Judaism

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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Coronavirus reshapes Chicago religious practices, but some not changing their ways

March 6, 2020

 

Even as coronavirus concerns spread across the world and religious groups in the Chicago area made changes to their practices to deal with the disease, some churchgoers said they aren’t worried enough yet to change how they worship.

At St. James Episcopal Cathedral, a group of about 15 parishioners gathered for an afternoon Mass on Wednesday. Prior to beginning the readings, the Rev. Courtney Reid told the group that some tweaks in the ceremony will apply because...

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Faith before basketball for Yeshiva University champions

March 2, 2020

 

Each of the mighty Maccabees has his role on the men’s basketball team. Gabriel Leifer sinks three-pointers; Daniel Katz is the defense wizard; Simcha Halpert makes the perfect alley-oop passes to Ryan Turell who soars for dunks.

Kids pretend to be them in pickup games. The home crowd sings in Hebrew and roars when they score. But before tipoff, the team always gathers around Tyler Hod, a senior guard and their unofficial rabbi.

Reading passages from the Torah, Hod shares a story, all the while drawing lessons...

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Pittsburgh tragedy helped build deep interfaith cooperation

February 28, 2020

“The Quran tells us red and yellow are the most distracting colors, the ones that should not ever be used for a prayer rug,” the imam tells us, looking down at the red and yellow rug beneath our feet in the mosque. He adds, “It was a donation, there was nothing I could do about the improper coloring.”

“Why don’t people know what the Quran has to say about these things?” my teenage daughter asks.

“Well,” he explains, “there is a lot to know: 6,000 sutras, 20,000 hadiths and 100,000 stories about the life of Muhammad.”

My...

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Women Holocaust survivors find joy in fighting poverty

February 24, 2020

Frumie Cisner remembers the first time she witnessed a Holocaust survivor picking through trash — how the woman scavenged a box of baked goods from a dumpster in front of a Brooklyn synagogue.

“It was heartbreaking,” Cisner said. “You’re not talking about luxuries. It’s food. You would never dream that they go through this kind of poverty.”

And yet, it’s not uncommon. Decades after they suffered unspeakable horrors at concentration camps, many Holocaust survivors in the United States live in poverty and rely on donations...

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Do religious dating apps like Mutual, Christian Mingle endanger users?

February 24, 2020

When Marla Perrin, now 25, first heard about Mutual, the dating app designed for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she was thrilled.

Perrin had tried dating apps like Tinder in the past, but found the experience fruitless and frustrating: the men she matched with often didn’t share her faith, and her guard was always up, worried that someone would harass or stalk her. 

But Mutual seemed like a dating oasis to Perrin, who was living in Hawaii and looking to find a partner. She thought that the men on...

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TweetYourShabbat Is All About Embracing Diverse — And Imperfect — Shabbat Dinners

February 21, 2020

It’s Friday afternoon and Jews across the country are gathering on their phones for the traditional…Twitter Shabbat posting.

Yes, for a brief period every Friday, Jewish Twitter is filled with questions about kugel or brisket, and menus of gefilte fish, roasted chicken and pareve babka.

The tweets are tied together by a single hashtag —#TweetYourShabbat. Started by Carly Pildis, a social activist and a contributing editor at Tablet, in ...

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Pride and peril as Democrats inch toward first Jewish nominee

February 19, 2020

Generations of American Jewish children have been taught that in the United States, even a Jew could be elected president.

For the first time in history, the Democratic Party appears to be inching closer toward making that a reality. Going into Wednesday’s Democratic debate (Feb. 19), Sen. Bernie Sanders and former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, both of whom are Jewish, occupy the top two spots in recent polling.

Sanders, after Iowa and New Hampshire, is now the Democratic ...

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