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Audrey Merwin


Unfurled Torah lying on a blue fabric with a light red fireworks pattern

The shofar sounds the start of the new year, and soon after, Simchat Torah (Rejoicing with Torah) signals our reading the Torah scroll from the very beginning of the Book of Genesis.

The timing is no accident. Just as we’ve examined our behavior and recommitted to becoming the best versions of ourselves in the new year, so, too, have many of us resolved to engage more deeply in study this year.

But we don’t have to do it in a vacuum.

Each Monday, shares the gift of the guidance of eminent modern-day scholars and leading Jewish thinkers. Reform...

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Cropped photo of smiling white man in a cream polo shirt with fingers crossed on both hands as if for good luck

In an uncanny turn of events, we find two notable happenings on the same day: The beginning of the month of Elul, the official start of the ramp-up to the High Holidays, overlaps with the casting of what may become the second-largest jackpot in the second-largest jackpot in Powerball lottery history

Aside from a date, what can these two events possibly have in common? Strange as it may seem, there are a few points of comparison.

1. You’ve got to be in it to win it.

That’s the catchphrase often associated with a lottery drawing: You need to put your money down for a chance...

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In a still from Game of Thrones Ser Jaime Lannister played by actor Nikolaj Coster Waldau holds up a silver goblet as in a toast

Ever since its sixth season ended a little over a year ago, viewers have been sitting at the edge of our couches, remotes in hand, poised to tune into the next season of the astoundingly popular Game of Thrones. Now that season seven is underway, fans like me and the nearly 23 million Americans who reportedly consumed the hit series last year can do just that.

Similarly, each Shabbat, I anxiously await hearing and reading the next episode of another hit series – the Bible – which, according to the Guinness Book of World Records is the bestselling book of all time, with 5 billion...

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Thanks to the Central Conference of American Rabbis, an English translation of each week’s Torah portion is now available on

Featuring a gender-sensitive version of the Jewish Publication Society (JPS) translation, with largely gender-neutral God language and a completely fresh translation of Genesis, this text will prove exceedingly useful not only for clergy and synagogue professionals, but also for anyone interested in Jewish learning.

Here are five ways to use this important resource:

Those who are “regulars” at Torah study can read the weekly... Read More

If you love jazz and Jewish culture, as I do, it seems only natural to seek out connections between the two. That’s exactly what a select group of jazz lovers in New Jersey did this past fall and winter, bringing to the fore the exceptional exhibit, Jazz, Jews and African Americans: Cultural Intersections in Newark and Beyond. The show was a collaboration of the Institute of Jazz Studies (Rutgers University-Newark), New Jersey Performing Arts Center, WBGO, the Jewish Museum of New Jersey, New Jersey City University, and Congregation Ahavas Sholom, an historic synagogue in Newark that...

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