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Growing up the child of a Jew-by-choice, everything about Judaism was a choice for us. For my mother, Judaism was a gift. She felt very proud to count herself among the Jewish people. She felt blessed to have the opportunity to do Jewish things. And she felt great joy in being able to give me Jewish experiences. To this day, she calls Jewish overnight camp “the best investment I ever made.”

In our home, I don’t ever remember hearing the words “have to” when it came to Judaism. I only remember hearing “get to.” We get to light Shabbat candles. We get to go to synagogue. We get to...

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We live in a world in which we are constantly overworked, overtired, and overstressed, leaving us with the feeling that we have so much to accomplish and not enough time to do it all. Often, we come home after a long day at work only to discover that there is more to do at home: bills to pay, budgets to balance, groceries to buy, dishwashers to empty, laundry to fold, and more. In fact, our to-do lists at home often are as long as our to-do lists in the office. And yet, this is the cycle of our lives ― a constant whirlwind of obligations and demands for our time and attention at every turn...

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How did your parents meet?

As a religious school teacher at a Reform Jewish synagogue, each year I ask my sixth-grade students to think about their parents, or any two people they know who are happily married. How did those people become a couple?

Over the years, I've heard wonderful stories about blind dates and pool parties, about fender-benders that led to dinner and people who were expected fall for one person and ended up with someone entirely different. But my favorite story came from a boy whose parents – I'll call them Jackie and Scott – met while they were each...

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Going into summer 2013, I knew that it would be my last summer at URJ Camp George, a Reform Jewish summer camp in Ontario, Canada - at least for a little while. That May, I had taken the steps to make aliyah (move to Israel) and join the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). What would make a born-and-raised Canadian decide to leave the comfort of his home, friends, and family to go it alone in Israel - and in the army, no less? Actually, my time at Jewish summer camp prepared me well for this journey.

Two significant factors prompted my decision to draft into the IDF. The first is family....

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When my son Sammy was in preschool, Shabbat was magical. On Friday afternoons, he and I baked challah together. In the evenings, we gathered as a family, sat at a nicely set table, and said the prayers. Following the blessing for boys, my husband and I each whispered a special message in Sammy’s ear, and we shared with each other our favorite part of the week.

But Sammy is now 10, and as he has gotten older, our lives have become busier with work and after-school activities – and Shabbat has lost some of its glow.

Our once carefully set table now looks like the same one we...

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