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Rabbi A. James Rudin

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A still photo from the documentary depicting synagogue pews with yellow police tape across them and a stained window in the back

Hatred of Jews and Judaism is the world’s oldest social pathology, and Andrew Goldberg’s PBS-TV documentary Viral: Anti-Semitism in Four Mutations (airing in the U.S. on May 26) presents important new insights into this omnipresent odium.

For Goldberg, whose parents were members of Chicago’s Emanuel Congregation, this will be his fourteenth documentary, and as he told me, this one is intensely personal.  During the three years required to complete the 90-minute program, acts of virulent, often-murderous antisemitism sharply increased in the United States and Europe.

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Chicago skyline

When the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) convenes its 2019 Biennial this December in Chicago, it will shine the spotlight on a city with a rich Jewish heritage.  

The city’s first congregation, Kehilath Anshe Mayriv (KAM, and known today as KAM Isaiah Israel) established in 1847, was a founding member of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (now the URJ), and four of its rabbis have served as president of the Reform Movement’s rabbinical arm, the Central Conference of American Rabbis.

By 1930, the Chicago’s Jewish population of 275,000 was surpassed in number only by...

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Black and white photo of the German army marching to invade Poland

Eighty years ago, on September 1, 1939, Adolf Hitler, the Nazi German “Fuhrer,” began World War II by invading Poland. He hurled 1.5 million troops, 2,000 tanks, and 1,900 warplanes against his neighbor on the east. The outnumbered and outgunned Polish army was no match for the Nazi assault.

The Polish capital, Warsaw, fell on September 17, and 11 days later, Soviet troops linked up with Hitler’s military juggernaut and divided Poland as part of the Berlin-Moscow non-aggression treaty signed a month earlier.

It was a bitter defeat, but for Poland’s 3.5 million Jews, 10...

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Shadow of sepia-tone WWI soldier against a background of a map of Europe

November 11 marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. Leaders on both sides invoked God and religion as they sent more than 5.5 million soldiers to die on battlefields across continents. 

Kaiser Wilhelm’s troops were outfitted with belt buckles inscribed with the words: “Gott mit uns” (God is with us).

The sheikh-ul Islam of the Ottoman Empire urged Muslims everywhere to  “go to the Jihad for the sake of happiness and salvation … in accordance with God’s beautiful promise [that] those who sacrifice their lives to give life to the truth will have honor in this...

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