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Young girl waving large Israeli flad on a pole

In early 1948, Israel’s founders gathered to decide on a national anthem for the new State. Psalm 126, which begins: “When God brought back those that returned to Zion, we were like dreamers,” was suggested as one option, as it describes the return of the Jewish people to their land, emphasizing the young State’s connection to the Bible, ancient Jewish history, and Jewish tradition.

Interpreters suggested that the verse views the return to the Land of Israel as a sudden miracle, like a person waking up from a bad dream to a better reality. Some noticed that the Hebrew root for the...

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A womans blurred face behind wet glass with her hand pressing up upon the glass

As we commemorate Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), it is important to think about and discuss these issues in context of Jewish text and our Jewish values. In Jewish text, there are many examples of sexual assault, including rape, as well as domestic abuse. These narratives highlight the reality that sexual violence has existed throughout history, sometimes paralleling cases we see in society today.

While there are multiple instances in Jewish text (the Levite’s concubine,...

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Open book showing a path leading off into a forest

There are few things I remember as well as the stories told to me by so many rabbis, cantors, educators, and teachers throughout my life. These stories about kings and queens, princes and princesses, merchants and buyers, angels and demons, young children and the very, very old – each of them characters with a purpose and a message – seemed like they were meant just for me.

But it turns out they weren’t just for me. These stories were always told with one goal in mind: to make those who were listening learn something new about their lives, and sometimes about their Jewish lives....

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Hand giving a peace sign and painted to match the Israeli flag which is waving in the background

Fifty is a number with immense significance in the Jewish tradition. Leviticus 25 teaches us that every 50 years we have a Jubilee year, when we release all slaves and return all ownership of all land. It is a radical commitment to freedom from slavery and oppression.

This year we mark the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War, and we are faced with a complex reality. Israel has grown into a strong and remarkable society. We have seen the growth of Jewish pluralism and the organized Reform Movement, which barely existed in Israel 50 years ago. We have seen leaps forward in the...

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Row of Israeli flags against background of blue sky and clouds

Only in Israel and nowhere else is the injunction to remember felt as a religious imperative to an entire people. -- Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi

On May 14, 1948, David Ben Gurion proclaimed the State of Israel into being. The short ceremony as Shabbat ensued changed Jewish history forever, returning Jewish sovereignty to the Land of Israel and giving the Jewish people a nation-state.

However, Ben Gurion did much more than create a Jewish state. He also seized this rare opportunity to invent a...

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