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Rabbi Daniel M. Bronstein, Ph.D.


USS Arizona Memorial

Among the scores and long-held slanders perpetuated against Diaspora Jewry has been the smear that Jews were disloyal to their host countries. Accused of being traitors from the time of Pharaoh to the “Dreyfus Affair” and into the present, Diaspora Jews also have been accused of war profiting. Such anti-Semitic bubbe meises (fables) served many functions, including perpetuating unflattering stereotypes of Jewish inferiority.

In other instances, disparagement of Jewish men as physically and psychologically unfit for military service served to bar newly-emancipated Jews of 19th...

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Israeli flag flying against blue sky

Explaining why the opening word of the fourth commandment was differently stated – in Exodus as “remember” and in Deuteronomy as “observe” – the sages taught that both words “were spoken in one utterance, something that is beyond the human mouth to articulate or the human ear to absorb.” Recounting and reviewing modern history, equipped with documentation and enriched by those who still are here to tell the story, is hardly as complex as parsing the mysteries of the Torah. But sometimes, perhaps especially in the era of “fake news” and “alternative facts,” recounting history can be just as...

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Chaplain lighting Hanukkah candles for Jewish troops in Korea

Some readers may recall the classic Monty Python comedy, “The Life of Brian,” portraying the land of Israel under Roman occupation 2,000 years ago, and featuring conflicts between groups with monikers like the “Judean People’s Front,” the “Front for the People of Judea,” and others. Couple that with the timeworn joke about the Jew stranded on a desert island who, when finally rescued, is asked why, as the island’s solo inhabitant, he built for himself two synagogues. Gesturing to one of the synagogues, the castaway explains: “That’s the one I don’t go to.”

Some jokes may not age...

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Group of students and a teacher standing in front of a sign: Help Save Soviet Jews

When Jews first arrived in western Russia in the 7th century, the Russian Empire became, for a time, home to the world’s largest Jewish population. Through pogroms, mass emigration, revolution, and the deconstruction of the Soviet Union, North American Reform Jewish leadership has endeavored to balance its commitment to the welfare of Russian Jews against its ideals around geopolitical realities.

“Miracle” and “redemption” are not terms used casually by modern rabbis. But when the Soviet Union dissolved 25 years ago, even the most rationalistic Reform rabbis marveled at the...

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Young girls in the Shanghai Ghetto

“Yesterday, December 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy.”

President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s words delivered to a joint session of Congress quickly resulted in a declaration of war against the Empire of Japan and America’s formal entry into World War II. In just a few days, we will observe the 75th anniversary, or maybe we should say “yartzeit,” of the attack on Pearl Harbor. This horrific assault – just one of several Japanese surprise attacks undertaken in December of 1941– led to thousands of deaths, injuries, and the unparalleled destruction of property and naval...

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