Longform


Once-in-a-Decade Revelations

Every year at Shavuot, Jewish communities all around the world celebrate the giving of Torah with raucous gatherings, enormous slabs of cheesecake, and Torah learning from dusk to dawn. Of the many fond memories I have of my time living in Jerusalem a decade ago, house-hopping throughout the night of Shavuot sits comfortably atop the list. I learned provocative, inspiring Torah from complete strangers, danced with folks from Haredi to Hiloni (strictly Orthodox to strictly secular), and emerged from my last learning session to feel the rising sun on my face while I prayed at the......

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Looking Evil In the Face, Boldly and Beautifully

“If there is only one book you are going to read….” is not something I say often, and something I don’t think should ever be said about a topic as important and as complicated as the Holocaust. I will say though, that anyone who cares about the topic, or any questions of evil and how we respond to it, really must read Faris Cassell’s new, and already award-winning book, The Unanswered Letter. I recently had the opportunity to talk with Faris about her work, which had already been awarded first place in......

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Night Words, A Midrash For The Holocaust

The Meaning of this Day, January 27, 2021 In 2005, the United Nations General Assembly designated January 27–the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau–as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On this annual day of commemoration, the UN urges the world community to honor the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and millions of other victims of Nazism. The theme guiding Holocaust remembrance in 2021 is Facing the Aftermath: Recovery and Reconstitution After The Holocaust. The never-ending process of recovery and reconstitution of individuals, communities, and systems of justice includes: accurately recording the......

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Now What?

Donald Trump is mentally ill and needs a constitutional straitjacket. He is hungry for adulation to compensate for a mind-blowing inner lack of self-worth -that even those of us most horrified by his venality have to feel a smidgeon of compassion for. His most violent followers – a minority of the 70+ million people who voted for him – rendered needy, powerless, and stripped of their dignity by serious societal stress – have through their adulating Trump felt powerful. The violence of last Wednesday and the violence of Trump’s administration is a......

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Reckoning or Reconciliation?  How About Both?

To impeach or not to impeach. That is the question. Or is it? Perhaps the more important question at this moment is not a question of what to do, but of why we do it. That has certainly been my approach, as I am asked if there are any spiritual or religious responses to the cresting chorus of those who are ready to explain the “right answer” to the question of impeachment — Focusing on the “why” more than the “what.” The question of whether or not the President should be impeached,......

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Writing, Thinking and Talking about Tragedy: A Conversation with Beth Kissileff

I sat down recently with Beth Kissileff, a TWD contributor who has a new book out — one reflecting how different people in Pittsburgh have processed, and continue to process the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue building, which occurred a little more than 2 years ago. Our conversation was about “more” than one terrible event, as you will see.  It’s not simple to write, think, or talk about tragedy, but this was an attempt to do just that.  We do not only, or even primarily, look back.  Instead, I hope......

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