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On the plane back from my year in Israel as part of my first year of rabbinical school, I had the privilege of sitting next to a man who had participated in a Christian mission trip in Israel. It was a pleasure sharing with him my journey that led me to rabbinical school, a conversation he might have never had before. I also got to enjoy a different perspective on seeing Israel for the first time, as I had no previous knowledge of how a Christian mission trip to Israel works. But before he said "God bless" and dozed off for the nine hour flight, he made a comment to me about how the...

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If a feel-good book about cancer sounds like an oxymoron, just pick up a copy of New Beginnings: The Triumphs of 120 Cancer Survivors by Bill Aron (Skyhorse Publishing), a tour de force from one of America’s most accomplished photographers.

Aron is best known for eye-catching and heart-winning photographs that focus on the Jewish experience in America, ranging from the Lower East Side to the more surprising stretches of the Deep South. Shalom Y’all, for example, offers a rare glimpse of Jewish...

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The Mi Shebeirach, a Jewish prayer for healing, has been set to music by several contemporary Jewish musicians, including the late Debbie Friedman. Her interpretation – just two short stanzas – is both poetic and powerful, asking God to help those in need of physical or spiritual healing.

I like the Mi Shebeirach because it allows me to offer help to those in need when I cannot be with them physically – or help them emotionally or financially. Reciting the Mi Shebeirach allows me to...

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An angel of God Seen by the talking donkey But not by Balaam             Torah stories don't get much stranger than this week's tale of Balak, King of Moab, who calls upon Balaam, a non-Jewish prophet, to curse the Israelites. This one includes a talking donkey, a prophet unable to see an angel of God, and a blessing where a curse was requested.   God tells Balaam not to go with Balak (Num. 22:12), but the prophet asks again. God relents, but with the warning that "whatever I command you, that you shall do." (Num. 22:20), and we are told "God was incensed at his... Read More

Every year on the Fourth of July, my mother and stepfather host about 50 people, newborns to retirees, at a multigenerational backyard party at their home in suburban New Jersey. We schmooze around the grill, cool off in the pool or with a beer, and shuck corn on the cob. My sister Barrie makes an American flag berry cake, and my sister Cheryl makes a cake that looks like a hamburger. Fireworks light the night sky. It’s all typical Independence Day stuff.

But we also do something unique that I wish were more universal: We mindfully read aloud the...

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