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Honorable Mensch-ion

Whose Story Will You Tell?


We are in the midst of the nine days of Av, as we approach the saddest day of the Jewish calendar, Tisha B’Av. On Wednesday evening, we will sit on the floor of Kohn Chapel in darkness, reciting the entire book of Lamentations.

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How Do We Travel?


I miss the AAA TripTik. When I was in 4th grade, each student chose a place in the United States they wished to travel to. My sister was a freshman at Brandeis University, so I chose Boston. I went to AAA, they handed me a map, and I highlighted the must-see landmarks: Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride, the Boston Tea Party ship, Fenway Park, Faneuil Hall, and more. I prepared myself to know what I would see. When I experienced those places, they were much more than stops on an itinerary. Each stop had a deeper meaning, for its past history and what it meant to me as a young American.

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Rabbis and Israel


As you enter the Knesset, Israel’s parliament building, you pass a replica of the Declaration of Independence. The first line states, “We hereby declare the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Yisrael.”

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Alma Matters


Do you recall the words to your high school alma mater? While I cannot recite all of the lyrics of mine, I do remember the concluding verse, “As we go on through the years, friendships hold whether far or near, as we sing, “Manner makyth man.”

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Power


In the new book, Reorganized Religion, veteran religion writer Bob Smietana analyzes the seismic shifts in religious disaffiliation in America: Synagogues and churches closing and merging, a larger category of “nones,” those who call themselves spiritual yet proudly declare their independence of connection to a religious community. Last week, in The Wall Street Journal, the report was more enthusiastic, as Clare Ansberry described the uptick in young professionals desire for organized religion and sacred community.

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Balance


A philosophical question: Is it harder to wait for the beginning or the end? Was it more difficult to wait for your first bite of matzah than for your first bite of chametz last night?

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Mah Nishtana


Rabbi Nachman in the Talmud once asked his servant, “What should a servant do if his master not only frees him, but rewards him with great wealth?” The servant replied, “He should thank him and praise him.” Rabbi Nachman thought for a moment and said, “You have exempted us from singing the Mah Nishtana, the Four Questions.”

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