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Rabbi Stephen Lewis Fuchs


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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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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