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Silver yad pointing to Hebrew text in Torah scroll

Facebook’s lighthearted quizzes often clog my newsfeed. Answer a few simple questions, they tease, and, voila, they will reveal which superhero, candy bar, Muppet, von Trapp Family singer, or European city best characterizes your personality.

Sometimes, I ponder creating a quiz of my own: “What Torah Trope Are You?”

Chants used for reading Torah and other sacred texts may be an unusual metaphor to assess one’s inner nature. However, the symbols that help vocalists create the chanting melodies can be quite revealing.

In a typical Torah portion, there are roughly 20...

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Side view of grocery cart containing produce, bread, and several other items

Thursday afternoon has become my favorite time to run errands. The stores are jam-packed on Friday mornings as people bustle around the city preparing for Shabbat, and I prefer to beat the rush. Although I still get bumped with the occasional shopping cart, I feel far less claustrophobic and can usually find someone willing to explain the difference between two spice mixes that look identical to my untrained eye.   

This past Thursday, I pulled my safta (grandmother) cart through the aisles of Osher Ad, the Israeli...

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Three firefighters face the California wildfires

The death toll and damage continue to rise in California in the wildfires ravaging the state. More than 6,400 homes have been damaged and at least 31 people have been killed, according to CNN.

Like other Californians, Jewish residents are evacuating their homes and dealing with the devastating fallout of the fires. Synagogues, camps and a day school have all sustained damage.

Here are two remarkable stories...

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A row of five women with arms intertwined, seen from the back

Rachel then said; “A mighty rivalry have I waged with my sister; moreover, I have prevailed.” -- Genesis 30:8

In this little-known narrative from this week’s Torah portion, Vayeitzi, as often happens in stories featuring women, Rachel and Leah are pitted against one another.

Also in the parashah (Torah portion), Jacob travels to visit Laban, meets Rachel, and falls in love with her. Her father Laban insists that in order to marry her, Jacob must work for him for...

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Artwork of hands of different hues

Editor's Note: This piece came from a random yet delightful Facebook conversation between Rabbi Allison Bergman Vann and me just before the High Holidays. After seeing, from my social media posts, how much I love the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Rabbi Vann asked to discuss how the themes in the critically acclaimed movie Black Panther regarding unity and connection could be included in a Rosh HaShanah sermon. This essay is the result of that conversation: a “remixed” version of her incredible sermon and an example of what...

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