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Danny Cooper and another man holding signs that say REFORM JEWS WELCOME IMMIGRANTS

If someone told me, as a high school senior, that after graduating college, I’d find myself working in Washington, D.C., for the largest Jewish denomination in North America, I would have been skeptical. 

In the years following my bar mitzvah, I barely set foot in temple. I loved lighting Hannukah candles and celebrating Passover with my family, but I wasn’t drawn to more formal synagogue activities that felt often like obligations...

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Keyboard with one button bearing the Israeli flag and another reading VOTE in blue

It is a well-known dictum that it is forbidden to count Jews. We find this halachah in the Babylonian Talmud Yoma 22b, based on the words of the prophet Hosea 1:10: "And the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which shall neither be measured nor counted."

The medieval commentator Rashi challenges this negative view of counting in his commentary on the first verse of the Book of Numbers, portraying it instead as a gesture of love on the part of God:

“Because they (the children of Israel) are dear to God, God counts them often. God counted them...

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Activists holding a large sign that reads REFUGEES WELCOME

Rabbi Lee Bycel is the Sinton Visiting Professor of Holocaust, Ethics and Refugee Studies at the University of San Francisco. He served as dean of the Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles from 1982-1997.

His visits to refugee camps in Darfur, Chad, South Sudan, Rwanda, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Haiti led to his writing Refugees in America: Stories of Courage Resilience and Hope in Their Own Words (Rutgers University Press). Proceeds will benefit two refugee settlement organizations:...

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Israeli flags blowing in the wind

Jews have had a connection to the land of Israel for thousands of years – yet today, according to many polls, a majority of American Jews are a lot more hesitant to engage with Israel than past generations. Many are distraught over political realities in Israel but feel as though they don’t have the power to make a difference.

This is inaccurate, though. We all have a say in our Jewish future and what values guide Israel and world Jewry – and you don’t have to be a spectator. You can help choose what our future looks like by voting in the World Zionist Congress elections.


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Arbeit Macht Frei sign at the entrance to the Auschwitz concentration camp

Dr. Rafael Medoff is the founding director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies in Washington, D.C., which focuses on America’s response to Nazism and the Holocaust. He has taught history at Ohio State University, SUNY-Purchase, and elsewhere and authored more than 20 books about the Holocaust, Zionism, and American Jewish history. We sat down with Dr. Medoff to talk about his most recent book, The Jews Should Keep Quiet: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Rabbi...

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