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This week's editorial

Shutting the door on BDS

We don’t imagine that pictures of Rebecca Vilkomerson are hanging in post offices across Israel. But the organization she heads, Jewish Voice for Peace, was recently banned there, so she and other group leaders are barred from entering the country.
Wednesday 01/17/2018
Promoting a culture of Jewish learning
Posted: January 17, 2018

As many people in the Greater Phoenix Jewish community know, Valley Beit Midrash is committed to fostering a pluralistic intellectual culture of Jewish learning with our every endeavor. Whether it is through our regular learning series, spiritual retreats, or young professional and young family programming (such as the Start Me Up! and YATOM Family Fellowships), every aspect of our organization is dedicated to celebrating the many ideas and visions for a rounded contemporary Jewish life.

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Wednesday 01/10/2018
Speaking out against hate
Posted: January 10, 2018

Last week, news broke on TMZ.com that four flight attendants were suing Delta Airlines for “a pattern of intentionally discriminating and retaliating against ethnically Jewish, Hebrew and/or Israeli employees and passengers.” The story was quickly picked up by other media outlets, and while the merits of the case will be decided in court, the online response to the suit was disturbing.

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Trump’s tweets
Posted: January 10, 2018

President Trump launched a barrage of tweets on Jan. 2 dealing with Pakistan, Iran, North Korea, the new tax law and a few other subjects — one of them addressing the Palestinians and Israel. In doing so he contradicted his previous positions and threatened to further destabilize a region for which he has long promised to deliver the “ultimate deal.”

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Wednesday 01/03/2018
Equality and inclusion for people with disabilities in Israel
Posted: January 03, 2018

There are many amazing organizations directly serving people with disabilities in Israel. But there is one tiny but mighty nonprofit that is key to winning the battle to enable people with disabilities to participate as fully and independently as possible in regular community life.

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Iran’s Jews need our help
Posted: January 03, 2018

In our discussions about Iran, whether regarding its nuclear program, its quest for regional hegemony or its funding of anti-Israeli terrorism, we don’t focus that much on the fact that the Islamic republic continues to be home to a small Jewish community. Prior to the 1979 revolution, the country had upwards of 100,000 Jews, but today just 8,500 remain, primarily in the capital of Tehran, but also in the southern cities of Isfahan and Shiraz.

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Jewish life hacks for the New Year
Posted: January 03, 2018

Life hacks describe a super-cool shortcut to achieve a desired end. As in exercise hack — take the stairs, park farther away in the parking lot. As in love hacks — rejoice in your partner’s successes, touch them affectionately, a lot. Here’s a great life hack I picked up: Do you have a collection of plastic grocery bags? Is the collection out of control? Not sure where I picked up this hack, but how about using an empty tissue box as a dispenser for those bags? Pretty cool, eh?

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Wednesday 12/27/2017
Exploring the place of my family’s history
Posted: December 27, 2017

I was the child who walked into my fifth-grade family history project with a family tree rolled into a scroll that I had to rubber-band shut. It had everyone in my family on it — from my great aunt who came to the United States from Lithuania, to my cousin who was born in California, to my great-grandfather who was born in Ukraine. As I began to unravel the scroll and learn about the history of my ancestors, I was fascinated by just how many of my family members came from the former Soviet Union. Upon learning, earlier this year, that 2017 was the 30th anniversary year of the March on Washington for Soviet Jewry, I decided it was my responsibility to explore the place where my family had such a rich history.

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Don’t gloat over Rubashkin’s release
Posted: December 27, 2017

President Trump’s commutation last week of the prison sentence of Sholom Rubashkin, who was convicted in 2009 of bank fraud and money laundering, was a commendable act of kindness. That’s primarily because the former chief executive of what had been the largest kosher slaughterhouse in the country had served eight years of a disproportionately heavy 27-year sentence.

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Wednesday 12/20/2017
Wanted: a Palestinian peace partner
Posted: December 20, 2017

In the aftermath of President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was one of the first world leaders to criticize and condemn the move. Then, Abbas went further. His office announced there would be no meetings with Vice President Mike Pence on his visit to the Middle East.

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On contact with Orthodoxy
Posted: December 20, 2017

I write this sitting in a hotel room in Philadelphia, here to attend the annual world conference of the Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies. That is an organization dedicated to studying and following the history and fate of Jews forced by the Spanish Inquisition to, at least publicly, pretended to give up their faith and convert to Catholicism. My wife and I have been very involved in the study of their lives.

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Wednesday 12/13/2017
Clashes did not spontaneously ‘erupt’
Posted: December 13, 2017

After President Donald Trump announced U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last week, the world readied itself for the reaction from Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims. And in the statements that followed from world leaders, it was sometimes hard to know what was a prediction, what was a provocation and what was a license for the Arab world to unleash its violent fury.

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