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Dr. Madelyn Mishkin Katz

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Small flat gift wrapped in light pink paper and decorated with a homemade bow and handmade card; pink and white ribbons and small cut-out hearts are in the background

February 13, 2017 – a day I’ll never forget. The day my life changed forever. I was completely taken by surprise as I became a member of a club in which I had no interest. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I heard words like “invasive,” “aggressive,” and “chemo.” I will never forget those moments.

I went through a year long treatment – chemo, surgery, and radiation. While the cancer was killed early on, I had a full year of treatment because of its aggressive nature, lest “one of those little suckers got away from us.” The treatment was brutal and for the first time in my life, I...

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Silvery eye mask with black ties, seemingly discarded

I must be honest. Purim is not my favorite holiday. Truth is, I was never a big costume person. Probably a therapist’s delight!

Nonetheless, I was a “good” mom and put aside my own mishagas (craziness) and helped my daughters with Purim costumes and parades so that we made it through enough years dressing up as characters from the story. However, it wasn't too long before they both expressed a similar “love” for costumes and parades and so Purim became a minor holiday in our house.

However – and it is a big “however” – even without the costumes and parades, my daughters...

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The truth is Simchat Torah is not my favorite holiday.

There. I said it.

It isn’t for lack of love of Torah that I say this. Rather it’s because I’m not a dance-around-with-a-scroll-in-your arms type of person and, for most of my life, that’s what Simchat Torah was all about.

I am, however, someone who completely rejoices in Torah.

No matter how many times I read the same Torah portion, I marvel at the new things I hear and learn. During the past 35 years – as a synagogue educator, a day school director, and the associate dean at Hebrew Union College-Jewish...

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I love collecting hanukkiyot (menorahs). None is terribly expensive, but each one of the nearly 200 in my collection is unique. They were purchased in Judaica shops, on eBay auctions, and in the Judaica sections of the oddest stores, including Rite-Aid, CVS, and my local grocery store. They have different themes—animals, sports, musical instruments (I even have a Fender Stratocaster guitar menorah!), cars, and more—and are made from wire, paper, yarn, wood, mah jong tiles, pumpkins, and more. The more unique, the better.

Why hanukkiyot?

It's all about the light they bring...

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Jewish Disability Awareness Month is a powerful reminder that we are all created b'tzelem Elohim (in God's Image). We must keep all disabilities in mind, especially those that are "silent." Mental health disease is very prevalent in the Jewish community, yet we often overlook it because the pain of living with it is not necessarily obvious. Those who live with mental health diseases suffer in silence.

Twenty years ago I was diagnosed with clinical depression. Through extremely effective medication, a supportive psychiatrist and a commitment to understand my depression, I have...

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