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The Jewish Chronicle in London (the leading Jewish newspaper in the UK) had an unusual front page last week. Atop the page was a bold banner headline: “To all our fellow British citizens,” followed by a sub-headline which read “This front page is addressed not to our usual readers — but to t…

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The depth of the Tree of Life tragedy hit home immediately. I knew within minutes that morning I would know some of the victims, having been to the synagogue for events for over 20 years and knowing friends who belonged to three congregations. I spent that week with as many of the victims’ f…

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For 50 years, Sh’ma was a journal that asked questions and promoted discussion about Judaism and the Jewish world, exploring ideas that challenged conventional, mainstream Jewish thinking. When it was announced last week that the next issue of the publication — which migrated in recent years…

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What has been marketed as a “rebranding” of the 90-year old Jewish Agency for Israel is more than the cosmetic change than the word suggests. At its board of governors meeting in Jerusalem last week, the venerable quasi-governmental body adopted a new focus and direction, but not a name change. 

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I have been the rabbi of the New Light Congregation in Pittsburgh for nine years. This year, at Kol Nidre services on Yom Kippur, I preached about calm.

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When Israel’s Kachol-Lavan party leader Benny Gantz, a former IDF chief of staff but a political “newbie,” accepted the mandate to form the next government in Israel, he was lauded for “looking prime ministerial” and touted by elements of the media as a refreshing change from Prime Minister …

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Jews in America are afraid. Or at least they’re profoundly anxious about their security. Whereas stories of Jew-hatred and anti-Semitic violence were once upsetting memories of a distant past, today’s reality seems to be that American exceptionalism hasn’t snuffed out anti-Semitism. And in t…

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The deaths last week of two prominent men — with very different backgrounds, career paths and areas of involvement and interest — were a significant loss to our local, national and international communities. 

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We continue to search for the direction and focus of the Trump administration’s policy objectives and goals in Syria. Up until the beginning of this month, we thought we understood things — opposition to the Assad regime’s brutality and use of chemical weapons, the defeat of ISIS, al-Qaida a…

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Bernie Madoff is certainly the most infamous of the residents at North Carolina’s Butner Federal Correctional Facility, but, scanning the congregation at the outset of the Kol Nidre service, we realized that he likely wouldn’t be making it to minyan this year. This elicits an audible sigh of…

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Like many members of the Jewish community in Arizona and around the world, to observe the High Holidays meant walking by police officers at the entrance of synagogues and temples. That is a reality and necessity facing Jews locally and globally.

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Ten years ago, the Bridgestone Group, a nonprofit consulting firm, conducted a survey of nonprofits, and found that many  were operating without sufficient infrastructure. They found that many of the organizations had “nonfunctioning computers, staff members who lacked the training needed fo…

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I always believed I could do anything. I was an outspoken social activist from five generations of activists. My favorite quote is “Well-behaved women rarely make history,” and I have eight acts of civil disobedience on my record to prove it.

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The Kurds, who are the abused stepchildren of the Middle East, have been abandoned, once again, by an erstwhile ally — and this time, it is us.  

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There are a number of Jewish organizations around the country that focus their effort on pure Jewish engagement. They strive to help unaffiliated Jews identify with Judaism and find comfort with their Jewishness. They aren’t membership organizations, and don’t seek to enhance religious obser…

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We wish Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) a full recovery from his heart attack last week. Remaining true to the relentless pursuit of his campaign themes, the 78-year-old tried to turn his sudden medical emergency into a plug for his Medicare-for-all policy. 

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I grew up in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, but it might as well have been Minsk, Belarus. Every day, after my father left for work in the city, Mom shrugged off her English, as if it were an itchy sweater, and slipped back into Yiddish. Not to speak with me, but to engage in marathon phone conver…

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In 2015, sculptor Jonathan Hertzel, a Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts graduate whose work is in PAFA’s permanent collection, moved with his wife, Linda Guenste, from the Philadelphia suburbs to Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

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With its win of 13 Knesset seats, the Arab-led Joint List doubled its size in September’s parliamentary election and became Israel’s third largest party. This represents a significant breakthrough for Israel’s 2 million-strong Arab minority, and could presage the blossoming of a new 21st-cen…

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Last last month, the United Nations issued a report on anti-Semitism that was characterized in the press as “unprecedented.” Titled “Combatting Antisemitism to Eliminate Discrimination and Intolerance Based on Religion or Belief,” the report was authored by Ahmed Shaheed, U.N. Special Rappor…

