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Rabbi Stanley M. Davids

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Israeli flag against blue sky, next to rocks

Colonialism can find expression in many different ways, none of them pretty. The word itself conjures up painful images of economic, political, and/or military domination by external forces. Who would wear the label “colonial power” with pride in the 21st century?

But what about cultural colonialism?

Google defines cultural colonialism as “the desire of wealthy nations to control other nations’ values….” Too many of us have been practicing the dark art of cultural colonialism when addressing the State of Israel.

For many years, it has been the practice of leading...

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Jerusalem and the surrounding hills at night

The Torah is rich with warnings about how a bystander is not exempt from certain levels of responsibility. If you see a neighbor’s animal that is lost, you must not turn away. If you see a neighbor in distress, you must not turn away. If you witness a crime, you must testify.

And I would add: If you know a truth, you must not conceal it. If you hear a truth or if you see a truth, you must not hide from it.

One cannot build an enduring future based upon willful ignorance. Even if what we hear troubles us or offends us or even angers us. Sometimes a child will babble...

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Heavy link chain in shadow across the sky; last link is broken and three birds fly free, away from the chain

Perhaps Nat King Cole was wrong. Perhaps there never really were “lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer….days of soda and pretzels and beer.” The summer of 1969, for example, was far from lazy, though at times it was indeed hazy and crazy. Neil Armstrong. Woodstock. Charles Manson. Chappaquiddick.

Despite what we want to believe, ha-olam k’minhago holech, the world keeps moving forward with little regard for human conventions such as calendars. Instead of quietly going on a vacation, Israel Education Minister Rafi Peretz recently embraced conversion therapy as a reasonable means of “...

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Statue of justice, blindfolded with scale, in front of shelves of books

The United States Constitution is kept within an atomic bomb-proof vault in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Our nation’s foundational document therefore (hopefully) is well protected from any who would seek to do it physical harm. There are constant battles about how best to understand the original intent of the Constitution’s authors, and battles rage on as well about how to find ways to expand the Constitution’s protections in a world vastly different from June 21, 1788, when it was formally adopted.  But that vault bears profound testimony to the role the Constitution plays in...

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Seven-branched menorah near the Israeli Knesset

Last week I was listening to an NPR discussion of the early days of our republic. The commentator asserted that it is reasonable to be highly suspicious of the motivations behind what came to be known as the American Revolution. As the clouds of war darkened the lives of those British citizens who called themselves patriots, the real beneficiaries of the prolonged conflict might very well have been the wealthy white male slave owners in the southern states.

But there is a proof text that conclusively shows that the leaders of the revolution were motivated by a vision of a better...

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