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Rabbi David Wirtschafter

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Back of a womans head as she gazes at the Washington Monument

God Who Blessed our Mothers: Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel and our Fathers: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; God who delivered our ancestors during difficult times, guided them on perilous journeys, comforted them in times of sorrow, provided for them in times of famine and encouraged them in times of crisis.

We ask Your blessing now on women and men, parents and grandparents, children, and grandchildren as they prepare for tomorrow’s March for Women’s Rights in Washington.

If confronted with madness and misogyny may they maintain focus on the meaning of this moment and the...

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Holding Matches and candle fire on black background

This Friday evening begins with a candle-lighting for both Hanukkah and Shabbat. (Remember: Tonight we kindle the Hanukkah lights first and then the Shabbat candles, using the Hanukkah blessings and then the blessing over the Shabbat candles.) As the evening begins, let us consider the customs and meaning of both holidays with this special prayer.

A Prayer for the Sabbath of Hanukkah

Hanukkah lasts for eight nights but is celebrated only once a year.

Shabbat is celebrated each week of the year but lasts only for one day.

Hanukkah reminds us that there are things...

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Aerial shop of Aleppo

The afternoon Haftorah reading for Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year, takes place in Syria of all places. The Assyrian empire included what we now know as modern day Iran, Iraq, and Syria, of all places. It is none other than Nineveh that God threatens to destroy, and Jonah, the strangest of all prophets, is devastated when it doesn’t happen. In the biblical narrative, the people of the great Assyrian city cry out to God for mercy, and, in mercy, they are spared.

Where is mercy to be found for the people of Aleppo today? Who will save the Syrian people from the Syrian...

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Female hands holding red ribbon for AIDS awareness

In commemoration of World AIDS Day, I ask you to please read the final lines from American playwright Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, which you’ll find below.

For the sake of context, it’s important to remember that at the time of the play’s publication and performance, in the early 1990s, AZT and other HIV drugs were just beginning to turn the disease from a death sentence to a condition people could live with. In this closing monologue, the main character, just starting to regain strength, bravely vows to end the shame and silence surrounding the epidemic. Standing at the...

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Scrabble tiles spelling out the word THANKS

Thanksgiving is not merely a day of feasting but a duty of faith.

Yesterday we gathered for a bountiful Thanksgiving Dinner.

Tonight, we gather to give thanks for the blessings of Shabbat.

Saying “thank you” requires just a few words.

Demonstrating thanks requires ongoing action.

Preaching the importance of gratitude is easy.

Practicing the value of gratitude is hard.

If we say we are blessed to have food, then we must share our bread with the hungry.

If we say we are thankful for shelter, then we must work to house...

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