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Rabbi Reuven Greenvald

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Ahad Ha'am's grave in Tel Aviv

At the end of my most recent trip to Israel in December, I added on a few days for personal time and exploration in Tel Aviv. The weather was unseasonably warm, even for this Mediterranean city, so I explored by taking long walks. With time on my hands, I walked down side streets and let them lead me to unexpected places. During these walks, I stumbled upon sites I had forgotten about and discovered new pieces of Tel Aviv history, as well as reminders, from architectural and other clues, of the city’s ethnic and historical distinctions, that once were more pronounced.    

On one...

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Two men and two women praying at an egalitarian section of the Kotel (Western Wall) in Jerusalem

Bright and early on Thursday morning, November 16, I pushed through my jet-lag from the flight to Israel the prior day to be at the egalitarian prayer space adjacent to, but hidden from, what is publicly recognized as the Kotel – the Western Wall. That morning, I joined about 100 members of the Israel and North American Reform community – lay leaders, rabbis, and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) students – as we began a day-long celebration of the ordination of the 100th Israeli to finish the rabbinical program at HUC-JIR’s Jerusalem campus. 

As is well-...

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Reform Movement teen leaders with Rabbi Reuven Greenvald, the author of the blog post, at the Schusterman Advocacy Institute High School Summit

Last week, AIPAC held its annual Schusterman Advocacy Institute High School Summit. I accompanied a delegation of inspiring Reform Movement teen leaders who represent the Movement’s regional and national boards to Washington, D.C. for the event.

AIPAC’s leadership development team does an excellent job teaching students about the bipartisan issues that the largest pro-Israel American lobby sees as keeping “Israel’s security as an American priority.”  Like their peers – more than 500 students from other Jewish youth movements, day schools, and other community delegations – the...

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Framed artwork that includes Arabic writing on a background of blue, black, and green

For the past six years, during the month of Elul, which precedes Rosh HaShanah, I think about taking on a challenge or setting a goal in the upcoming new year.  I ask myself: Will this be the year I do something for my physical or spiritual well-being? Will my challenge be something connected to study or social action? Will the goal encompass all of the above? One year I decided to become vegan. Another year, I started a multi-year study of a rabbinic midrashic work. Both of those challenges are ongoing.

This year, I decided to commit to studying Arabic to be able to converse with...

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Arm reaching up to put note in the Kotel (Western Wall)

Build up, build up a highway! Clear a road! Remove all obstacles from the road of My people! (Isaiah 57:14)

On Yom Kippur, when haftarah readers all over the world will raise their voices in chant – so-lu so-lu… build up build up a highway – the symbolic image of Isaiah’s highway translates in my mind to the major roadways crisscrossing Israel today. Road-building and highway expansions in Israel are a good sign for the country’s overall economic health. I’m especially excited about the new high-speed rail between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. This concretization of symbol doesn’t...

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