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Large elephant standing in tall grass against a bright blue sky

One afternoon last January, I took a walk alone so that I could spend time with the elephants. I was in midst of my week-long volunteer adventure at Elephant Nature Park, a nature reserve outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand, that spans more than 300 acres and houses rescued Asian elephants.

Asian elephants are frequently used in the tourist industry, illegal logging, and in street begging. In order to get them to safely interact with humans, elephants are snatched from their mothers in infancy and subjected to an unnatural and abusive...

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Aerial view of an empty chair at a wooden table

When we gather on April 19 and 20 to mark the first two nights of Passover, we will pray. And we will ask aloud: What makes this year’s seders different from all others?

These two nights will mark the first seders since two African-American individuals were killed at a grocery store parking lot simply because of their race; their murderer wanted to shoot up a church.

What makes these seders different from last year’s?

These two seders will be the first since 11 people were killed in a Pittsburgh synagogue simply because they were Jewish.

What makes this year...

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Lit tealights in the shape of a Star of David

The word Shoah is Hebrew for “catastrophe” or “utter destruction. It is fitting, then, that Holocaust Remembrance Day* is known as Yom HaShoah, a day first commemorated in 1949 and officially made Israeli state policy by 1951. It is observed annually on the 27th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan, the anniversary of the start of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising – which means that this year, we’ll observe it from May 1-2. Commemorations begin at sundown.

In Israel, a state ceremony is held in Warsaw Ghetto Square at...

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Matzah brei with green onion garnish on a plate

With Passover coming up this week, housecleaning, matzah-ball making, and other essential preparations are well underway in many Jewish households. Much of the work is intensely physical, requiring that we bend and sweep, scrub and vacuum to find and remove every bit of chametz (wheat, barley, rye, oats, or spelt) from our homes. The rabbis of the Talmud were, you’ll pardon the pun, smart cookies and understood well that the physical experience of preparing for the week-long holiday might (and, they hoped, would)...

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Overflowing bucket of popcorn against a red background

I was born Jewish but married into Judaism.

That is to say, I grew up in a Jewish family, in which we lit Hanukkah candles and were inspired to make the world a better place. But it wasn’t until my twenties that I truly became enchanted by the rich practices, deep structure, and community experience of Judaism.

I met my husband-to-be on Shavuot, a holiday I’d never heard of until a few days earlier. At...

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