Rachel Travis

Rachel Travis

Rachel Travis is a consultant in PwC's Public Sector Practice. After earning a master’s in Jewish Art and Visual Culture at the Jewish Theological Seminary, Rachel has worked at a number of museums and Jewish institutions, exercising her belief that art can serve as a vehicle for social change. Born in Manhattan and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, she currently lives with her husband and son in New York City where they enjoy biking, baking and urban farming. Rachel can be reached at racheltravis@gmail.com.

Ki Tisa

What does it mean to “count”? To count can mean to tally items to determine the total—as in, the teacher counted her students. To count can also mean to have merit, importance or value—as in, every little bit of help counts. In Parashat Ki Tisa, God instructs Moshe to count the Jewish people. Men over the age of twenty are included in this census, and each is commanded to donate a half-shekel, which is used for the construction and upkeep of the Tabernacle.

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Vayetze

The 5776 (2015-2016) cycle of Dvar Tzedek is a special one. To commemorate AJWS’s 30th anniversary, we are sharing a selection of some of our favorite commentaries from past years. Each legacy commentary will be introduced with a related reflection on AJWS’s work and contemporary issues. Introductory Reflection Natural disasters are devastating, no matter where …Read More

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Beha’alotcha

For years I kept a Jewish calendar on my wall. It was my weekly guide to Shabbat times and my monthly reference for Jewish holidays. Now I have a Jewish calendar app on my phone and refer to Chabad.org each Friday to check candle lighting times. The technology has changed, but the fact that much of Jewish observance is embedded in time remains the same.

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Ki Tisa

What does it mean to “count”? To count can mean to tally items to determine the total—as in, the teacher counted her students. To count can also mean to have merit, importance or value—as in, every little bit of help counts. In Parashat Ki Tisa, God instructs Moshe to count the Jewish people. Men over the age of twenty are included in this census, and each is commanded to donate a half-shekel, which is used for the construction and upkeep of the Tabernacle.

Read More

Vayetze

In the wake of hurricane Sandy I felt immensely blessed. My home was warm, light and entirely unscathed. When I ventured downtown two days later to volunteer on New York’s Lower East Side, however, it was as if I had crossed into another dimension, one in which people lugged buckets of water up a dozen …Read More

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Ki Tavo

Several months ago, my husband was stopped by one of the ubiquitous young people on the streets of Manhattan fundraising for good causes. He was told that for just $22 a month, he could sponsor a needy child in the Global South. Moved by the pitch, he signed up, and soon after, a photo of …Read More

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Eikev

If you ask people why they’re involved in community service, few—if any—would include personal reward or accolades on their list of motivations. There seems to be an expectation in our culture that good works should be accompanied by a Mother Theresa-like abdication of personal benefit. Admitting otherwise generally elicits squeamish responses. And yet, public service …Read More

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Balak

A specter of violence and conflict hangs over Parshat Balak. Fearing attack by the approaching Israelite nation, Balak, king of Moab, hires the prophet Bilaam to curse the Israelites. Balak entreats Bilaam: “come then, put a curse upon this people for me, since they are too numerous for me… for I know that he whom …Read More

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Beha’alotcha

For years I kept a Jewish calendar on my wall. It was my weekly guide to Shabbat times and my monthly reference for Jewish holidays. Now I have a Jewish calendar app on my phone and refer to Chabad.org each Friday to check candle lighting times. The technology has changed, but the fact that much …Read More

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Emor

We are currently in the third week of the omer—the 49-day period of nightly counting between Pesach and Shavuot. According to rabbinic tradition, the omer serves as a bridge between two spiritual milestones: the redemption from Egypt (Pesach) and the giving of the Torah (Shavuot). But biblically, the link between the two festivals was agricultural, …Read More

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