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Rabbi Joel N. Abraham

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Side view of the Washington Monument at twilight

When I was in high school, a bully with a locker just down from mine threw a penny at me and called me a dirty name for a Jew. Before I could react, my history teacher put that student up against the wall and sent me inside the classroom so he could continue his conversation with that student.

I am not marching because I have been the victim of (mild) anti-Semitism, but because, like my teacher, evidence of the world not being just infuriates me. My tradition teaches me that violence is not the first reaction – but that standing up and pursuing justice is the reason for our...

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When I was in high school, a bully with a locker just down from mine threw a penny at me and called me a dirty name for a Jew.  Before I could react, my history teacher put that student up against the wall and sent me inside the classroom so he could continue his conversation with that student.

I am not marching because I have been the victim of (mild) anti-Semitism, but because, like my teacher, evidence of the world not being just infuriates me.  My tradition teaches me that violence is not the first reaction – but that standing up and pursuing justice is the reason for our...

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Teens & Racial Justice

When we received the opportunity of a Better Together* grant, designed to bring Jewish high school students and senior citizens together at Temple Sholom of Scotch Plains, NJ, we decided to address a request from our post-Confirmation students to engage in issues that challenge them in the real world.

We set out to build meaningful learning about civil rights by inviting seniors...

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One of the more famous rabbinic arguments in the Talmud is about the kosher status of a particular oven, called the oven of Akhnai. All the rabbis of the Sanhedrin, except for one, agreed the halachah (Jewish law) went a certain way. The exception, Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus, disagreed, holding out against the majority.

To prove his point, he performed several miracles, the pinnacle of which was when a voice from heaven called out that he was right. Rabbi Joshua, representing the rest of the rabbis, quoted the Torah in parashat Nitzavim saying, “Lo bashamayim hi – it is not in the...

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