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Rabbi Alex Kress

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Closeup of a hand strumming a guitar

Bonfires have a gravitational pull about them.

It's not solely that radiant orange warmth on a cool mountain evening or light after the sky surrenders to twilight. It's not even their talent for roasting undeniably delicious marshmallows. I think their magic lies in the dance of the flames, those blues, oranges, and whites burning bright while peacefully submitting to the will of the breeze.

Last summer, I found myself at a moment of peaceful submission, surrounded by community and warmed by fire – when I first heard the song. Jared Stein, an extraordinary musician, sang...

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Blacklight image progression of a hand getting cleaner the longer it is washed with soap

Actress Kristen Bell posted this image on her Instagram the other day with the caption: "My mom sent me the handwashing blacklight comparison. 30 SECONDS WITH SOAP YALL!!!"

Aside from Bell’s mother's very relatable, low-key guilt trip in pursuit of clean hands, this image is a reminder that I haven't been adequately washing my hands for many years.

With coronavirus (COVID-19) containment in full swing, handwashing has been front and center of preventative efforts, including the many songs you can sing (and even this prayer you can say) to make sure you're scrubbing for...

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Red cassette tape lightly unspooling

Long before I became a rabbi, I was a DJ and a hip-hop-head. Music always scored my life, and for years I've wondered, "How can the music that soundtracks my life be harnessed for religious practice?”

This summer, as I prepared for Rosh HaShanah, I began dreaming about an alternative High Holiday experience – a musical journey that would tap into ancient liturgical themes and refract them through the lens of hip-hop. Kind of like Rosh HaShanah: The Remix.

As I prepared to lead services, I realized that the perfect liturgical analog for this new experience was the shofar (...

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