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When I had my bar mitzvah two years ago, my parents wrote an inspiring message in the back of my prayer book, stressing the importance of remembering my Jewish roots and carrying on traditions important to our culture. One line in that message explained that I have a “responsibility...as one of the world’s few who have the power to help preserve what so many before [me] have built.”

My family and I belong to Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple in Beachwood, OH, where the “Men of Fairmount Temple” group runs a program for...

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Black and white photo from Yad Vashem showing 1940s Jews observing a seder in the ghetto

Have you ever noticed that when we teach the Holocaust, we let the perpetrators dictate the story for us? We use their pictures and their propaganda to tell our story, forgetting that their agenda was to dehumanize the Jews. We use their timeline, 1933 to 1945, as if their victims had no existence other than that the Nazis gave them.

We present the Jews as the eternal victims, helpless in the face of the oncoming force of Nazi hatred. We focus on the huge number of people lost: faceless, nameless bodies fed to the fires. By allowing the Nazis to tell our story, we have unwittingly...

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A row of lit votive candles

I wasn’t one of the six million who died in the Shoah, I wasn’t even among the survivors. And I wasn’t one of the six hundred thousand who went out of Egypt…

I was born in America 15 years after the Shoah to a mother and father born in America, whose parents were born in America. My great-grandparents immigrated to the U.S. well before the 1920’s quotas that restricted Jewish immigration from central and eastern Europe. I never heard any family stories about family left behind to suffer at the evil hands of the Nazis. But I knew of great-uncles who served in the...

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Torah with kippah and yad

Dear William: Since I don’t speak Spanish and, as an immigrant from Ecuador, you probably don’t speak much in the way of “Jewish worship,” I’ll do my best to explain this thing that happened on Saturday morning that you helped make possible. In the middle of Jewish worship services on the Sabbath and festivals – and on Mondays and Thursdays in more traditional congregations – Jews read from a Torah scroll, which contains the Five Books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The text is handwritten in Hebrew by a specially trained scribe on animal skin parchment and...

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Torah scrolls wrapped with pink fabric ties

In the lead-up to the Christian celebration of Easter, which took place on Sunday and overlapped with Passover, the Pew Research Center shared data about the way religious Americans view their holy texts. Here are highlights from the Jewish end of things:

  1. About a third of Americans (35%) say they read...
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