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Rabbi Stephen Lewis Fuchs


Pocketwatch partially buried in sand

Two years ago, this sacred Jewish season was my “Lost Passover.” For the first time in my life, I did not attend a seder. A strep infection of unknown origin had centered in my left rear thigh and was poisoning my body. I was in the hospital, fighting for my life.

Following surgery to drain the infection and 19 steel staples to close the wound, the only acknowledgment I could give Passover was to attend Yizkor services at the Jewish rehab center where I spent a week after my release from the hospital. At Passover’s close, my son, Ben, smuggled in a pizza, so I could end the...

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Farm workers harvesting in the field

Recently, members of Bat Yam Temple of the Islands in Sanibel, Florida, together with dozens of farm workers, interfaith leaders, and committed individuals, demonstrated outside the Wendy’s restaurant on Highway 41 in Fort Myers. Our mission was to urge Wendy’s management to join other food outlets as a participant in the Fair Food Program, which ensures a living wage and safe working conditions for farm workers in Immokalee, Florida, where 90% of the tomatoes consumed in the United States are grown. 

As part of the demonstration, a few of us carried a letter detailing our request...

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Full moon illuminating dark sky and clouds

Although Jewish folklore and midrashic literature take a different view, everything the Torah shares with us about Jacob’s youth is negative. First, he takes advantage of his brother’s hunger to extort the family birthright from him. Later, at his mother’s urging, Jacob stands before his blind father, dressed in Esau’s clothes, lies through his teeth (twice!) and swears to Isaac, “I am Esau, your first born.”

Ironically, Jacob displays this despicable behavior so that Isaac will bless him as the spiritual heir to the covenant God first made with Abraham. Esau, understandably, is...

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Muslim man bent in prayer over an ornate prayer rug

“How long O Eternal One?” The plaintive cry is (at least) as old as the Bible, but we ask it again in the wake of the recent tragedy in El Arish, Egypt.

I spent a night in El Arish in 1981. There when peace seemed possible in the Middle East, I frolicked in the surf on a beautiful beach with Palestinians named Mahmoud and Fawzi. Today I wonder if Mahmoud, Fawzi, their wives, children, and grandchildren were among those the terrorists murdered?

What kind of savages meticulously plan and carry out an attack on people worshipping in a mosque that kills more than 300 people?...

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Assorted rocks and stones on wet sand; largest one says Blessings

Next week, we will celebrate Thanksgiving. In November, too, our Torah readings take up the story of Jacob. In my mind, these two seemingly different topics dovetail beautifully.

In 1936, at the height of the Great Depression, Connecticut Governor Wilbur Cross appealed to the indomitable human spirit in his Thanksgiving proclamation: “It has seemed good to our people to join together in praising the Creator… for the blessings that have been our common lot … for honor held above price; for steadfast courage and zeal in the long search after truth; for liberty and for justice... that...

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