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To be quite frank, I am not exactly sure where I should start. This year on the Aardvark Gap Year Program has been full of long nights, unforgettable memories and lifelong friendships, all while being in the beautiful Holy Land of Israel. This past year I can definitely tell you that God has…

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During our recent board of governors meeting of the Jewish Agency for Israel, our new executive, Yitzhak Herzog, reminded us of our history that began in 1929 before pre-statehood Palestine. The original purpose of the Jewish Agency was to coordinate the activities of the various organizatio…

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Soft power describes how communities and countries exert influence through persuasion. Soft power is how countries and communities use the attractiveness of their culture, values and institutions as a means to enhance their strength and standing. By contrast, hard power implies compelling ac…

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For as long as any of us can remember, our country’s Independence Day observance has been marked by traditional patriotism: barbecues, flag-waving, fireworks, local parades and all manner of family and community gatherings. It has been a warm, unthreatening, self-satisfying celebration that …

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Jewish-organization watchers were surprised last week by the apparent collapse of The Israel Project, more often known as TIP, which describes itself as “the only organization dedicated to changing people’s minds about Israel through cutting-edge strategic communications.” First came reports…

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In the view of some ardent defenders of the separation between religion and state, there was no doubt that a war memorial in the form of a 40-foot-tall cross should not be allowed to stay on state property in Bladensburg, Md. Some Jews saw the presence of the so-called “Peace Cross” on land …

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The point of remembering the Holocaust is not to say that it was an utterly distinctive event in human history. Every historical event is distinctive in some ways, but systematic genocide of a people has, sadly, been found at many times and places in human history.

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Last week’s Democratic “debates” — featuring 20 contenders in four hours of Q&A over two successive nights of prime time broadcast — introduced the country to a number of formidable, experienced, intelligent and passionate presidential contenders. And while Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth W…

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Last week, Gary Rosenblatt, the editor and publisher of the New York Jewish Week, announced his retirement. In the world of Jewish journalism, the news was significant. It marked the beginning of another chapter in the development of our industry.

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A 2017 UNICEF report revealed that Israel has the third-highest children’s poverty rate in the developed world, behind Mexico and Chile. One-third of Israeli children reside in poverty. The government has failed to aggressively aid impoverished Israeli citizens. According to a 2016 report, t…

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In contemporary usage, the phrase “concentration camp” means one thing: the place the Nazis and their allies sent Jews and others they considered undesirable for forced labor and mass execution. Although there are historical uses of the words that relate to other mass detention situations, t…

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One of the strange consequences of the recent changes in U.S. tax law is the imposition of an obligation to pay taxes on otherwise tax-exempt organizations. The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act requires nonprofits — including synagogues, social service agencies and day schools —to pay a business i…

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On grocery store checkout lines around the country this month, amid the candy bars and zany tabloids, shoppers will find a glossy 96-page magazine called “Anne Frank: Her Life and Legacy.” The publication, compiled by the staff of Life magazine, is filled with photographs of Anne and her fam…

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Only in Israel can you be gay, a government minister and — most revolutionary of all — right-wing. This new, good kind of “intersectionality” is a strong indication that we are not merely “the only democracy in the Middle East,” but one of the most advanced democracies in the world.

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is viewed by most as a stalwart, rational and articulate friend of the state of Israel, who is laser-focused on maximizing the mutual benefits of the U.S.- Israel relationship. As one of the vocal supporters of Trump administration policies, he is known to have t…

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Jewish umbrella organizations are not the same as the individual groups they represent. As such, the relationship between the organization and its members can be complex — depending on the sensitivity of leadership and how far the membership is ready or willing to go.

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So now it’s come to this. Proving yet again that despite the unlimited creativity of human ingenuity and the equally unlimited potential of the human spirit, we are unfortunately powerless to stop the destructive power of nature and human ignorance, we have managed to rewind the clock to the…

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So now it’s come to this. Proving yet again that despite the unlimited creativity of human ingenuity and the equally unlimited potential of the human spirit, we are unfortunately powerless to stop the destructive power of nature and human ignorance, we have managed to rewind the clock to the…

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Although we know what Israelis who oppose haredi Orthodox control of the chief rabbinate and other state bodies are against, it isn’t clear why are they against it and what they are trying to accomplish. In a penetrating column last week, Michael J. Koplow, policy director of the Israel Poli…

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One would think that the organizers of last Friday’s Dyke March in Washington, D.C., would have been anxious for support from participants of all stripes who wanted to join the march and carry a gay pride rainbow flag. But it turns out that if the flag also had a large Star of David displaye…

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Among key issues that have collapsed the 21st Knesset before its ministers have even been sworn into their positions is the enlistment, or lack of, haredim serving in the military. As part of legacy agreements established and signed at the creation of modern-day Israel between leading rabbis…

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It turns out that Prime Minister Netanyahu didn’t win Israel’s April Knesset elections after all. When the clock ran out last week, he was unable to form a parliamentary majority to lead a new government. Reports indicate that, at the 11th hour, he tested a number of different alliance and j…

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“If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Robert Mueller declared last week, as he resigned as special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. 

