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Lee Bycel
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Lee Bycel is the rabbi of Congregation Beth Shalom in Napa and Adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco’s Swig Program in Jewish Studies and Social Justice.

Entries by Lee Bycel

The Failure of Humanity to Learn: Reflections on Visiting Auschwitz

(1) Comments | Posted June 28, 2015 | 12:22 AM

I felt compelled to go the epicenter of human brutality, murder and unimaginable degradation. I went there to bear witness to the innocent victims who perished by the hands of those who appeared in human bodies but lacked a heart, a soul, a conscience. As I walked the grounds of...

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Too Much Attention On the Sideshow in Oakland: Enough Is Enough!

(0) Comments | Posted December 3, 2014 | 12:43 PM

Last Wednesday night I participated in a beautiful and compelling ecumenical Thanksgiving service in Napa. Over 250 people attended, and I know there were many other such spiritual and secular gatherings around the country during Thanksgiving. When I returned home, I regrettably turned on the 11:00 PM local news. In...

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The Real Threat: The Ethical Cliff

(3) Comments | Posted January 11, 2013 | 10:22 AM

The high drama of the past months has reached an end. For now, the fiscal cliff has been avoided. Although we know that soon there will be another one. However, how does one compute the toll of worry and anxiety that is has taken on millions of Americans? The stress,...

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Moral Conscience and a Bleeding World: When Will the Carnage Stop?

(1) Comments | Posted December 27, 2012 | 9:49 AM

I will never forget the profound feelings of sadness and the deep sense of outrage when I first heard the news. I thought that maybe this massacre would finally lead to change. The news trickled in small fragments, speculations of what was happening, estimates of those injured and those killed....

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My Meeting with Vin Scully: Important Lessons for Shaping a Meaningful Life

(3) Comments | Posted August 6, 2012 | 5:47 PM

When I recently met one of my childhood heroes, it made me reflect on why he remains a hero; and why we all need heroes. In 1958 when the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles my life changed. As a 10-year-old boy, nothing compared to L.A. now having its own...

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Speaking Truth to Power: Sean Penn

(2) Comments | Posted May 22, 2012 | 12:54 PM

The most human prophetic voices in the Bible from Micah to Jeremiah spoke eloquent, piercing words that disturbed the people. It has never been easy to be the person talking about the injustices in the world as the prophet Amos said: "They hate the one who reproves in the gate;...

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The Legacy of Vaclav Havel

(1) Comments | Posted December 30, 2011 | 1:04 PM

Prague, Czech Republic
December 23, 2011

The feelings of sadness, loss, grief were palatable as I walked around Prague and went to the Presidential Palace. Today was Vaclav Havel's funeral. At noon a siren sounded and everyone stopped to reflect for a minute on his life. I looked at...

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Nature Is Indiscrimate: We Are Not

(2) Comments | Posted October 26, 2011 | 6:00 PM

I will never forget that moment: 4:31 a.m., January 17, 1994. Like millions of others the Northridge earthquake shook me to my core. The ground which always seemed so anchored and firm was now was in turbulent motion. The Northridge earthquake (6.7) devastated so many people's lives in the Los...

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Why I Remain Hopeful

(2) Comments | Posted October 26, 2011 | 5:50 PM

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Our news constantly bombards us with stories about one celebrity or another. It seems like all we care about is their social life, their vulnerabilities, their shortcoming. Then to compensate for it many celebrities give their name or bit of time to a charitable organization. This was best...

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Never Again: Are We Still Remembering Or Starting To Forget?

(1) Comments | Posted May 20, 2011 | 12:22 PM

TAMBURA COUNTY, SOUTH SUDAN -- I recall the stories I heard about the Holocaust as a child. Perhaps that explains why I am here, the reason behind my many trips to this area -- the stories, the images, the films had an indelible impact on me.

I remember the first...

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The Birth Pangs of the World's Newest Country: The Republic of South Sudan

(1) Comments | Posted May 11, 2011 | 7:39 PM

Since 2004 I have made several trips to this region: Darfur, Eastern Chad and now South Sudan. I am here because I believe there is an obligation to "bear witness" and to take action. One acts in a variety of ways: humanitarian aid, advocacy for human rights and sharing the...

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Avoiding Darfive

(3) Comments | Posted September 30, 2009 | 1:05 PM

It is often in the absurd that poignant insights are provided. In his new movie, Brüno, Sasha Baron Cohen's character responds to a question regarding his social involvement: "Darfur is old news ... what about Darfive." He is commenting on our need to move on to what is fashionable and...

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New Year: Is There Hope for the Darfuri People, for Us?

(1) Comments | Posted September 28, 2009 | 6:36 PM

No one says it ... but the uneasy feeling was palpable.  I  could see the questions in their eyes:  Why are you going to spend Rosh Hashanah in Darfuri refugee camps in Eastern Chad?  Why would a rabbi welcome the Jewish New Year in a place where there are no...

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