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Here are two prayers after an earthquake struck Italy today: one for the people and one for first responders. They were originally written days after an earthquake hit Haiti in January 2010. I’ve also used elements of them in prayers after earthquakes in Turkey, New Zealand and Japan.

In Devastation – Prayer for the People of Italy

God beyond my understanding, The earth has turned violent, Sweeping our brothers and sisters off their feet, Crushing homes and lives, Upending dreams, Toppling the foundations of hope and sustenance. A shallow breath beneath the rubble And wailing in...

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It began as many new relationships do: I was curious but tentative. How would this new entity fit into my life? Did I really need it? Could I make room for it in my over-stuffed brain and on my increasingly crowded bookshelves?

I received The Torah: A Women’s Commentary as a gift during my fourth year of rabbinical school at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR). My professor, Dr. Andrea Weiss, was one of its editors. Dr. Weiss was thrilled to share this project – into which so much love, care, and scholarship had been poured – with me and my fellow classmates...

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Modeh Ani, meaning “I give thanks,” is a morning prayer traditionally sung or recited by Jews before rising from bed. It offers thanks to God for restoring a person’s soul when he or she awakens. The prayer highlights God's mercy and trust in giving a soul back to a person to greet a new day, because Jewish tradition teaches that a soul departs from a person during sleep and returns in the morning.

Modeh Ani encourages me to recall entering a sacred covenant with God and to recall God’s trust in choosing me to help mend our broken world amidst the chaos of a new day. When my “soul...

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What does it mean to lead a Torah study? When we sit with congregants, friends, are guests in different communities, what is it we are doing when we are given the honor to lead a Torah study? There is something quite amazing that we are doing – we are framing the message for this group. For that short moment in time that we are asked to lead, we are transmitting a concept, idea, ideal or moral teaching that we believe the group needs to hear. It is a truly powerful moment and the texts, commentaries, works that we bring to the table also convey the message of what our values are or what...

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The white steeples of Protestant churches mark the villages in my hilly New England landscape, and the people I meet daily are white Christians. I ground myself in my religion by attending Congregation Beth David, a small Reform synagogue of some 60 seats, built in 1929.

But it troubles me that I live in a socially segregated community, an all-too-common situation in America, depriving us of those regular ongoing relationships that prevent suspicions and prejudice toward anyone different from us. For me, reaching out to a community of Muslims means traveling more than an hour to...

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