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Rabbi Stephen Lewis Fuchs

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A pair of feet faced with a choice: do good or do bad, which are noted on the ground in front of the feet

Both at home and when I’m in Germany, where I travel frequently, people often ask me: How could a good God allow the Holocaust to happen? The best answer to this question, I believe, lies in the biblical story of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:1-16).

It was Cain who initiated the idea of an offering to God, and Abel also brought his choicest flocks. However, the efforts of commentators to justify God’s action by saying Cain brought dried out stalks (B’reishit Rabbah, chapter 22) ring hollow.

Why then does God reject one offering and accept the other? I do not know. God does not...

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Side view of Notre Dame Cathedral as it stood before the April 2019 fire

In March 2012, I visited Paris in my capacity as then-president of the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ). I’d just attended the European Union for Progressive Judaism’s convention in Amsterdam.

Overshadowing our Paris visit was a horrible tragedy in which four people were savagely murdered at a Jewish day school in Toulouse. We received the heartbreaking news as Rabbi Tom Cohen, of Kehilat Gesher in Paris, was showing us the magnificent Cathedral of Notre Dame. Ms. Miriam Kramer, chairman of the European Union, and Mr. Stéphane Beder, president of the French Union of...

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Benjamin Netanyahu head and shoulders shot

Recently, when I was asked to comment on the Israeli film, Oslo Diaries, I noted that I see it as a valuable perspective on a missed opportunity for peace between Israel and the Palestinians and a sobering reminder that there were sincere proponents for peace on both sides. I also view the movie as a “hatchet job,” on Israel’s current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

A friend wrote that if it is a “hatchet job,” it is a well-deserved one. He then asked rhetorically if Netanyahu’s silence in the face of right-wing sentiment against Yitzhak Rabin and Netanyahu’s own words...

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Man holding an open Bible in the palm of his left hand

The Hebrew Bible contains 23,145 verses and if I had permission to excise only one, I have no doubt which it would be: “Happy the one who seizes and smashes your infants against the rock” (Psalm 137:9).

Psalms 137 is a stirring lament over the destruction of Judah in 586 B.C.E. and the exile of a significant percentage of its population to Babylon. The rage and humiliation of the exiles, with their “harps hung on the willows near Babylon’s rivers,” is palpable as they commit to remember their beloved Jerusalem even as Judah’s captors taunt them: “Sing us some of Zion’s songs!” (...

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Hands of a young man cutting a tomato from the vine

As the Torah begins to recount the long-ago slavery of our people in Egypt, my mind and my heart turn to tomato farmworkers in Immokalee, Florida.

Recently, I visited Immokalee for three days through a program sponsored by T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights that was led by Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster.

Ninety percent of all tomatoes that are eaten fresh in the eastern United States are grown in Immokalee. It is one of Florida’s poorest cities and life for its farm laborers is mired in poverty – even after hours of back-breaking work in the vast tomato fields day after...

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