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Jacob Kraus

Jaramana Palestinian Refugee Camp, Syria

This is the fourth in a series of posts outlining some of the core issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and the Reform Movement’s positions on these issues. Click here to read the introduction to the series, click here for a post on Israel’s security needs, click here for a post on borders and click here for a post on Jerusalem.

The status of Palestinian refugees has long been central to negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. As perspectives on the issue are deeply tied to each party’s understanding of history, and their emotional attachment to the land, a...

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A Passover Seder Table

One of my favorite things about my family’s Passover Seder is the charoset selection. For as long as I can remember, my father has prepared different varieties of this seder plate staple. Charoset is meant to symbolize the mortar used by the Israelites when they were slaves, but tastes sweet, like the freedom we now enjoy. This year, in addition to the apple, nut and wine-based Ashkenazi charoset, traditional to my ancestors in Eastern Europe, we had Egyptian charoset made mainly from dates, a spicy Persian Charoset and mango and coconut charoset balls of Cuban origin.

On Passover...

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U.S. Soldiers Lead a Detainee through the Prison at Guantanamo Bay

In the book of Deuteronomy, we find one of the best-known social justice texts in our tradition: “Tzedek, tzedek tirdof,” “Justice, justice shall you pursue” (16:20). This famous verse leaves room for broad interpretation of how to actually engage in the pursuit of justice, but two verses before, we see one specific command that can guide us: “You shall appoint judges and officers in all of your gates, which God has given you, tribe by tribe; and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment” (Deuteronomy 16:18). Mishpat-tzedek, or righteous judgment, is an important component of any...

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A Stained-Glass Star of David

After living in Israel for a year with my family, I imagine that we came back with a number of souvenirs. Nearly sixteen years later, though, the only one that I distinctly remember is a bumper sticker that we affixed to our family car. It had a multicolor Jewish star on it and said (in Hebrew and English): “Yesh yoter mi derech echad l’hiyot Yehudi” – “There is more than one way to be Jewish.”

This simple statement, one that seems second-nature to many of us here in North America, has long been the clarion call of those working for religious pluralism in Israel. Now, after years...

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Worshipers at the Western Wall

A few months ago, we joined in celebration as the Israeli Government voted in favor of a historic compromise to create an egalitarian plaza at the Western Wall. We rejoiced that a Kotel where all forms of Jewish observance would be recognized seemed to be on the horizon. However, as the ink has dried on the agreement, implementation of the plan has faced numerous roadblocks as leaders in the ultra-Orthodox community and the government have increased the volume of their opposition.

Early in March, Religious Services Minister David Azoulay vowed not to sign the agreement, blocking...

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