Amanda Gorman’s faith meets Esther’s courage to commemorate a Purim story of resilience

By Student Rabbi Caitlin Brazner

Barely one month ago, this country exercised one of its more profound and significant rituals: the peaceful transfer of power from one political leader to the next.

The inauguration of a new president is a shining example of democratic excellence and a testament to our nation’s devotion to the groundbreaking ideals enshrined in our Constitution.

This year’s Inauguration Day proved no exception. Though threatened two weeks earlier by insurrectionist violence at the Capitol, the peaceful events of Jan. 20, 2021, affirmed Americans’ unflagging commitment to our democratic ideals.

Among the many fine speakers at the inauguration, one in particular stood out — 22-year-old Amanda Gorman.

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Just in time, Tu B’Shevat turns our attention to renewal and the possibility of something better

By Student Rabbi Caitlin Brazner

January is a time for new beginnings and fresh starts. As the calendar rolls over on our secular New Year, friends and family gather (admittedly, virtually this year) to celebrate and look forward in anticipation to what will be in the year to come.

We set new goals for ourselves, new intentions and resolutions. It is a time of hope and possibilities.

January is also a time for reflection. We think back over the last year and remember all that we’ve done and not done. We grapple with regrets; we remember those we’ve lost. While it may be a time for looking forward, so often we find ourselves looking backward as the New Year approaches.

This year is no different, although it has certainly been a hard one. We as a nation have faced bitter political disagreements, a virulent pandemic, wildfires and hurricanes. Our world has felt chaotic, out-of-order, overwhelming.

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Hanukkah reminds us to seek light, and unity, in moments of darkness

By Student Rabbi Caitlin Brazner

As winter approaches and 2020 (finally) nears its end, it’s hard not to think back and reflect on what’s been. After a year of divisive and polarizing politics, racial unrest and injustice, and a global pandemic that continues to ravage our country (among other issues), I can’t help but think that our season of darkness began much sooner.

This year hasn’t been easy. We feel divided and disillusioned, disappointed and disheartened.

We are entering a holiday season that many of us, due to COVID restrictions, will be forced to spend socially distanced, if not alone. We have spent endless months grappling with big questions and big challenges; that wrestling has left us tired.

And yet, at the darkest (in daylight terms) time of year, our tradition calls for the lighting of candles in celebration of a miracle — a flame that lasted against all odds and provided light when we needed it most.

Hanukkah is a story of hope and renewal, of light and warmth for these coming cold nights.

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Caitlin Brazner brings impressive resume to student rabbi post at UHC

As a fourth-year rabbinical and education student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio, Caitlin Brazner arrives for her student rabbi assignment at UHC with a strong resume.

Caitlin officiated her first virtual Shabbat service as UHC student rabbi on Nov. 6, following previous posts at Temple B’nai Israel in Kokomo, Indiana; Temple Israel in Paducah, Ky.; and Temple B’nai Israel in Parkersburg, W. Va.

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