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The author (holding guitar) and his husband (with shofar) at High Holiday services in Milan

When people learn that my husband Don and I live in Jerusalem, invariably among the first questions they ask is about the High Holidays. “I’ve often dreamt of being there for Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. What’s it like?”

I can’t tell you much about the High Holidays in Israel, actually. Although we made aliyah (moved to Israel) six years ago, we’ve only spent one Yamim Nora-im (Days of Awe) in Jerusalem. And I don’t recall much...

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Birds flying against a stark white sky as if to represent serenity

I have always loved the story that the rabbis tell, that they decided to place Psalm 150 as the last of the psalms because they knew that after all the words have been said, what is left to praise God is music - the timbrels and shofars and rhythms of song. And it ends with the joyous command, "Let everything that breathes praise God!"

I wrote this poem in honor of a dear man, a beloved pillar of my synagogue who died last week, thinking "after the words, after the music, after our very breath - what comes after that we can continue to praise God?"

A Psalm: A Song of Beauty... Read More

Concrete building in which members of Kibbutz Mishol live

In a nondescript building in Nof HaGalil (a town in the north of Israel that until this year was called Nazareth Illit), 150 people – half of whom are children – are attempting to create societal transformation. These individuals, members of Kibbutz Mishol, are part of a burgeoning “urban kibbutz” movement.

Although the word “kibbutz” calls to mind isolated, agricultural settlements, now considered by some to be a part of Israel’s past, Kibbutz Mishol is no ordinary kibbutz. Urban kibbutzim such as Mishol pride themselves on...

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Jonah Bookman poses with his state senator

I chose to spend the last day of summer before seventh grade participating in the 2019 Sacramento Lobby Day with the California Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC-CA). This was a very special experience for me, and it was incredible to be able to go and participate with my synagogue, Congregation Or Ami in Calabasas, CA. 

I have always hated thinking about people who go to bed at night with no safe place to sleep and no food. Even though it’s hard to imagine,...

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Black and white photo of Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen was born on September 21, 1934 in Westmount, Quebec two days after his family observed Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, at Congregation Shaar Hashomayim, the oldest traditional Ashkenazi synagogue in Canada. 

When Leonard was 9 years old, his father, Nathan, was laid to rest in the congregation’s cemetery. In a secret ritual, the grief-stricken boy folded a message into one of his father’s bowties and buried it in the garden.

All his...

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