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Audrey Merwin

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Female hands dressed in orange holding onto prison bars

Recuperating from a broken ankle this summer, I had time to catch up on my binge streaming. One of my current favorites is the popular Netflix series Orange Is the New Black, which began streaming its seventh and final season on July 26.

The series is based on a book of the same name by Piper Kerman, a white woman who, in her early thirties, pleaded guilty to money laundering and was sentenced to 15 months in a minimum-security federal prison in Connecticut. Through Kerman’s eyes, the book gives us a first-person look at prison life for women in the United States. The show takes us...

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Silver sword encrusted with jewels stuck into the side of a grassy hill

With the arrival of the much-anticipated final season of the acclaimed television series Game of Thrones, people are tuning in on a weekly basis with as much zeal as we do to our Torah. Just as our Hebrew Bible offers new surprises with every reading, Game of Thrones reveals new plot twists and revelations with each weekly episode. I wrote about some of these similarities when season seven of Game of Thrones was released; now, as we near the end of the episodes of Westeros, here are a few more commonalities to consider.

1. Relative Cohabitation

In the Book of Genesis, Abraham...

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Hand reaching toward Michelle Obamas book Becoming

These days, when just about everyone in the political arena writes a book as a prelude to a run for office, I find it refreshing that former First Lady Michelle Obama would create an account of her experiences simply for her readers’ enlightenment. Becoming, the highly popular autobiography of an equally popular public figure, is truly an engaging read, revealing the honest, down-to-earth character of the woman who became the United States’ first black First Lady. Mrs. Obama uses the book to reflect on the life lessons she’s learned along the way toward her tenure in holding that role....

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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, ReformJudaism.org 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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