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Rabbi Paul Kipnes


Silhouette of a woman standing alone on a desert sand dune against a sunset

I felt a sense of déjà vu as we began to cancel plans and hunker down; the coronavirus-compelled communal self-quarantine felt vaguely familiar.

We’ve gotten through it before, and we will now, too. Here’s how.

We are a community in transition.

Travel plans canceled, classes suspended, in-person gatherings postponed… Our worship have reverted back to klei kodesh (clergy-led version), without communal singing; our Mishkan T’filah (Tent of Worship and Meeting) is shuttered for all but the smallest gatherings.

The understandable fear of infection and the...

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Group photo of Rabbi Paul Kipnes speaking to a group of teenagers in front of the Its a Small World ride at Disneyland

Where do I find a minyan (the quorum of 10 Jews required for public prayer) in Disneyland when I need to say Mourner's Kaddish for my father? Outside It’s a Small World, after all! There, my students ensured I had a community for Kaddish.

My wife Michelle and I were chaperoning Congregation Or Ami’s seventh graders on a post-Shul-In trip to Disneyland to celebrate the beginning of the school year and the start of our new teen program. Although I knew it would be challenging to find a minyan for Kaddish, I wanted to be with our pre-teens. I hoped, as the saying goes, that somehow...

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Glittery hat and new years banner amidst confetti

Many people will spend the week writing “New Year's resolutions,” declarations of what they plan to do and who they plan to be in the coming year. Within weeks, diets will begin and new gym memberships purchased. Within less than two months, both and more will be abandoned. Our resolutions will again be thrown upon the pile of discarded and broken promises made in previous years. So caught up in the ritual of deciding what we could be doing, we fail to do it.

Why? As John Tierney writes "Carpe Diem? Maybe Tomorrow" in the New York Times:

“People can become overly focused...

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Rabbi Paul Kipnes speaks at the Rabbinic Moral Leadership Gathering

Rabbi Paul Kipnes wrote this reflection after attending the inaugural Rabbinic Moral Leadership Gathering. This post originally appeared on

These two months have been hellacious as Congregation Or Ami faced a nearby mass shooting and an even closer raging fire - all within a 24 hour period.  

The mass shooting at Borderline Bar in Thousand Oaks, CA, not 12 miles away, shook us up. One member, the son of a rabbinic colleague, fled the shooting, and though he is blessedly alive, too many of his friends are not, and too many more are traumatized still.


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Closeup of a mans hand checking boxes as if filling out a ballot

Vote Because it’s a mitzvah to do Vote Because you’re an American Jew Vote Because it’s your civic duty Vote To bring the world more values, more beauty Vote Because you’ll be guiding the nation Vote Because not voting is an abdication Vote Because more important than your chatter Vote You’re representing values that really matter Vote For our Jewish values that encompass Vote Torah’s call for chesed (kindness), rachamim (compassion) and tzedek (justice) Vote Do not be numb Vote Because it’s part of tikkun olam Vote (Especially if you’re a thirty- or twenty-something) Vote (Because yes,...

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