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I’ve come to the conclusion that we’re all from families with some level of dysfunction. It’s a human thing. It’s healthy. Look at the founders of Judaism: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses. They all came from dysfunctional families and had dysfunctional families. And look how they turned out. Where else would we learn to cope with all the mishegas (Yiddish: craziness) in our lives? I recently saw This is Where I Leave You, directed by Shawn Levy, and based on the best-selling novel by Jonathan Tropper, featuring Jason Bateman (Arrested Development), Tina Fey (30 Rock), and Jane Fonda (...

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Turning on the news, it seems like all that anyone is talking about these days is the Ebola virus. From the news, to our offices, to our conversations amongst friends, we’ve been hearing every day about what symptoms to look for, how to safeguard against it, and how far it might spread. One American man has already died in Dallas, and two are in treatment in Atlanta and Bethesda. To be sure, it’s a deadly, scary disease, and our world community should be treating this outbreak with extreme caution.

Amidst the fear of an outbreak...

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With a borscht-curdling geshrei (shout), Halloween this year falls on Shabbat. On a Friday night, trick-or-treaters, even Jewish ones, will be knocking.

Should we open the door? Or should we be spooked about joining the celebration?

After reading that on Oct. 31, Urban Adamah, a Jewish-oriented educational farm and community center in Berkeley, Calif., would be holding a “Challahween Kabbalat Shabbat” - chanting and meditation plus a potluck dinner and Halloween dessert candy bar - I...

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As a young girl, I was very compliant. If I was told to do something, I generally did it; if I was told not to do something, I usually didn’t. Of course, there were exceptions – ah, the motorcycle ride – but I think of myself as a rule follower. On occasion, I may take on a leadership role to change the rules, but I generally don’t like to break them.

I was somewhat surprised, therefore, to find myself bent over, my head in the ark of an old synagogue in Kolin, Czech Republic. Around me, a tour guide and others were yelling at me in a variety of languages, including German:

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My mother-in-law, Bette Jo, has been an active member of her synagogue for years, and some of her closest friends are those she met participating in her temple sisterhood. These are the women whose kids grew up alongside my husband and his brothers, and who jumped at the chance to throw me a fantastic bridal shower when I married Kenny. Several of them made the trek to Los Angeles to celebrate our nuptials with us, and a couple even acted as official witnesses during our ketubah (marriage contract) signing ceremony. Over the years, some of Bette Jo’s sisterhood friends and I have connected...

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