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Rabbi Suzanne Singer

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Globe with a Band-Aid covering parts of North and South America

I have always had a passion for social justice, both in my career as a television producer and in that as a rabbi. Over my nearly 10 years at Temple Beth El (TBE) in Riverside, CA, I have pursued this work with interfaith partners but rarely with my own congregation. There is a twofold reason for this. One, when I first arrived, the congregation had been through a decade of several different rabbis. I determined that my job was to heal the wounds, not to rally folks around causes. Two, TBE had no history or culture of social justice engagement. I make a distinction between social justice...

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While volunteering at a refugee center in Berlin summer, through the auspices of IsraAID, I had the opportunity to hear some poignant, personal stories that impacted me on a deep level.

Trudy Rubin, a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, kindly allowed me to sit in on her interview with a young man, aged 31, who escaped from Syria. He said the situation there was awful: no food, or electricity, or water; men (including himself) were forced to serve in the army for many years, any resistance resulting in death. Six of his close friends, he told us, had already been murdered by...

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Refugees

This blog originally appeared on ReformJudaism.org.

In children, the effects of trauma and displacement wrought on refugees from the Middle East are clearly evidenced. These children are often very aggressive with each other, hitting one another and pulling each other's hair, crying loudly when they are crossed. Yet, fortunately, these children have not lost their capacity for experiencing joy. They laugh at the simplest things: leaping off a pile of cushions, lining up to jump rope, enjoying the thrill of a bicycle ride or roller skating around the courtyard. They greet you with...

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In children, the effects of trauma and displacement wrought on refugees from the Middle East are clearly evidenced. These children are often very aggressive with each other, hitting one another and pulling each other's hair, crying loudly when they are crossed. Yet, fortunately, these children have not lost their capacity for experiencing joy. They laugh at the simplest things: leaping off a pile of cushions, lining up to jump rope, enjoying the thrill of a bicycle ride or roller skating around the courtyard. They greet you with arms wide open, ready to give you a hug.

I came to...

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The Sixth Amendment guarantees citizens the right to a fair trial, and yet, in the last year, two popular programs – season one of the Serial podcast, following the trial of accused murderer Adnan Syed, and Netflix’s 10-part documentary series Making a Murderer about accused murderer Steven Avery – have uncovered major flaws in our justice system that inhibit defendants’ ability to secure this right.

Another obstacle to fairness is the practice of solitary confinement. Prison inmates are confined to solitary at the sole discretion of prison administration, isolated in cells...

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