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Chelsea Feuchs

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Campers and staff in a friendship circle as seen from outside the circle

I do not think back on my high school years very often. Like most teenagers, I was plagued by the mood swings and omnipresent blemishes that define those hormonal years. Social groups were constantly shifting, defining in sudden and unsubtle ways who was in and who was out. I worried too much about how I was perceived by others, often viewing the world through this self-conscious lens.

Added to all this insecurity was a paralyzing fear that other students would discover my secret: I came from an LGBTQ home. My mom came out as a lesbian when I was 12 years old, but it took a few...

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Kotel (Western Wall) at night seen from a distance

The walls surrounding Jerusalem’s Old City are lit up at night, a stunning view for locals and tourists alike. As couples sit on park benches overlooking the scene, some close for warmth and others more distant for modesty’s sake, it is easy to forget the arguments that surround this place. Past the external walls and down some winding streets sits another wall, one far more controversial.

The Western Wall, also called the Kotel, stands as one of the last remaining pieces of The Second Temple, the ancient center of Jewish ritual and communal life. Those stones have seen more...

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Hand using a wooden spoon to stir a pot of soup

With the High Holidays approaching, Jewish websites and blogs are filled with festive recipes: pomegranate glazed chicken, sweet apple kugel, sticky honey cake. I salivate over the beautiful pictures while mentally preparing a shopping list that I already know I will edit a dozen times over. It is tempting for many of my colleagues and study partners to treat these recipes as fluff pieces, “clickbait” that crowds out more serious Torah learning and cheapens the central ikar, or meaning, of the holidays. Though perhaps unintended, this view undermines the experience of those of us new to...

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Colored pencils placed in a way such that their tips create negative space in the shape of a heart

As I skimmed headlines on the Israel new sites I check daily, I saw many of the same topics that have filled this space for the past few weeks. I ran through the list in my head: Kotel? Check. Conversion bill? Check. Blacklist of Diaspora rabbis? Check.

Opposition to gay adoption?! My stomach dropped.

I am immediately pulled back to the summer of 2015, tears streaming down my face as news returns of the Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage in the US. I think of close friends in same-sex relationships posting pictures of the day they brought new bundles of joy back...

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Group of dozens of rabbis and other Reform Jews holding Torah scrolls at the Western Wall while wearing prayer shawls

My Facebook feed has been inundated in recent weeks with articles, videos, and angry rants addressing the obstacles to religious freedom in Israel. Friends across denominations are voicing strong opposition to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s capitulation to the demands of an illiberal minority. From the Kotel crisis to the conversion bill to the blacklist of certain Diaspora rabbis, our blood pressure is rising. After long negotiations with the ruling coalition, its calculating and cowardly head decided to trade away our rights to save his hide. 

Let’s examine for a moment,...

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