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Sofi Hersher

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Open book of the Koran on a small bench atop a colorful embroidered rug

Around this time last year, a small publisher in the United Kingdom asked me to review The 99 Names of God: An Illustrated Guide for Young and Old, a primer for children, families, and teachers about the different ways God is referred to in the Koran.

The Koran, you ask? You must mean the Torah.

Alas, my friend, I mean the Koran.

The illustrated guide is designed to be an engaging educational resource – and who better to learn about the Koran than one who has never read it? I always find interfaith encounters provide myriad ways to evaluate and deepen my own faith...

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The author standing in a row of people, including her newly ordained Baptist minister friend

As Jews, we are often reminded that the mandate to “welcome the stranger” is the most oft-cited commandment in the Torah. In the Reform community, these words are a call to conscience – we are called to act in solidary with DREAMers fighting to stay in the country they consider home; we are called to advocate for an Israel that treats refugees with respect and care. We are called to make our homes, our congregations, and our countries places of refuge and sanctuary to those of different experience, circumstance, or background.

But what about our hearts?

It occurred to me...

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A circle of people with linked arms on the bima of a synagogue

When I was 9 years old, I watched several large sections of my synagogue burn to the ground. It was 1999, and Sacramento, California, was in the midst of a spree of white supremacist violence that would claim the lives of two gay men, and see fires set to several synagogues and a local abortion clinic. I can still smell the smoke.

In times such as these, it is not just buildings that are damaged. Acts of hate damage our minds and our bodies, our individual and collective sense of security, our identity, and our place in the world. Back then, the entire congregation, as well as...

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