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First day, second month Year two since leaving Egypt Intermission's done This week we begin the fourth of Moses's five books. But it's been just a little more than a year since our ancestors crossed the parted waters of the Sea of Reeds, and only one month since the Tabernacle was set up at the end of Exodus. Exodus 40:17:

In the first month of the second year, on the first day of the month, the Tabernacle was set up.

Numbers 1:1:

On the first day of the second month, in the second year following the exodus from the land of Egypt ...

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On the first day of Shavuot, we read in Exodus 19 that God declares to the Israelites assembled at the foot of Mount Sinai:

“If you obey Me faithfully and keep My covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all the peoples…. you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation… the people answered as one, saying, ‘All that God has spoken we will do.’”

To this very day, before reading the Torah, we bless God “who chose us from among all the nations.”

Yet Jews have always been somewhat...

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Today's North American Reform synagogues have increasingly begun to rethink and attempt to reinvigorate the contemporary practice of bar and bat mitzvah, a practice that may transform Reform Judaism in general. In many ways, these conversations are reminiscent of the emergence of confirmation at the beginning of the 19th century, a significant part of a broad effort to re-envision Judaism's well known adolescent rites-de-passage in communities throughout...

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This week marks the start of a new book of Torah: the Book of Numbers. This week’s portion, B’midbar, or “In the Wilderness,” recounts the census-taking of entire Israelite community commanded of Moses by God. The Israelites are sorted by tribe and all men over the age of 20 are counted, as God commands, “head by head,” with special instructions for the Levites.

We learn that the Israelites total 603,550 men over the age of 20, excluding the Levite tribe. Not only does the census have practical sensibilities,...

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Campers and staff at URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy, a Reform Jewish summer camp near Boston, connect with Israel in a unique way: through science and technology, of course! Israel is an epicenter of exploration and innovation, from the massive solar fields in the Negev Desert to the high-tech processes used to start up companies such as the Waze navigation app. Israel is a part of many aspects of our camp programming, from our Israeli staff members to the featured "Israeli Invention of the Day."

As the...

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