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Woman in bright pink sweater (face obscured) speaking into megaphone

My voice has been loud for my entire life and I’ve never been especially good at controlling its volume. What’s more, I have a lot to say. Reading this week’s Torah portion, Matot/Mas’ei, I was reminded of  all the times I’ve been told to be quiet. Sometimes those requests were reasonable, like when I was talking too loudly in the back of my classes, but often, I was silenced because our society has left little room...

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Loose beads of different colors; some strung on a string

We Jews have never been much into beads. Although we may have used them and similar objects at times for counting or marking time, we generally have stayed away from them as a ritual object for prayer. Nonetheless, some people may see parallels between beads, used for religious or spiritual purposes in Africa as long ago as 10,000 B.C.E., and the tallit (Jewish prayer shawl), whose design specifications are detailed in Numbers and Deuteronomy, texts written more than 8,000 years later. While some see similarities, I see differences.

On a tallit, the prescribed tassels, knots and...

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Two female students sitting on the ground and smiling up at at the camera while drawing Stars of David on posterboard

Each semester, all URJ Heller High students participate in a Mock Knesset – a full-group, day-long activity that introduces the basics of how the Israeli government forms and operates. The Knesset, which literally means “gathering” or “assembly,” is the Israeli national legislature, responsible for passing the nation’s laws and electing its leaders. 

We learned all about how the government of Israel works. The State of Israel has a democratic government, and the government has a multiparty parliamentary system....

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Young person praying intently at the Western Wall in Jerusalem

If you use a Jewish calendar, you may have noticed this notation last week on June 30: “Tzom Tammuz.” The phrase translates to “Fast of Tammuz” which isn’t terribly enlightening, so I thought you might like to have a bit more information.

Soon, beginning in the evening on July 21 and continuing throughout the day on July 22, we will observe the somber day known as Tishah B’Av (literally, the 9th of the Hebrew month of Av). The day is set aside to remember the destruction of the Second Temple along with other...

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American flag in background; fireworks in foreground

When I was growing up on Long Island, the phrase “Independence Day” was nothing more than two words strung together – with little understanding that America had fought for this independence, that the nation’s founders had crafted a declaration espousing what this independence would mean for this nation, and that the sacrifices our revolutionary ancestors made for this independence helped to cement the freedoms we as 20th-century Americans enjoyed.

As an adult, these seasonal memories seem so simple, innocent, and carefree. And now, living in Jerusalem, Israel, these same memories...

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