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Rabbi Stephen Lewis Fuchs


Whether you prefer the 1843 book or any of the many movie versions made since, there is no question that Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is a classic.

Now, despite the season for which Dickens wrote it, A Christmas Carol is a Yom Kippur story if there ever was one.

As a small child, I lived to hear Ebenezer Scrooge say, “Bah! Humbug!”  Only when I was a bit older did I start to appreciate the drama that unfolds after the first commercial.

Scrooge spends a restless night marked by four fateful encounters. The first is with the ghost of his dead business partner...

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My consciousness of my special identity as a Jew as it relates to athletics began in the 1950s, when, on a Rosh HaShanah afternoon, I heard the mellifluous voice of the great Red Barber say, “The old familiar number 31 of Brooklyn first-base coach Jake Pitler will be missing today, as he is observing the Jewish new year and is not in the ball park.”

My consciousness of Jews in American sports developed further during many an oneg Shabbat at my congregation, Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel in East Orange, N.J. While my parents socialized with friends, I drifted into the temple’s library...

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This year marked the first time in my life I did not attend a Passover seder. Instead, Erev Pesach found me in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.

At the time, my wife Vickie was in San Francisco tending to her ailing 94-year old mother. I planned to drive from Connecticut to New Jersey to join the family seder there, but it didn’t turn out that way.

That Friday morning, I woke up with a severe pain in my leg. I was not overly concerned when I called Vickie in California to tell her – but she was. She called our son and asked him to come right over. When he got to our...

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Gogi Grant album cover

In 1956 when Elvis’ songs – “Don’t Be Cruel,” “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You,” and “Love Me Tender” – were hitting number one on Your Hit Parade, a Jewish girl from Philadelphia grabbed the top spot from the King.

Myrtle Audrey Arinsberg – better known as Gogi Grant – the eldest of six children born to Russian-Jewish parents, reigned for five weeks at number one with “The Wayward Wind.”

Sixty years later, the song’s timeless beauty endures. It is one of the best, most tightly told and evocative “story-songs” of all time. Ms. Grant’s dead-on performance of her classic...

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Since I was a child, the song “Chad Gadya” has been one of my favorite parts of the Passover seder. Its catchy melody and its underlying message always resonated with me.

Singing the song was such fun, as we outdid each other to remember the words and sing them as quickly as possible until we came to the refrain” “Chad Gadya, Chad Gadya, My father bought for two zuzim, Chad Gadya, Chad, Gadya.”

The people of Israel were the Chad Gadya, Aramaic for the innocent little goat devoured successively by one power after another. The ultimate hope, of course, is that one day the...

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