Guided by mentors, Caitlin Brazner prepares to carry the flame forward, l’dor vador

By Student Rabbi Caitlin Brazner

My journey to rabbinical school began with a meaningful conversation with my mentor, Rabbi Educator Vicki L. Tuckman, zichrona livracha.

After a great day working alongside Vicki at URJ Camp Harlam, a Jewish summer camp in Kunkletown, Pa., we found ourselves sitting on her cabin porch around midnight as the stars rose over the Mahoning Valley.

I still remember her exact words: “You’re going to be a rabbi — you just don’t know it yet.”

I laughed it off; a well-intentioned but incorrect prediction, I thought.

Eight years later, as I wrap up my fourth year of rabbinical school, it would seem an “I told you so” may be in order.

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Don’t be like Aaron’s sons: Get vaccinated, mask up around others and make good choices

By Betsy Frank

As we have learned in the Torah and recounted in our second virtual Passover celebration this year, God gave the Israelites many choices once they were free.

They also experienced the consequences of their choices.

While God forgave many bad choices, a few came with extreme consequences. For example, God destroyed Aaron’s sons by fire.

During this past year many of us have questioned the quality of our freedoms.

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Restored freedoms come with responsibility to protect our health and the health of others, writes Betsy Frank.

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Gather family memories while you can; take solace in silence; support ‘Covered with Love’

By Debra Israel

Recently, I’ve been thinking about memory and memories.

This past February marked 20 years since my father’s older sister, my Aunt Julie, passed away.

My father had died in 1990, and their younger sister, my Aunt Rebecca, is now the last surviving sibling.

I have my own wonderful memories of many special times with my aunts and my father, but I regret now that I didn’t ask them more questions about their lives growing up in New York City, about their experiences as children of immigrants, where their parents spoke a different language (Ladino) at home.

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As Israel turns 73, we mourn victims of war on Yom HaZikaron; celebrate on Yom Ha’atzmaut

By Student Rabbi Caitlin Brazner

This week, beginning at sundown Tuesday, April 13, Israelis observe the twin national holidays of Yom HaZikaron, the Day of Remembrance, and Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israeli Independence Day.

The largest and some of the most widely observed of Israel’s national holidays, Remembrance Day and Independence Day offer Israelis and indeed, Jews worldwide, an opportunity to reflect on the Jewish State and its importance in our lives.

Yom HaZikaron is a solemn day in Israel, memorializing Israeli soldiers who lost their lives fighting in the War of Independence and subsequent battles.

Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israeli Independence Day, follows on Thursday, April 14, as an altogether different affair.

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