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Boxes of donations in support of immigrant children and families

Last month, Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) published a blog post by Pat Blum, a longtime resident of McAllen, TX, (and my wife!). Pat writes in part:

As a resident of McAllen, Texas, for more than 40 years, I know what value immigrants bring to our community…. What is happening to children and parents fleeing torture and violence in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala is a terrible reality…. What our government has done to these families [by separating parents and...

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Small brown bird standing on grey stone

I have a story to tell you. It’s about a tiny bird. But I’ll come back to that.

Tishah B’Av has been set aside as a day for the Jewish community to remember the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple two thousand years ago. Traditionally, this day is observed with fasting, prayers of lament and rituals of mourning. Two thousands years is a very  long time, however, and grief abates.

So if Tishah B’Av no longer compels, what’s to be done with it?

Earlier this week, while I was trying to figure this...

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Woman's hand on the Western Wall next to notes in a crevice

Exile is one of the preeminent themes of the Torah. From the outset of Genesis, Adam and Eve are exiled from the Garden of Eden. Abraham is called by God to “the land I will show you” but famine forces him to seek refuge in Egypt. Joseph is sold off to Egypt, where, at the end of his life, he makes his family promise, “When God has taken notice of you, carry up my bones from here” (Gen. 50:25). The remainder of the Torah – all of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy – charts Israel’s pursuit of a path back home.

Jewish history works in similar cycles of dispersion and return...

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The author wears a prayer shawl and sings as he walks with other Women of the Wall members toward the Kotel while Haredi look on from atop a tall wall

My strong beliefs in gender equality, religious freedom, and social justice motivated me and a group of friends to go to the Western Wall last Friday morning for Rosh Chodesh. We were there to support Women of the Wall, an organization fighting for women's right to pray aloud at the Kotel.

While there, we experienced harassment by Haredim (Ultra-Orthodox Jews), who shouted curses at us and disturbed our prayers with their yelling, whistles, and pushing. Haredi boys...

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A mans hand clutching at a barbed wire fence against a blue sky

As I watch human tragedies unfold on the U.S.-Mexican border and elsewhere, nothing is helping me more right now than a conversation I had on my radio show On Being with literary historian and author Lyndsey Stonebridge, who channels the thinking of the 20th-century Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt.

Lyndsey is a professor of modern literature and history at the University of East Anglia in Norfolk, England. She’s the author of ...

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