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Red paper heart against an orange background with a white line through it like an echo cardiogram

As the anesthesia mask came down, just a few months after my 30th birthday, I said goodbye to my old body. An ultrasound, family history, and medical uncertainty forced my hand; "It might be cancer," my doctor worried. Two hours later, I woke up in an aching, unfamiliar body. All of which, perhaps, would have been unremarkable if the world, too, hadn’t become so unfamiliar itself.

Two weeks earlier, as COVID-19 first caught the wind and jumped oceans, I ricocheted between my responsibilities as a Hillel rabbi at UCLA and officiating...

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Group of smiling American and Cuban Reform Jews gathered together in Cuba before the pandemic began

When I returned from my sixth Jewish humanitarian mission to the island of Cuba at the beginning of February, little did I know that the entire world would be in quarantine only a month later. It now feels like a miracle that we were all able to be together.

I first visited the country in 2005 and wrote about my fifth visit in 2019. In the 15 years since I began visiting the island, I’ve witnessed incredible growth within the community, as well as the continued struggle and survival of...

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A still photo from the documentary depicting synagogue pews with yellow police tape across them and a stained window in the back

Hatred of Jews and Judaism is the world’s oldest social pathology, and Andrew Goldberg’s PBS-TV documentary Viral: Anti-Semitism in Four Mutations (airing in the U.S. on May 26) presents important new insights into this omnipresent odium.

For Goldberg, whose parents were members of Chicago’s Emanuel Congregation, this will be his fourteenth documentary, and as he told me, this one is intensely personal.  During the three years required to complete the 90-minute...

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Home desk setup with Torah study displayed on the screen

Shavuot, like most other Jewish holidays, has been celebrated in many different ways throughout Jewish history. What began as an agricultural festival marking the beginning of the summer wheat harvest transformed into a holiday celebrating the Jews receiving the Torah at Mt. Sinai, often accompanied by eating dairy (or dairy-tasting) foods and all-night-long Torah study.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted so much of how we engage Jewishly, but Shavuot is fantastic holiday for families to celebrate from the safety of...

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Man in a red sweater facing away from the camera while holding the Torah above his head

“You shall proclaim liberty throughout the land for all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you: each of you shall return to his holding and each of you shall return to his family.” (Leviticus 25:10)

“Proclaim liberty” is the most important directive of the Torah, more basic than having one God and more fundamental than honoring one’s parents, remembering Shabbat, or even loving one’s neighbor as one’s self.

Freedom is the reset button of society. It is no coincidence that we are commanded to proclaim...

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