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Author: Josh Cooper

חוק היובל ?>

חוק היובל

Imagine if the Knesset passed “חוק היובל”. וְקִדַּשְׁתֶּם אֵת שְׁנַת הַחֲמִשִּׁים שָׁנָה וּקְרָאתֶם דְּרוֹר בָּאָרֶץ לְכָל יֹשְׁבֶיהָ “We commit after 50 years of settlements to release our attachment to land so that order can take hold. We love our land, but the Jubilee teaches us that owning it all is not an end unto itself. We sanctify this 50th year by promising peace, the holiest gift we can offer. We reach out to our Palestinian neighbors and hope that they will…

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Problems Before Solutions ?>

Problems Before Solutions

I recently volunteered at a workshop dedicated to helping people get back on track and find careers. The basic principle was “If you don’t know where you are trying to go, you won’t get there. If you can’t articulate what you want to accomplish, it will never get done.” In other words, only a clear vision and motivation can propel you forwards. I also recently attended a Breaking the Silence talk organized by Binny. Among other salient points[1], one that…

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Our Day in the Shomron ?>

Our Day in the Shomron

A strange coincidence of vacations gave Binny, Benzi, our friend Shevi, and me a day off for an adventure. We took a car to the Shomron/parts of Area C in the northern West Bank. Here’s what happened (in no particular order): We took our kippahs off when we went through mainly Palestinian areas out of concern for our safety. It felt a bit wrong: Are we generalizing too much about Palestinians? Am I giving up my religious identity for fear?…

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Having a State Matters ?>

Having a State Matters

Binny’s explanation of the word “Occupation” is an important step in discussing this conflict. In light of it, I want to point out one inherent wrong that goes hand-in-hand with the Occupation: Palestinians in the West Bank don’t have a state. I think we Israelis know this simple truth but don’t always acknowledge how unfair it is. I feel a little surge of pride every time I get to use my Israeli passport. I know that laws were designed with…

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Pesach, Purim, Yom HaAtzmaut, and Beer ?>

Pesach, Purim, Yom HaAtzmaut, and Beer

At the seder night, we spill some of our wine to commemorate Egyptian suffering [1]. Contrast this with the Purim seudah where even though the violence carried out against our non-Jewish neighbors was no less severe, the only wine spilt is by accident. This makes sense; Purim is about Hakarat HaTov and when all we are doing is expressing thanks for a miracle, there is no place for remorse. Pesach also has an element of Hakarat HaTov but it is…

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The Four Children ?>

The Four Children

The Haggadah speaks of four children. The wise child knows that she does not understand and that she needs to learn. “Teach me everything”, he demands, “because there must be more.” “What is the nature of the blockade on Gaza? What exactly went down at Camp David between Barak and Arafat? How many people were forced out of their homes in 1948?” The wise child will learn all she can from libraries and when that is not enough, she will…

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Our egalitarian minyan ?>

Our egalitarian minyan

I recently helped start an egalitarian minyan in my community in Israel so I was interested by Avi Woolf’s piece “Jewish Women: Bring on the Sexodus”, which expressed some reservations about the trend for equality in minyan. To start with some pointers to halakhic texts: Rabbi Joel Roth, Rabbi Ethan Tucker, Rabbi David Golinkin, and Rabbi Judith Hauptman have all written or spoken on the subject. The main argument boils down to whether a woman has the same obligation in…

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Please Stop Calling Me Radical ?>

Please Stop Calling Me Radical

On Friday, as I have for the last few weeks, I put on my green Meretz shirt and campaigned for the cause. Someone stopped me in the mall on my way home and said, “Tagid, lo higzamta?” (translation: Haven’t you gone overboard?). My friend and I often campaign together and we’ve heard similar reactions from others, including: “How much are they paying you?” “I see you’re not just ‘proud’ of being leftist.” (This was a pun that was meant to…

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