Judaism

For hospital chaplains, navigating patient needs during the pandemic takes a toll

September 22, 2020

When the Rev. Tenku Ruff, a Soto Zen Buddhist priest, took over as the pastoral care director at Phelps Hospital Northwell Health in Sleepy Hollow in June, she knew she was entering uncharted territory: She was taking on the hospital-based position in the middle of a pandemic.

As she spoke to doctors and other staff, she heard about Chaplain Cyril Owambo, who early in the pandemic, was asked to counsel a family whose loved one had just died of COVID-19.

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UW dental students find ways to follow COVID-19 regulations while maintaining religious values

September 18, 2020

Rules and regulations around coronavirus and its impact on school and work have been challenging to accommodate ever-changing data and cases. 

Some have said that these rules and regulations have interfered with their religious freedoms. 

Dr. Karan Singh and Dr. Omri Margalit are University of Washington School of Dentistry students who have had to find alternative ways to finish up their degrees while staying true to their faith.

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In Boston, the pandemic helps open High Holidays to the unaffiliated

September 16, 2020

In less than two weeks, the High Holidays will arrive in the midst of this unprecedented pandemic. While it may be a challenge to engage worshippers, it’s not impossible. This past month, clergy across Judaism’s denominations shared their thoughts on recreating a High Holiday experience without people in the pews.

All were confident about conveying the importance of repentance and beginning anew during a pandemic. And all agreed that worship would look different. The shofar, for example, will be heard in new, socially distanced ways. Some shofar-blowers are placing a mask at...

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Town settles lawsuit over nixed Orthodox Jewish expansion

September 16, 2020

A northern New Jersey town has reached an agreement in a federal lawsuit that accused it of illegally denying an Orthodox Jewish group’s attempt to expand its footprint, the U.S. attorney’s office for New Jersey announced Tuesday.

If the agreement is approved by a judge, Woodcliff Lake will allow Valley Chabad to expand its existing property, and will pay the group $1.5 million to settle a separate lawsuit filed by the group against the town.

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Amid Pandemic, Jewish Religious Traditions Packed into DIY Kits

September 10, 2020

It's a religious obligation for Jews: affixing a mezuzah on their door post. It's a sign those inside live a Jewish life. 

"These are the mezuzah, which are from Israel, written by scribes. It’s hand-written,“ said the Chabad Mitzvah Society Director Mendy Ceitlin. 

The Chabad Mitzvah Society in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, created these do-it-yourself kits, providing a step-by-step guide for putting up a mezuzah. 

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Staying spiritual, safe: Campus religious groups adapt to social distancing

September 9, 2020

The Hillel Jewish Student Union used to pack hundreds of students into its Forbes Avenue building almost every Friday evening. Although students can no longer gather in crowded rooms, they’re still spending their Fridays with a few friends and a whole lot of challah.

From socially distant Shabbat to virtual Bible studies to international pen pal programs, students of various religions are solidifying their faith and their communities while following public health guidelines. Faith...

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Rent and religion: Young Jewish girl inspired to help others during bat mitzvah

September 9, 2020

While balancing parenthood alone during a pandemic can challenging, adding eviction to the equation can be heartbreaking.

“My heart dropped for the simple fact that I was homeless before with my four kids,” Mary Ratchford-Bass said after losing her job as an office cleaner.

“Once the pandemic hit, they went to working from home and that left us with little to no work to do,” she said.

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Shofar lessons are becoming a pre-holiday necessity in the age of coronavirus

September 4, 2020

In the biblical account, the walls of Jericho came tumbling down after Joshua commanded seven priests to blow their ram’s horns or shofars.

This year, it will take a lot more than seven priests for the plaintive wail of the shofar to penetrate the walls of Jews sheltering in place for the Jewish High Holy Days.

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JewBelong Makes Rosh Hashanah Observance Accessible

September 1, 2020

Archie Gottesman, one of JewBelong’s principal founders, understands if her organization isn’t quite the right fit for someone. JewBelong’s “disclaimer” states: “JewBelong’s mission is to welcome people to Judaism with Jewish readings and rituals that many people can relate to. And guess what, JewBelong isn’t for everyone. This should not be shocking. Hell, Jews have a hard time agreeing on anything, you really think they are all going...

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Amid virus lockdowns, prison ministry groups had to adapt

August 31, 2020

Normally Teresa Stanfield spends her days in prisons talking with inmates about how she changed the course of her troubled life, and how they can do the same. But the coronavirus has locked her on the outside.

“When COVID came and shut down programming, I was extremely disappointed,” said Stanfield, Oklahoma field director with Virginia-based Prison Fellowship. “But I also knew that God had a plan and we were going to do everything we could to continue to encourage our returning citizens and keep our volunteers connected.”

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6 months into pandemic, Jews prepare for a High Holiday season of rupture and resilience

August 31, 2020

For many Jews, a high point of services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is the Unetaneh Tokef prayer, which wonders who will live and who will die in the year ahead.

This year, that question will take on added resonance, as the High Holidays fall six months into a global pandemic that has reshaped lives, battered institutions and killed hundreds of thousands of people, including many in Jewish communities.

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Torahs packed and synagogues on high alert as fires bear down in North Bay

August 21, 2020

When the evacuation orders came Tuesday night, Guerneville resident Sonia Tubridy and her daughter packed the car and left, joining a caravan of vehicles fleeing the North Bay area and the fires that threatened to engulf them.

Tubridy, cultural director of the Russian River Jewish Community, was among the thousands of people ordered to evacuate from fires burning 46,000 acres across a vast area covering five counties and stretching from Vacaville north to Lake Berryessa and out to the Sonoma County coast. Dubbed the “LNU Lightning Complex” by Cal Fire, the danger zone has...

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