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Star of David on wrought iron gate leading to old cemetery

The 25th anniversary re-release of Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List this month has reignited criticism as well as praise for the Oscar-winning film.

A recent story in the Forward, titled “What’s Wrong with ‘Schindler’s List?’ Kind of a Lot” revived the main complaint of the movie’s detractors. It quotes Liel Leibovits, who wrote in Tablet  that “the movie, really, is about a Christ-like gentile who saves a horde of hapless Jews who have no agency or resolve of their own.”

Speaking at a 1994 Village Voice symposium, Art Spiegelman, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his...

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Two wooden mailboxes covered in snow

I was rushing through the aisles of Stop and Shop on my lunch hour last Friday, having made up my mind to cook a traditional Ashkenazi Hanukkah dinner on the auspicious occasion of meeting my daughter’s boyfriend’s family for the first time. I was hosting them the next night and opted for a crowd-pleasing menu: potato soup, brisket, latkes, applesauce, and a...

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Blurry Christmas tree in the lobby of a building like a workplace or hotel

We chose to raise our children in a home that celebrated Hanukkah – but sustaining a minority culture in the face of Christmas’s incessant commercial drumbeat was exhausting.

“No, Santa isn’t coming to our house.” “Yes, he’s going to your friends’ houses.” “Yes, it’s exciting that Santa brought your friend a tricycle.” “No, Santa still isn’t coming to our house.”

On the bright side, the situation provided an opportunity to teach my children that we live in a great country where people have many different religions and the...

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Microphone at the front of a large room; background of photo is blurred

Even though the Jewish people are known as the “People of the Book,” sometimes our sacred stories can seem virtually inaccessible to us. We might read them in ritual settings such as Shabbat or holiday services. We might parody them in Purim-spiels and ask questions about them at our Passover seders. But connecting to these collective stories on a deeper, more personal level can be a challenge.

As a rabbi, overcoming this challenge is the focus of...

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Five NFTY in Israel leaders, two young men and three young women, all smiling

As director of NFTY in Israel and a resident of Jerusalem, I was asked recently to write a blog post about Israel. With that in mind, I am going back to a topic I know well – or at least one I care about deeply: the complicated relationship between North American and Israeli Jews.

Having made aliyah (moving to Israel to live) 15 years ago, I have one foot firmly planted in the North American Jewish community and one foot firmly planted in the Israeli Jewish community. In my daily life, I can’t speak English without throwing in Hebrew words. Yet...

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