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Wooden sign pointing on two directions that read SIMPLE and COMPLICATED

Every argument that is for [the sake of] heaven's name, it is destined to endure. But if it is not for [the sake of] heaven's name -- it is not destined to endure. What is [an example of an argument] for [the sake of] heaven's name? The argument of Hillel and Shammai. What is [an example of an argument] not for [the sake of] heaven's name? The argument of Korach and all of his congregation (Pirke Avot 5:17).

In last week’s Torah portion, Parashat Korach, we read of a major argument within the Israelite tribe...

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Young man in sweats, head down, sitting on the bottom step of a flight of stairs

There is a Jewish prayer callled the Mi Shebeirach in which we ask God, who blesses all, to grant complete healing (refuah shleimah) of body and soul to those who are ailing. Of course, we pray, but one of the beautiful ideas inherent in Judaism is that we work in partnership with God, so even when our prayer is one for healing, we also are called upon to act.

When a malady is physical, we can offer chicken soup, rides to the doctor, books to pass the time. What are we called upon to...

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The author with his newborn daughter

Before our daughter, Noa, was born in April, my wife and I joked that we should buy a “This is what a feminist looks like” tee-shirt for me to wear home from the hospital. During those weeks, I found myself thinking about what it means to raise a child, especially a daughter, in an age that’s spawning such powerful movements as the Women’s March and #metoo.

After several conversations, I surmised that as a father, my responsibility would be to empower my daughter daily from the very start – giving her the necessary tools and confidence to overcome whatever obstacles might land in...

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Close up on American flag; stars in the foreground, stripes in the background

About a dozen years ago, I was involved in a German-Jewish teen exchange program. German students from Frankfurt area high schools stayed with the families of teens in our synagogue, Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel in Elkins Park, PA, and then our students went to Germany to stay with their counterparts' families. Everything was going well until we took our guests by bus to Independence Hall. As we drew near to the cradle of American democracy, the usually festive German kids became strangely quiet. When pressed, they told us they expected to...

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Man and young boy kicking a soccer ball on a grassy field

Father’s Day was not a day of celebration for me as a child.

I never knew my father. My parents divorced when I was an infant. I was raised in my grandparents’ home in Chicago, with occasional visits from my mother, who was often away singing opera in New York and Milan.

All the other kids at my synagogue had fathers. They always talked about “dad” and looked on with pride as their fathers took positions of leadership and moved about the bimah (synagogue podium or platform). I felt a certain sense of inclusion by proxy, but, of course, it was not the same as having your own...

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