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On Aug. 28, Greta Thunberg, the teen Swedish climate activist, climbed off her zero-emissions boat with a glint in her eye. She had traveled across the world to deliver a message to the UN General Assembly. Her journey had led her to speak in, arguably, the most consequential hall in the wor…

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The one thing we know for sure about last week’s Knesset elections is that, at least as of press time, no one knows the final configuration of Israel’s next governing coalition. But that doesn’t stop anyone from prognosticating about it in reaction to an Israeli electorate that has created a…

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Try as some politicians might to make the current Israeli election about rifts between secular and religious Israelis, both the April and September polls were about a single issue: whether or not Benjamin Netanyahu will continue to serve as Israel’s prime minister.

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Recently I visited my daughter, who is working for the year in Rwanda. For most people, if they have heard of Rwanda at all, it is due to the genocide that took place just a quarter century ago. Our visit was focused on my daughter and the country today, not the genocide, but the genocide is…

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Just ahead of this week’s elections in Israel, two personnel moves within the Trump administration raised concerns about possible effects of those developments on the “bromance” between President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.   

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The fact that Jewish children were victims of sexual abuse during the Holocaust does not come as a surprise to anyone, simply because during wartime we expect unspeakable crimes to be committed against society’s most defenseless. Yet the problem remains today; Jewish children continue to be …

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The third time appears to have been the charm, as the Democratic Party was finally one of the winners in the continuing marathon of prime time debates among candidates for the Democratic nomination for president. That result came none too soon. Party faithful were beginning to question the w…

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Almost two decades into the 21st century, few people — and they’re getting fewer with each passing day — deny that the scourge of anti-Semitism we so triumphantly relegated to the pages of the 20th century has reared its ugly head once more.

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Ever determined to get his wall, which he repeatedly promised that Mexico would pay for, President Donald Trump has decided to “redirect” $3.6 billion from the Defense Department budget in order to build 170 miles of his “magnificent” border wall. That breaks down to $21 million and change p…

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Even more than Jerusalem, the city of Hebron, 17 miles to the south on the West Bank, is a captive of its history, to the detriment of many of its residents and to Israeli-Palestinian peace. To friends of Israel, the story of Hebron began when the patriarch Abraham purchased the Cave of Mach…

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Earlier this year, my wife attended a program on Jewish education. The presenter made a seemingly harmless joke: “A couple stopped having children after their fourth, because they read a study that said that every fifth child born in America is Asian.”

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According to the Republican Party in New York’s upstate Rockland County, a storm is brewing. In a Facebook video, with ominous music to set the mood, the GOP warned that “they” will “change our life.”

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Is it possible to overcome one’s sense of outrage and trauma in order to empathize with the suffering of another? And what if the “other” is not your friend, and may even have been complicit in bringing you pain? These are just two of the questions the new HBO series “Our Boys” presents to I…

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Last week the Trump administration proposed an expansion of the exemption that allows federal contractors who claim to be acting under principles of religious practice to hire and fire employees based upon their religious beliefs. The proposed regulation has generated significant comment fro…

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Last week President Donald Trump bemoaned the state of the Democratic Party, saying, “I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.” Given that roughly 80% of the Jewish population votes Democrat, the remark quickly…

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As an Ashkenazi Jew, I grew up with an inherent nostalgia for an Eastern European diet. It was not that long ago that our grandparents and great-grandparents wrestled with starvation, migration, the Holocaust. And heavy, hearty fare sometimes meant the difference between life and death. We c…

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It’s hard to take Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas seriously. And he hasn’t done much in the past several years to convince anyone that he deserves different treatment. Yet political leaders from around the world who visit Israel regularly meet with him to pay appropriate respect to the t…

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Finding the proper balance between politics and policy can be difficult. But for seasoned politicians, it is usually second nature. Except when it isn’t. That’s what played out last week when Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his administration bumbled, stumbled and fumbled th…

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I travelled to Israel alone this past spring as part of my sabbatical. My goal was to meet with organizations and leaders modeling collaboration between peoples otherwise cast in conflict. I came to experience a different, more hopeful reality between Israeli Jews and Palestinians, one we’re…

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What is it going to take for President Donald Trump to recognize the need for reasonable gun control policies and to say the words and take the actions necessary for appropriate federal legislation to be enacted? And why is he having such difficulty serving as the “comforter in chief” when a…

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