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"Hamilton" meets the Torah

Parashat Chukat - Our Peacemaking Founding Fathers July 15th, 2016 Alli Cohen [Sung] "Look around, look around, at how lucky we are to be alive right now. Look around, look around"  (Miranda). These lyrics are from the Tony award-winning musical, Hamilton , which tells the story of America’s less-acknowledged founding father, Alexander Hamilton, during the time of the Revolutionary War. These words are sung as a reminder to be thankful for each day and as a reminder to make the most of each day. I felt they were appropriate for today, at a time when we are more keenly aware of life’s fragility and of our own mortality.  How do we memorialize so many individuals who have been killed? How do we pay homage to their lives? This week’s Torah portion may provide some answers for us, as we learn of Aaron’s death. In the Torah we learn that all of the house of Israel mourned the death of their leader Aaron. In one commentary, by Rabbi Joseph Herman He
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Prayer and Action June 17th, 2016 Temple Sholom - Cincinnati, OH Rabbinic Intern Alli Cohen There is no easy way to say it: Last week on June 8 th , a Palestinian gunman killed 4 Israelis and wounded 5 people at Sarona Market in Tel Aviv. Then, on Sunday, June 12 th , 49 people were killed at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, targeting the LGBTQ community. “Pulse describes itself as ‘the hottest gay bar’ in the heart of Orlando. Hours before the shooting, the club urged partygoers to attend its ‘Latin flavor’ event Saturday night. The club is a vast, open space that was hosting more than 300 patrons late Saturday and into Sunday morning" (Ellis, et al).   And there are still 53 people wounded, some still fighting for their lives. The gunmen wielded “an assault-type rifle and a handgun,” making this shooting “the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history” (Schneider). And to add to this list, tonight is exactly one year since the Charleston church shoo

Dear G-d

Dear G-d,            I write you once more just like I did when I first arrived in Israel in June of 2012. So much has happened since then, both to me and to Israel. I arrived with mixed emotions for my first year of rabbinical school at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion. I expected to feel like an insider in what was so commonly called my “homeland”.            I recalled my rabbi’s words, “ כל התחלות קשות (Kol hatchalot kashot); All beginnings are difficult" (Rabbi Don Rossoff). I expected a challenging journey but had no idea what experiences would lie ahead, testing my beliefs as a Reform Jew.                                                                 I had heard about the organization Women of the Wall whose “central mission is to achieve the social and legal recognition of [their] right, as women, to wear prayer shawls, pray and read from the Torah collectively and out loud at the Western Wall” in Jerusalem (Mission Statement 1). In Jun