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Large group of teenagers posing with Rabbi Paul Kipnes in front of the US Capitol Building

Back in the day, 13-year-old Jewish boys and girls became adults. Their parents were invited to recite the blessing: Baruch shep’tarnu mei-ha-onsho shel zeh, blessed is the One who has freed us from the responsibility for this child. Parents marked the moment that they were no longer responsible for the (potentially sinful) actions of their adult children.

Today, anyone paying attention knows that the journey into adulthood unfolds for many young people well into their late twenties. In fact, as rabbis of ...

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US Capitol building against a cloudy blue sky

Last week, the House of Representatives moved the dangerous ADA Education and Reform Act (H.R. 620) out of committee, and we expect a vote on the bill this week. This bill would undermine key sections of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and, for the first time in our civil rights law, create waiting periods for a protected class to enforce their civil rights.


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Reading from the Indonesian Jewish community's new Torah scroll

Spread across nearly 3,000 kilometers on six islands, Indonesia’s re-emerging Jewish community is nearly unique. Its small kehilot (communities) and family groupings see themselves as part of one interconnected community, although hundreds if not thousands of air and ocean kilometers separate them.

Joint community events often require long flights on small planes, or even longer (much longer) several day boat-rides. Each island and group has its own language, but luckily the post-colonial language, Bahasa Indonesia, and members’ Jewish identity help bring them together. Each...

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Farm workers harvesting in the field

Recently, members of Bat Yam Temple of the Islands in Sanibel, Florida, together with dozens of farm workers, interfaith leaders, and committed individuals, demonstrated outside the Wendy’s restaurant on Highway 41 in Fort Myers. Our mission was to urge Wendy’s management to join other food outlets as a participant in the Fair Food Program, which ensures a living wage and safe working conditions for farm workers in Immokalee, Florida, where 90% of the tomatoes consumed in the United States are grown. 

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Yellow flowers on a cactus blooming in the desert

Water is essential to human life and Israel is more than 60% desert. During the years the State of Israel was being established, pioneers faced the challenge of creating a self-sufficient society in an environment without easy access to food or water.

The answer? Innovation.

Most of the pioneers who arrived in Israel during the many aliyot (waves of immigration) leading up to 1948 were not the Nobel laureates, scientists, engineers, or entrepreneurs who make up Israeli society today. During the early aliyot, many of the pioneers were teens and young adults with few skills...

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