"Or Shalom, Vancouver's East-Side Shul, the synagogue I serve as spiritual leader, is a community of 200 households that has raised funds and the volunteer enthusiasm to sponsor four refugee families, including eight children. Three Kurdish Syrian families remain in harms way in Turkey and Northern Iraq, but one family, an LGBT couple from Iraq, has finally, finally arrived after a long journey from Beirut to Cairo to Toronto to Vancouver...."
"...We seem to be living in a moment that is particularly fraught. Within the Jewish community, leaders who have steered the Jewish community for decades are currently engaged in the game of declaring who is ‘in’ and who is ‘out.’ They have done so without speaking to the generations rising up behind them who have a different relationship with and greater access to information about Israel. They have done so, without speaking to them and understanding their relationships with non-Jews.
"...The other day, I walked to Barnes and Noble at CitiCenter, and was sad to see that, like many brick-and-mortar bookstores, it had closed. And I walked away, wistful, I wondered why I feel so invested in bookstores, especially because I read most news articles on my phone and love Amazon Prime. What is it about aimlessly wandering through a bookstore that feels so good?..."
Rabbis Without Borders Fellow Sandra Lawson has been chosen as one of the JTA's "10 Jews You Should Follow on Snapchat". Sandra, a rabbinical student, spends much of her time explaining weekly Torah portions and demystifying Judaism, as well as encouraging followers to snap her with questions about religious practice.
"...[Rabbi] Sirbu said she once taught a class called “Death, Dine and the Afterlife”* in a Panera restaurant in West Orange, N.J. She said the class was so popular that about 20 non-Jews joined those who were already attending. She said other rabbis are also doing more pop-up Shabbat services and dinners aimed at Jews of all ages....
"...Our time in North Carolina gave me and my family the opportunity to connect with the simple, beautiful, inspirational natural world – an opportunity that our daily obligations and routines often keep us from embracing. My family and I needed this connection – this time to enjoy and absorb our surroundings and, in turn, recharge ourselves...."
"...We're a family of educators. Through our work, we provide access to educational services, social networks, and empowering ideologies for marginalized groups. We raise awareness about discrimination in hiring, social services and health care allocations. We spread an inclusive social vision.
And yet. Most days we feel we make little difference. Because we're part of a system that keeps generating inequality...."
"...At a time when it is easy to be discouraged by the violence and divisiveness in our country, I became filled with hope listening to these kids. They not only understand the connections between the age-old Jewish wisdom of our texts and values, but they feel it in their core. Camp empowers our children to be themselves and to celebrate who they are. The sound of that hate-filled voice became drowned out by these kids finding their own voices and claiming their faith for themselves...."
"...Of course, the comforting idea that certain times are ‘supposed’ to be happy isn't always the world's way. Real life rarely follows our schedules. When life feels cold and hard when we expect it to be warm and soft, we're prone to feel doubly hurt – once by actual events, and again by how distant those events feel from what we expect. Expectations can end up hurting more than they help...."
"There is an African tradition that teaches when a person says “Hi” to a neighbor, instead of returning the salutation with the same “Hi,” the neighbor is to respond, “I see you.” How incredibly wise. We pass each other by and so often simply offer perfunctory words of greeting. But as human beings, perhaps, more than anything, we just want to be seen and heard and understood. This African tradition reminds us that we have to intentionally pause and acknowledge and see from a layer underneath.