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Blog

Remembering Our Obligation to Refugees

As members of a people of chronic refugees, perpetually seeking new homes as strangers in new lands, we must identify with refugees, we mustn’t let atrocities take place in our names, and we must push back and speak out. We shouldn’t require the lens of hindsight to see that.

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Aryeh BallabanComment
Making Order of Our World's Chaos (Temple Beth Or)

Though I don’t take the Bible’s account of creation literally—recognizing biblical metaphors for the literary flourishes they are is a Jewish tradition dating back centuries—I’d have to be a fool to miss the beau-ty of this story, which can be uncovered by accurately understanding the story as it was meant to be read. The Genesis story isn’t supposed to tell us that God made everything in the world on God’s own terms and that every piece of creation went “according to plan.” Instead, it suggests that even God, doing the most “basic,” Godly act—creating—faced obstacles. Our world wasn’t a tabula rasa, ready for God to project everything onto it. Instead, God had to take the mess that filled our plane of existence and turn it into something resembling order.

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Aryeh BallabanComment
Sharing Our Calendar, Sharing Our Culture (Jewish Dayton Magazine, Q3, JCRC Article)

It is true: a major stumbling-block for interfaith efforts between Jews and non-Jews is that Jews often endure important events being scheduled on their holidays. No Jew should feel pressured to violate his or her religion as a price for engaging with the greater world; and, yet, when Jewish boys or girls, women or men, are pushed to perform work on their holidays lest they be educationally or professionally disadvantaged, our religious essence is put at odds with a secular reality.

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Aryeh BallabanComment
A Benediction, from the 2019 Ohio Governor's Holocaust Commemoration

From Prague to Poland, from Pittsburgh to Poway, our people has born enough suffering in one century for at least a millennium; enough in two millennia for an eternity. And yet we persist. We persist in the face of danger, we persist in the face of hate. We persist because that’s all we know how to do. Because it’s in our blood. Because our blood has been spilt to allow us to persist, and persisting is our only option.

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Fighting Hate at Home (Temple Beth Or)

However we each choose to respond to the KKK’s visit, this experience certainly constitutes a test of ourselves and our community. It is imperative that we make careful choices to keep ourselves safe; Judaism values the preservation of life above almost anything else. Simultaneously, though, this is a rare moment when our actions and choices very clearly lay bare our values. It is important that we show the world that the KKK may have chosen us, but we would never choose them.

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We Must Remember Their Names (Temple Beth Or)

I remain as devastated as ever as I grapple with the fact that dozens of innocent men, women, and children were needlessly slaughtered last month as they prayed in a mosque. Despite this massacre having happened on the other side of the world, there is a real pain that we all experience in our own homes here in Dayton. My heart still hurts, and I am still at a loss about how to respond. I know, though, that at the least, we must remember.

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Aryeh BallabanComment