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Rabbi Stephen Lewis Fuchs


Overlapping pads of Post-It notes with a handwritten question mark on the top page of each pad

“My mother made me a scientist without ever intending it. Every other Jewish mother in Brooklyn would ask her child after school: ‘So? Did you learn anything today?’ But not my mother. She always asked me a different question. ‘Izzy,’ she would say, ‘did you ask a good question today?’ That difference – asking good questions – made me become a scientist!” -- Isidor I. Rabi, Nobel laureate

As we begin to read the Torah again each year on Simchat Torah, I am reminded of my first rabbinical assignment.

A first year student at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of...

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Hands holding up a globe

Each year, the voice that speaks to my soul about the stark contrast between the inward focus of Yom Kippur and the outward thrust of Sukkot grows louder and louder.

Yom Kippur is all about quiet and contemplation. Sukkot is about building and action.

Yom Kippur asks us to look at ourselves. Sukkot asks us to look at the world.

Tradition teaches that after we rise from our Yom Kippur introspection and eat a bit, we should go outside and hammer the first nail into our sukkah (a small outdoor hut, open to the sky, used during Sukkot).

The sukkah represents the...

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Profile of a woman staring off  into a sunset on the water with her hair blowing around her in the wind

“Hayom harat Olam!” “This is the day of the world’s birth,” we proclaim each time we hear the shofar’s blast. It is the central message of Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish new year: to celebrate the teachings and ideals of Genesis’ magnificent creation story.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” our Torah begins, so many ask: How could God have created the world in seven days? What about the dinosaurs and evolution? Don’t we believe in that?

Of course we believe in that! The creation story in Genesis does not offer a scientific account of how the world was...

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Iron gate with a Jewish star on it leading into an old cemetery

My wife Vickie and I are spending several weeks in Germany as we have for the past three years, teaching and speaking to various groups of students and religious leaders. Among the highlights of this year’s visit was an opportunity to address Lutheran pastors at a regional convention at the Christian Jensen College in the North Sea village of Breklum. The topic I addressed was the concept of “memory” in Jewish thought and its connection to a Jewish theology after Auschwitz.

Arriving at the room where I was to speak, I was pleased to be so warmly greeted by two pastors at whose...

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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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