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Rabbi Michael L. Feshbach

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Hand holding a test tube containing a DNA sample

Once again, in a cemetery, I thought about Jewish children. It was our annual Kever Avot (Gravesite of the Ancestors) memorial service, held at both of our community’s historic cemeteries, on the Sunday in between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. In some ways, there is nothing like a scheduled, non-funeral visit to old graves to get you thinking about Jewish journeys – where we have come from and, perhaps, where we are going.

Sadly, there were few people visiting graves at the older site, the Savan Cemetery, closed at near capacity in the 1830s, and badly in need of restoration. Still...

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Two hands, painted like a globe, forming a heart

I developed a new habit after moving to the Virgin Islands last summer. After two Category 5 hurricanes, it is one I am sure will stay with me forever: playing prophet. It starts the moment a blip appears in the ocean – whether a continent or a hemisphere away. Seeing a dot appear off the coast of Africa, I, and those who have lived here much longer, automatically track it, constantly speculating on its path.

At its core, this enterprise is no different than the one I play when reading the daily newspaper. Which story, I wonder, will we remember a decade from now? Which screaming...

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Lit Hanukkah menorah on second night of Hanukkah w/unfocused reflections of light in the background

As we returned the sifrei Torah, the Torah scrolls, to their places after the honor of carrying them through the assembled congregation of 6,000 Reform Jews this past Shabbat morning, one of the other participants gave voice to something that I had already been feeling: “Now that’s an honor I never want to earn again,” she said.

I was astonishingly touched to be asked. The Torah bearers at the Shabbat morning service of the Union for Reform Judaism Biennial convention were from the Virgin Islands, Houston, and Northern California. We were chosen so we could feel the symbolic...

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Lit votive candles placed in the shape of a heart

Can this really be happening?  We must be imagining it.

But the dreams of leaders past have changed into the nightmares we see today. A spirit alien to our highest values has taken over… our televisions, our devices, our civic life.

A message and a plea, to live up to what we should be, at a time of trial and terror.

So often in our lives the issues are cloudy and complex. Disagreements can be deep and honest at the same time. So often, yes, there are “many sides.”

But not always. Sometimes the call of the day is clear. That we should be judged not by the...

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Every Hanukkah, we thank God for the miracle of the season. But what was the miracle? Simply this: The Maccabees and their legacy survived.

This is a miracle, you ask? The parting of the Red Sea – now that was a miracle! The manna from heaven? That was a miracle, too. Granted, Jewish survival is a great accomplishment, given our history of persecution. But why single out this one event and celebrate it for eight days every year?

We celebrate because our ancestors not only won a great military victory, they came up with the quintessential Jewish survival strategy. Of the...

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