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Sheri Denkensohn-Trott

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The author and her husband at a breast cancer event

Throughout the Bible, Jews are referred to as the “chosen people.” There are many interpretations and debates about whether this nomenclature applies only to Jews, and if so, about the specific meaning of “chosen.” I believe all people are chosen to make a difference, and in that spirit, I am sharing my story as it relates to breast cancer.

I became a quadriplegic at age 16 and have dealt with many health challenges since then. Approximately nine years ago, I developed significant pressure sores that required surgery. Although the surgery was successful, I had serious complications...

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Closeup of a woman's hands resting on a wooden pew

The celebration of the 10th anniversary of Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month (JDAIM) makes clear that the concept of inclusion is a fundamental tenet of the Reform Jewish community’s values. Indeed, the progress the Jewish community has made is to be commended – but it’s important to be consistent with a message of inclusion, and not to confuse the concepts of diversity and inclusion.

While many organizations, Jewish and otherwise, have worked to embrace diversity, inclusion is a different concept entirely. Diversity leads to the presence of underrepresented...

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Lit menorah in a window of thick, opaque glass

The story of Hanukkah, passed from generation to generation, is often referred to as the “Miracle of Lights.” As it is told, Judah leads his men, the Maccabees, in a fight against King Antiochus and his army to preserve Jewish tradition. Against all odds, the Maccabees achieved victory. Judah and the Maccabees then cleaned the Temple and lit a menorah, an oil-based lamp, expecting the oil to last only one day. Miraculously, it burned for eight days and eight nights.

When I was growing up, we had two kinds of menorahs: One, from Israel, used candles and was given to my father by my...

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Gold star of David necklace in palm of hand

I grew up in a small rural town in upstate New York and I tried to hide my religion during my entire childhood. In my school, there were no other Jewish students, at least not any others that I knew.

My father grew up in Brooklyn, the son of immigrants from Russia and Poland. It was an Orthodox household and his father was president of the local synagogue. My mother was also Jewish, and although she did not receive any formal Jewish education, creating a household where religious observances and study occurred was a foundation in our family. A religious education was so important...

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