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Aron Hirt-Manheimer

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A black and white photo of the late Al Vorspan with a pipe in his mouth looking off into the distance

Al Vorspan, z"l, a giant for social justice, died on February 17 at the age of 95.

When Al helped organize the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in the nation’s capital, he could not have imagined that some 70 years later, he’d be viewed by many as a giant of social justice – even as a modern Hebrew prophet.

What did Al have in common with Amos or Micah or Isaiah? Like them, Al was not afraid to speak truth to power. Though he never claimed to be God’s spokesperson, Al felt commanded by the Torah’s ethical values and a love of humanity.

In 1964, Al was...

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Fiddler on the Roof Yiddish

You don’t have to know mamalushen (the mother tongue) to enjoy the hit musical Fidler Afn Dakh in Yiddish. English subtitles are supplied, but getting the tam (flavor) of few key words and colorful expressions will enhance your theatrical experience – and enrich your Jewish vocabulary.

Our guide to Anatevke, a little shtetl (town) on the eve of the Russian revolution (erev der revolutsye), is Tevye der milkhiker (the milkman). He is an oreman  (poor man), who complains to Got (God), also known as Reboyne-shel-oylem (Master of the Universe), about all the tsores (troubles) that...

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Disembodied arm with fist held high in the air

Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month is an opportunity every February for a national conversation about disability, including the different ways people with disabilities – nearly one in four Americans – identify today. Rabbi Edythe Held Mencher, LCSW, director of Union for Reform Judaism’s Presidential Initiative for Disabilities Inclusion, helps us understand why the language of disability is such a powerful determinant of social attitudes, from prejudice to pride.

ReformJudaism.org: What are some of the assumptions we make about those of us with...

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A scene from the jazz opera, Dear Erich

Dear Erich: A Jazz Opera, co-produced by the New York City Opera and National Yiddish Theatre Folkbiene, premiered in January 2019 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan to standing ovations. The music is by Ted Rosenthal, the world-renowned jazz pianist and composer; he and Lesley Rosenthal wrote the libretto.

Ted Rosenthal conceived Dear Erich after learning the contents of 200 letters, written mostly by his grandmother, Herta, trapped in Nazi Germany, to his father, safe in America.

“They opened a world for me,” recalls Ted, “with vivid depictions in a personable...

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Young woman carrying a Torah scroll through the congregation at camp

ReformJudaism.org recently sat down with Rabbi Sonja K. Pilz, Ph.D., editor of the CCAR Press, to talk about a new adult education cirriculum. Here's what she had to say.

ReformJudaism.org: Why did the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) decide that now was the time to launch a new adult education curriculum?

Rabbi Sonja K. Pilz, Ph.D., editor of the CCAR Press: On one level, we saw it as a fitting way to celebrate the 130th anniversary of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the 200th birthday of our founder, Isaac M. Wise. We also recognized that the...

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