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Sometimes in the morning I find myself singing the words אין מספיק כפה בעולם / ein maspik cafe ba'olam - "there's not enough coffee in the world" - to the Rizhyner's melody for Ana B'Koach. (That's the first mp3 of the several on this page.)

And then I acquire a cup of joe, and I change my tune. Instead of bemoaning what I don't have, I celebrate what I do. The blessing I say over my morning coffee is a line from our daily liturgy, and the practice of using it in this way is one I learned from my friend...

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Female songleader Dawn Bernstein leads a group of campers in song in a photo from URJ GUCI camp in the 1970s

I learned to play guitar on my Dad's $20 bargain purchase from Eaton's.

It was collecting dust in his closet, and I thought I would give it a go. I really just wanted to play some of the old Peter, Paul, and Mary songs that he was so fond of so that we could sing together. I never thought of the possibilities or where that old six-string might take me.

When I was growing up, Jewish music was the sole purview of men. Even in my Reform synagogue, I had never seen a woman sing on the bimah (pulpit), with the exception of a...

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Kutz campers in a group each holding signs about why they vote

My name is Tali, and I just spent three and a half weeks learning how to be an effective and just leader.

Specifically, I participated in the "Action and Advocacy" immersive program at URJ Kutz Camp, a Reform Jewish summer camp for teen leaders, which taught me the importance of civic engagement and effective leadership when it comes to organizing and bringing people together to make change. Given this recent experience, this week’s Torah portion, Shof’tim, presents...

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Many pairs of hands forming hearts

The chirping of the end-of-summer cicadas and the waning of the season’s long, warm days are sure signs the Hebrew month of Elul is upon us. With its arrival, I begin to contemplate the approaching Days of Awe and how I can best prepare for them.

In traditional Jewish communities, the shofar is sounded at synagogue during this month of spiritual preparation. Many Jews also recite Psalm 27 twice each day, as they...

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Firefighter from behind climbing steps to a building in a raging fire

As wildfires continue to ravage northern California, the Carr fire in Shasta County has destroyed the homes of at least four families from Temple Beth Israel in Redding, CA. Another family’s home has suffered significant fire and smoke damage, and many members remain displaced.

Among the most destructive in the state’s history, the fire has killed seven people since it began on July 23. Our prayers are with those in harm’s way,...

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