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Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a festival that records a group of settlers in America surviving a very brutal winter. Some argue that these settlers brought tremendous suffering to the indigenous peoples, and therefore this celebration should now be banned. I argue that, even so, Thanksgiving can still offer an important message and should not be scrapped. Last month Columbus Day was the…

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Rabbi Mickey Rosen

This week is the secular date of my younger brother’s death. Sibling rivalry goes all the way back to Cain and Abel. As a two-year-old, I resented the arrival of my brother Michael, Mickey, as a rival for our parents’ love. Now, Mickey turned out to be such a goodnatured, honest child that the only way I felt I could…

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Italian Talmud

The Talmud is the most defining text of Judaism as it is today—in a way, even more so than the Bible, even though without the Bible there would be no Talmud. The Bible is shared with Christianity and, in a very indirect way, with Islam. In the case of Christianity, the Old Testament has been superseded by the New. Although…

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From Martin Luther to Arthur Balfour

Many Christians celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation on October 31. In 1517 the Augustinian monk Martin Luther (1483-1546) posted his 95 theses in opposition to the abuses of the Catholic Church on the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, which ultimately led to the split between the Catholic and Protestant churches. Luther objected initially to what he saw as the…

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Toby

In my youth, school teachers were divided into two categories: non-Jewish, who were invariably competent and well trained, though often boring; and Jewish, who were mainly refugees or misfits who had found their way into education by accident or necessity. They were either terrible or inspirational (sometimes both). Amongst the latter was one man I am indebted to for giving…

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Eve and Cain 

We have started the annual cycle of reading the Torah. Every year I come to a familiar, beloved text and invariably see something new. The Bible can be read, sung, looked at numerically, literarily, mystically, and academically. In our cultural world we tend to focus on reading a text and we ignore the sounds of the words and the way…

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