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Rabbi Leah Doberne-Schor


Side view of the Statue of Liberty during an orange sunset

More than 100 years ago, Abraham Bezbrosh, my great-grandfather of blessed memory, fled from his home in Russia. He was part of a wave of immigrants that came to the United States of America, in part for economic opportunity, in part to flee persecution. At that time, Jews in Russia endured violent, hateful, state-sanctioned pogroms (terror attacks), and my great-grandfather also fled from a lifetime draft in the czar’s army – part of an unjust targeted recruitment of Jewish boys and young men. 

I do not know if his ship passed under the Statue of Liberty or if he ever read the...

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What do we read when there are no good words? As I thought about the text to teach following the tragedy at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, my mind fixed on the nine murdered. Murdered in their church, a holy sanctuary of God. Murdered because of who they were – because of the color of their skin.

I turned not to the five scrolls of Torah, but to the book of Lamentations, called in Hebrew simply Eicha. Alas! Lament!

It is a text full of sorrow and outrage and pain. While the text itself was written in response to the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem in 586...

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It is rare that I write the words I plan to speak during Shabbat worship at my congregation. In any case, even if I knew the words in advance, I would typically wait to post my remarks until after the Sabbath was over. However, this week feels different: I wanted to share this meditation before Friday night, that others might use it, if they so wish, when they light the candles for Shabbat.

After lighting the Sabbath candles, many people wave their hands in a circular motion three times and bring their hands to their face when finished. A beautiful interpretation of this practice...

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When I was an assistant rabbi at Temple Emanu-El in Westfield, N.J., I celebrated with the early childhood program at their weekly Shabbat party. A few parents would join their children for the festivities, and they were invited to stay behind for a few moments with the rabbi.

The parents and students gathered with me in the front of the chapel, by the Aron Kodesh, the ark that houses the Torah scrolls. Then came my favorite part of the morning: when I instructed the parents to hold their children close, maybe even place a hand on their children’s head or shoulders. I explained...

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