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Rabbi David Wirtschafter

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Closeup of the 2020 tassel on a black graduation cap

During the course of the past few weeks, it has become increasingly clear the class of 2020 has been cheated out of the celebration it deserves.

From the prom night rituals of dresses and tuxedoes to the graduation rites of caps and gowns and marching down the aisle to “pomp and circumstance” this year’s crop of high school, college, and graduate students have been robbed of the robes that are rightfully theirs. In some families, both a high school and college senior are losing out on graduation ceremonies via some form of postponement or another.

In the long run, these...

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A dove holding an olive branch written in chalk against black pavement

Creator of all humankind, at this fearful moment we beseech You to bless Israeli and Palestinian leaders alike with wisdom, caution, compassion, and restraint.

As tensions run high and pressures increase, we implore You to help those throughout the region to choose reason over retaliation, reconciliation over revenge.

Neither rockets nor airstrikes can alleviate the resentment and mistrust that has one again brought on a new iteration of the same conflict.

Cain’s failure to resist the inclination to wrath, the temptation to lash out at Abel, resulted in their...

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Aerial view of an empty chair at a wooden table

When we gather on April 19 and 20 to mark the first two nights of Passover, we will pray. And we will ask aloud: What makes this year’s seders different from all others?

These two nights will mark the first seders since two African-American individuals were killed at a grocery store parking lot simply because of their race; their murderer wanted to shoot up a church.

What makes these seders different from last year’s?

These two seders will be the first since 11 people were killed in a Pittsburgh synagogue simply because they were Jewish.

What makes this year...

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A man in a kippah walks by a wall of photos of people who disappeared during Guatemalas internal armed conflict

During an intense week in January, I traveled around Guatemala, learning about good people in a dire situation. I met human rights workers, whose efforts are criminalized; midwives, whose skills go unrecognized; women’s rights activists, whose protests are marginalized; journalists, whose reporting is trivialized; and survivors of forced eviction, whose very right to exist has been jeopardized.

I traveled as part of a group of 15 U.S. rabbis who are spending a year learning about poverty, human rights, and justice as we study these issues through the perspective of Jewish values...

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Two female students holding gun violence prevention signs at a march

There are lists on which teenagers belong and others on which they don’t. Teenagers dream of making the team list, cast list, recruiting list, and admissions list. If there’s one place teenagers don’t belong, though, it’s on the Mourner's Kaddish list – yet tonight marks the Sabbath before the yahrzeit for 14 youths and three adults shot to death at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, on February 14, 2018.

Among life’s painful lessons is that of accepting death. Sickness, old age, accidents, natural disasters: We can live we these deaths. We learn to accept them...

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