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Rabbi John L. Rosove

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Israeli checkpoint between Israel and the West Bank

In the forthcoming book, Deepening the Dialogue: Israelis and American Jews Envision the Jewish-Democratic State (New York: CCAR Press, 2019), Rabbi Jill Jacobs and Rabbi Levi Kelman address the aspirational ethical treatment of all the inhabitants of the land of Israel as articulated in Israel’s Declaration of Independence.

The core paragraph of concern in each of their articles declares “THE STATE OF ISRAEL …will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it...

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Interior of the Knesset, Israel's parliament

In the forthcoming book, Deepening the Dialogue: Israelis and American Jews Envision the Jewish-Democratic State (New York: CCAR Press, 2019), Rabbi Eric Yoffie and Dr. Ruth Gavison parsed brilliantly what lies at the heart of M’gillat HaAtzmaut’s (Israel’s Declaration of Independence - DOI) aspirations, vision, and principles. As they suggest, the Declaration of Independence is the Jewish people’s and State of Israel’s aspirational mission statement.

Israel’s Declaration of Independence is among the world’s great visionary statements of a nation’s essence and purpose. It compares...

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A mid-air figure in shadow with orange/yellow sunset, clouds, and water in the background

The central theme of the High Holiday season is t’shuvah (return, turn, response), a process that brings us back to our truest ourselves, our families, friends, community, the Jewish people, Torah, and God. T’shuvah is ultimately an expression of hope that the way we are today need not be who we remain tomorrow.

T’shuvah is a step-by-step process of re-engaging with our highest selves, of turning away from negative and destructive tendencies (i.e. yetzer hara – the evil inclination) and embracing that which is good in our nature (yetzer hatov – the good inclination), such as living...

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The word PAST written on a chalkboard and half erased by a red eraser

Forgiving those who have wronged us is one of the most difficult things we ever do. It is also one of the most healing.

The choice is ours.

Especially as the High Holidays approach and we begin to account for our past actions and behaviors in an effort to improve ourselves in the coming year, we can choose to hold on to our injuries, or we can begin the work of forgiving – not for the sake of the other, but for our own sake. As the theologian Lewis Smedes writes, “When we forgive, we come as close as any human being can to the essentially divine act of creation. For we...

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Sunshine in clouds

Many Jews say to me with reticence or a mildly defiant tone, “Rabbi, I don’t believe in God.” I sometimes think that on some level, they expect me to cast them out when I hear their confession.

One says, “I’m a religious person in that I feel a connection to something eternal and infinite that’s in my soul and in yours. But I don’t believe in a personal God, and all this talk about God as king and me as servant is meaningless to me.”

Another says, “I’m grateful for the gifts of health, meaningful work, and love. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by gratitude and a sense of...

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