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Still from the film featuring Waldheim appearing on Austrian national TV

Ruth Beckermann’s new film, The Waldheim Waltz, is a persuasive accounting of the life and political career of Kurt Josef Waldheim, who served as the fourth secretary general of the United Nations (1972 -1981) and later elected as president of Austria (1986-1992). The documentary not only lays bare the revelations about his World War II military service that surfaced during his presidential run, but also examines how a country’s very identity can become ensnared in the debate over the misdeeds of one individual.

Berkermann,...

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In the foreground, a digitized image of a double helix in various shades of pink and magenta

When I was in my late 20s, I visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. I was prepared to be moved, disturbed, and even frightened by what I would encounter there. After all, my father and his parents and grandmother escaped Berlin in 1941, a fact that has hung over our family’s history like a veil. But the thing that stood out for me so powerfully during that visit was how much the faces of the European Jews looked just like me.

Genetics is a strange thing. We inherit our hair color, our height, our dimples from our ancestors. I inherited my deep brown...

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A group of friends eating a casual dinner together

Although I have been living in Jerusalem since August, only in this past week has my schedule achieved some semblance of normalcy. This is because the fall holidays do not simply affect one day at a time in Israel, rather they impact entire weeks.

There are plenty of similarities in religious observances for Jews around the world – on Rosh HaShanah we eat apples and honey, on Yom Kippur we fast, on...

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Baby lying on her back with feet toward the camera

Kids ask questions. A lot of questions. My 1-year-old daughter hasn’t entered the inquisitive phase yet, but she will. I can already see it in her impish grin, her mischievous giggle, and the way she instinctively crawls toward things in the house that she’s not supposed to crawl toward. This kid is a challenger, a questioner, and a seeker of truth.

My wife and I have made a commitment to raising her in the Reform Jewish tradition and having her attend preschool at Shaaray Tefila, become a...

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Pair of hands holding two puzzle pieces

When I was a college freshman, I began embracing Judaism to reconnect to my Jewish ancestry. Although I was raised as a Christian, I come from a multi-ethnic background, which includes German-Jewish heritage. I found great joy in learning about Jewish culture, enjoying food and song over Kabbalat Shabbat, and bonding with my peers at Hillel. But despite my love of Judaism’s cultural and communal aspects, I couldn’t bring myself to fully acknowledge God.

I couldn’t get over the seemingly paradoxical nature of a loving...

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