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Rabbi Paul Kipnes


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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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.


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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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