Judaism

With Passover, Easter and Ramadan looming, clergy scramble to create holidays at a distance

April 6, 2020

 

The Rev. Richard Mosson Weinberg canceled the Boston ferns and the yellow daffodils for the Easter service ordered for his Episcopal church in Washington’s affluent Kalorama neighborhood. Rabbi Levi Shemtov scrapped plans for the 200-person Seder dinner for Passover in his Chabad synagogue nearby. And Imam Yahya Luqman called off the Ramadan dinners at his mosque down the street.

These three faith leaders, who normally lead worship within walking distance from each other in Northwest Washington, are all scrambling to find...

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Synagogues adapt to online prayer and community building

April 3, 2020

 

In Temple Emanuel’s Gann Chapel, Friday evening’s “Shabbat Alive!” service proceeds as it has every week since its inception in 2007. Every member of the clergy is dressed in some variation of tallit and kippah and the bimah features its typical cast of characters. However, the pews are desolate, only occupied by various Hebrew prayer books.

These texts will not be touched for the foreseeable future as Emanuel, as well as religious institutions around Newton and the country, respond to the outbreak of COVID-...

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As coronavirus death toll mounts, faith leaders the world over grapple with funerals

April 3, 2020

For Menaka Kannan, it was bad enough when she heard that a fellow member of New York City’s Baha’i community had contracted the novel coronavirus. But she was not emotionally prepared for the news that came roughly a week later: He had succumbed to the infection and died.

“The news of his passing, of course, is very shocking,” she said.

As the community grappled with the grief, a lingering question arose: How do you conduct a funeral in the midst of a global pandemic, when a healing hug is now seen as a potential death sentence?

It’s a conundrum facing...

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Young Jews away from home are trying to figure out how to have Passover by themselves

April 1, 2020

Randi Bergman isn’t sure of her Passover plans yet, but there’s a good chance she’ll be spending the holiday alone. 

Bergman, a 34-year-old freelance fashion writer, lives alone in what she calls a junior one-bedroom apartment in downtown Toronto. The setup — desk, bed, couch, TV, kitchenette but no dining table — fits her usual busy lifestyle, which doesn’t involve a ton of cooking and eating meals on her couch or at her desk.

But it’s not ideal for conducting a Passover seder, the festive meal that is...

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How religious leaders are keeping faith during coronavirus, even from a social distance

April 1, 2020

REV. THOMAS CONWAY 

Executive Director of St. Anthony Shrine, Boston; interviewed on Sunday, March 15.

"I got a call yesterday from a woman saying, “I’m sitting outside the [church] building,” and she was crying. Her brother was in ICU, and because of the coronavirus crisis, she wasn’t able to go visit him. And he was dying. She had a very reasonable request: “Can we just pray for him for a minute?” And I said, “Sure, we can do that.” So we stood outside, and we prayed on the...

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Stay-at-home faith. There’s a podcast for that.

March 27, 2020

While the doors at many houses of worship are closed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, there are still ways to access spirituality online. Houston is home to a number of locally made podcasts, dedicated to exploring faith. These digital audio files can be downloaded and listened to whenever and wherever is convenient.

Interfaith Podcast Project

If Houston could tell its story, it would include a tale of diverse religions thriving in one city. That’s a challenge “Interfaith Podcast Project” accepted — exploring different faith traditions in a way that...

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Coronavirus’ Toll on Weddings and B’nai Mitzvah

March 25, 2020

Chicago native Debbie Steinberg never imagined she’d have to cancel her dream wedding celebration and move it to the living room of a friend’s house. But that’s exactly what she and her fiancé, Jordan Kagan did on March 16, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Within a few hours, they had gathered close friends, brought out a chuppah, dresses and suits, and filmed the ceremony on Facebook Live for family and friends.

“Everything was basically planned,” Steinberg told the Journal of her original dream wedding. “It’s devastating at first to put so much into something like...

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The new sound of worship services: ‘Can you mute your mic? Amen.’

March 20, 2020

It was the last day of a 19-day period of daytime fasting for Baha’i believers all over the world. The Washington area’s Baha’i community would have ordinarily been looking forward to joining at night to feast in celebration and welcome in the Baha’i new year.

Instead, alone in their kitchens and bedrooms and living rooms on Thursday afternoon, they opened up a Skype window.

The sounds of religious worship these days are intermingled with the vocabulary of conference calls: “Try to mute your microphone.” “You’re frozen.” “I can...

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Purim and coronavirus: How Jewish celebrations could be upended

March 10, 2020

 

Slipping on a black tricorn hat, 7-year-old Daphne Greene grinned at her mom while they eyed costumes on Thursday at the West Side Judaica & Bookstore on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Daphne told her mom she should buy the penguin outfit hanging from the ceiling.

Described by some as the “Jewish Halloween,” Purim is a festive holiday where people dress up in elaborate costumes and don masks to celebrate the biblical story of Queen Esther rescuing the Jewish people from mass slaughter. But fear over the spread of the novel coronavirus has...

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Race, Religion and Art in Nissim Black’s ‘Mothaland Bounce’

March 6, 2020

“This is the first rap that I have actually enjoyed,” wrote Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Mordechai Becher. “That alone is an incredible accomplishment for Nissim Black.”

Rabbi Becher was referring to African-American-Israeli singer Nissim Black’s latest runaway music video, “Mothaland Bounce,” an explosive fusion of Zulu warriors, inner-city street youth and chasidic shtreimels, an unlikely mix in the genre of music appealing to Orthodox listeners.

Raised in Seattle, Black made a career for himself as a rap musician before converting to...

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