, film, and theater – most recently by the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene’s revival of...

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Collage of photos of the author at the Tel Aviv Pride Parade

A disturbing headline grabbed my attention as I scrolled through my news feed last month. It read, “Jerusalem chief rabbi: Gay people cannot be religious, shouldn’t pretend to be.” As a queer rabbinical student, I found the rabbi’s comments to be inaccurate at best and, at worst, possible incitement to hatred or violence against LGBTQ+ Jews.

Additionally, the rabbi had seemingly given his remarks in a sermon on the preceding...

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Israeli and Palestinian flags painted on a brick wall

It’s Shabbat morning and I am in a van making its way along a dusty, bumpy road. On my right is a young Arab-Israeli doctor in a hijab. In front of her is a middle-aged Jewish Israeli pediatrician. In front of me is an Eritrean nun, and she is sitting next to Professor Raphi Walden, a vascular surgeon on the management team at Sheba Hospital outside Tel Aviv and president of Physicians for Human Rights Israel.

The sights and sounds of last night’s Kabbalat Shabbat service at the Tel Aviv port are still with me – the...

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Two young women holding signs protesting gun violence

I will not mince words: the violence we witnessed this weekend is sickening. Twenty-nine people were killed in separate mass shootings in El Paso, TX and Dayton, OH – not to mention the 47 injured and four killed by guns in Chicago, and the countless more who didn’t make headlines across the United States. 

Just hours afer the shooting in El Paso, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism,...

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