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Rabbi Steven Stark Lowenstein

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President Harry S. Truman and Eddie Jacobson

It’s well known that almost 70 years ago, on May 14, 1948 at 4 p.m. local time, David Ben-Gurion read the Declaration of Independence that brought the modern Jewish State into existence. It’s also well known that just 11 minutes later, United States President Harry S. Truman recognized the new State of Israel.

What’s not so well known is that Truman’s prompt recognition might not have happened without Eddie Jacobson, a little-known Reform Jew from Kansas City, MO, who was Truman’s Army buddy and former business partner.

As the story goes, Jacobson was born to poor...

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Golda Meir

Last month at Independence Hall in Tel Aviv, our guide off-handedly mentioned that if we wanted to read a great speech, we should read the speech Golda Meir gave in Chicago. Immediately, I Googled the speech.  

It was January of 1948 and the Jews in Palestine already were fighting neighboring Arabs on a regular basis. Convoys of cars going up to Jerusalem were being ambushed; skirmishes were breaking out all through the country. To help finance the fighting, David Ben-Gurion sent Golda Meir to the United States to raise funds from the American Jewish community, the strongest and...

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Dictionary entry for grateful

Occasionally, you meet someone who changes your life. For me, actor and director Harold Ramis was such a person.

I watched him in comedies throughout my childhood: “Animal House,” “Stripes,” “Caddyshack,” “Ghostbusters,” and “Groundhog Day.” I watched them so often that to this day, I can still quote lines from each one. Those movies are part of my DNA. They helped shape who I am and what makes me laugh.  

When I first arrived at Am Shalom in Glencoe, IL, I would see him around town – at Starbucks, on the basketball court watching our kids play, eating lunch at Country...

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Rabbi Steven Lowenstein with Maccabiah athlete and two other people

“As a Jew, I need Israel. More precisely: I can live as a Jew outside Israel, but not without Israel.” -- Elie Wiesel

It has been a tough few weeks in Israel. Jews around the world have been devastated to see Israel's prime minister renege on promises to create an egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel (Western Wall), not to mention the conversion crisis, the blacklist of 160 rabbis whose rulings regarding who is a Jew are not recognized by Israel’s chief rabbi, and most recently, a terror attack on the Temple Mount. Amidst all this negativity, New York Times columnist Thomas...

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Two Syrian refugee sisters reuniting at the airport in Chicago

I have told the Passover story over and over, year after year – tasting bitterness, weeping salty tears, making mortar for bricks, and baking flat bread. And then we were liberated – with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with signs and wonders – and I danced joyfully with Miriam, tambourine in hand. Dayenu. It would have been enough. Throw in some macaroons and those jelly fruit slices… Dayenu, indeed.   

Last week, however, I not only felt the Passover story, I watched it unfold before my eyes.

At 6:50 a.m. last Friday, my wife Julie and I drove to Skokie, picked up...

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