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Rabbi Paul Kipnes

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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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Three stained glass windows bearing Stars of David against an all black background

I invited a former synagogue member – a wonderful and very pleasant person – to rejoin the synagogue after a few years away. She said she had thought about it and wondered, “How would being a member make my life better or different?”

I thought about her question a lot, and even as a congregational rabbi, I admit that I struggled. Eventually, my answer was along these lines: It depends on what you mean by “better.”

If you mean physically healthier, it won’t. Join a gym.

If you mean more physically beautiful, it won’t. Go to Nordstrom’s or a make-up artist.

If...

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Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

Pray for the children The ones who were taken away And pray for the leaders Whose moral compasses have gone astray 

Pray for the kids Who wallow in their cages And pray for the guards Whose work sullies their wages  

Pray for the dads Who are now childless and under arrest And pray for the moms Whose kids were ripped right from their breasts

Pray for the parents Away from their children day and night And pray for our government Which desperately needs to see the light 

Pray for the religious Whose values others...

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Hand in front of a chalkboard seemingly holding a floating outline of a brain

Goleil or mipnei choshech v’choshech mipnei or.

Rolling light into darkness and darkness rolling into light.

With these words, the evening Ma’ariv Aravim prayer draws attention to the cycle of day and night, thanking God for the unending seasons. Ma’ariv Aravim also assures us that even when darkness shields our ability to see, we will eventually return to a light which will shine a way forward.

This insight guided us as a busload of seventh to twelfth graders, from all over Greater Los Angeles, for a mental health and wellness teen retreat. The retreat is the...

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Open pocketwatch with clock face visible in front of blurred and colorful confetti

The secular New Year is upon us. What will you make of the year to come?

Playwright Hillary DePiano wrote, “We all get the exact same 365 days. The only difference is what we do with them.”

Will they be days of promise and tikvah (hope) for you? Will you write bracha (blessing) and chesed (kindness) into the story of your life?

Perhaps the only thing standing in your way is… you. As former Israeli President Shimon Peres once said, “There are no hopeless situations, only hopeless people.”

You can become the dream you hold within your heart.

Lessons from... Read More

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