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Abortion again. The never-ending legal struggle goes on. Unfortunately, it is a struggle that tends to suppress the possibility of reasoned moral conversations. Consumed with the issue of rights (on both sides), there is little patience for more nuanced ethical concerns.

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When 19-year-old American-born Michaela Levit died in Israel by her own hand this month, she became another lone soldier in the Israel Defense Forces to die by suicide this year. The death of Levit, who made aliyah in 2017, has raised more questions about how the IDF treats its lone soldiers…

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In assessing the threat of rising anti-Semitism posed to Jews in Germany, the country’s commissioner on anti-Semitism, Felix Klein, was honest and forthcoming, even if his response to the problem was incomplete and unsatisfying. 

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My late mother, Shirley Friedberg Neustein, was a childhood friend of Herman Wouk. In the 1920s and ’30s Wouk attended the boys division of a Zionist camp (Keeyuma/Carmelia), which was picturesquely situated on Lake Champlain in Milton, Vermont. They kept up until my mother died in 2001. 

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As part of my executive MBA curriculum, I had the option to travel to one of three international sites — Israel, Brazil, or Colombia — for a weeklong, global business immersion. Wanting to venture where I had never been, I chose Israel. It turned out to be one of the most important and inspi…

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It is a sunny Friday morning and I am visiting Al-Tuwani, a small Palestinian village in the West Bank. Around us some children are playing, others are moving sheep and goats to graze, and women are hanging laundry to dry. If you knew nothing about the conflict occurring here you would descr…

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Benjamin Netanyahu is the longest-serving prime minister in the history of the state of Israel. And if he has his way, he may never give up his post.  

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There is a clear national consensus on the need for immigration reform. And there is hope that, even in the highly politicized environment of Capitol Hill, serious people will engage on the issues and work toward a solution with the give and take inherent in any meaningful negotiation — keep…

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According to the World Health Organization, suicide remains among the leading causes of death for teens. When I became a teacher, I never envisioned the emails to attend funerals for former students. I received one recently regarding a young man who was enrolled in my eighth-grade class just…

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I ran into an old friend about three weeks after the Tree of Life massacre, a former Pittsburgher, who wanted to talk about the events of Oct. 27, when a white supremacist gunman murdered 11 Jewish congregants during Shabbat services. In particular, she wanted to know about one of the surviv…

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Fifty-six years ago, the Israeli Knesset established Yom Hazikaron as the Remembrance Day for fallen soldiers. It is poignantly observed the day before Yom Ha’atzmaut — Israeli Independence Day — to make clear how intertwined personal sacrifice is with the existence of the state. Over time, …

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Last week, around the one-year anniversary of the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, Iran announced it would restart a portion of its halted nuclear program. The Trump administration responded by announcing “new” sanctions. 

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In the face of another murderous attack on a U.S. synagogue, Jewish Americans are again reeling. Six months after the slaughter of Shabbat worshipers in a peaceful community in Pittsburgh, our community was struck again. We are now mourning Lori Gilbert-Kaye, who was shot dead in her synagog…

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There are no words for the experience of commemorating the horrific death, together with Holocaust survivors, on the sacred grounds of the Birkenau extermination camp, where more than 1 million Jews were sent to the gas chambers and crematoriums just 75 years ago.

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In a free society like the one in which we are privileged to live, there is often a need to find a balance between individual freedom and public security. Our community got its first taste of that tension after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when bollards went up around Jewish institu…

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The April 26 cartoon in the New York Times International Edition showing a blind kippah-wearing President Trump being led by Prime Minister Netanyahu in the body of a dachshund seeing-eye dog was plainly anti-Semitic. That was really bad. And then, just three days later, as the Times was str…

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There are only two countries in the world that currently have a Jewish prime minister and a Jewish president. The fact that Israel is one is no surprise. But the fact that Ukraine is the other is a remarkable piece of news.  

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In coming out forcefully at a rally against the kind of anti-Semitism that appears to have motivated last Saturday’s deadly attack at Chabad of Poway outside San Diego, President Donald Trump did the right thing. And the president further demonstrated sensitivity in the aftermath by speaking…

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Do we need a Congressional Jewish Caucus, a group of Jewish legislators in the House and Senate who meet to discuss issues of importance to American Jews? 

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At Passover, Jews mark the beginning of the journey. On Friday, the seventh day of the holiday, we read Shirat Hayam and reenact the crossing of the Reed Sea. This iconic moment, after the Exodus from Egypt with Pharaoh’s forces on one side and the raging sea on the other, is the moment of t…

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