Judaism

From changing lives to preaching at iPads: How clergy are coping with the new normal

July 27, 2020

They can’t shake hands. They can’t sing robustly. And, in most cases, they can’t worship in person with people they’ve seen on a weekly basis for years.

Clergy have been forced to adjust to a “new normal” of leadership in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, a crisis that was unexpected both at its start and in its continuing duration.

“We moved from snow day mentality to marathon mentality now,” said the Rev. Rob Dyer, senior pastor of a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregation in Belleville,...

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Hilary Decent: How Naperville’s faith communities are operating under phase 4 of Illinois reopening

July 27, 2020

Naperville’s faith communities are taking a cautious approach to eased restrictions now that Illinois has moved to phase four of its coronavirus recovery program.

Members of the First Congregational United Church of Christ have been meeting online since March. Rev. Mark Winters said: “Since the middle of March, we have been live streaming our services from our sanctuary. We recently switched to a pre-recorded model which allows us to include more readers and musicians (recording from their home), which is closer to how we would normally worship.”

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Houses of worship get creative in time of COVID

July 24, 2020

With COVID-19 concerns still front and center, houses of worship across the North Shore are moving forward with very different approaches — from traditional indoor Masses to meditations on kayaks to online-only services. Some are worried that the pandemic and economic downturn will have damaging, long-term effects.

“We need your help now more than ever,” the Rev. Jim Achadinha with the Catholic Community of Rockport and Gloucester wrote in a recent blog. “Our parishes depend solely on the generosity of our fellow parishioners to pay bills, make ends meet, and help to ensure...

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In Portland, this rabbi leads the clergy resistance

July 24, 2020

Amid the ongoing demonstrations in Portland, Oregon, where officers from various federal agencies have clashed nightly with protesters, several groups of observers can be spotted by their distinctive colors:

Members of the American Civil Liberties Union in blue.

Members of the National Lawyers Guild donning neon green hats.

The Wall of Moms, clad in yellow.

And a group of clergy walking around in purple vests.

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Valley’s religious turns to faith without framework as virus ravages

July 23, 2020

During times of turmoil, many people turn to their respective places of worship for comfort and guidance.

With COVID-19 ravaging much of the Rio Grande Valley and new orders reissued to mitigate the disease’s spread as hundreds more are infected and dozens die daily, many local faith leaders are faced with something of a conundrum: how to provide hope during what many feel is a hopeless time.

For the Valley’s spiritual leaders, the answer lies in social media.

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Some synagogues are opting for high-quality over homegrown when it comes to online services. Is that a good thing?

July 21, 2020

For the rabbis and cantor of Congregation Beth Shalom in Northbrook, Illinois, the to-do list to prepare for the unprecedented online-only High Holidays season was long.

In addition to transforming their usual services for over 3,000 people into an experience that congregants will find meaningful online, they needed to figure out how to create a service for families that would be engaging for young children through a screen.

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100 young Jews are volunteering this summer as part of a new service project

July 15, 2020

For the next four weeks, Molly Lippitt will spend her days sorting and bagging food at a Detroit distribution center that supplies shelters and soup kitchens in five Southeast Michigan counties.

It’s her way of giving back in this time of self-isolation when jobs are scarce and needs are overwhelming.

Lippitt is part of a cohort of nearly 100 Jews, aged 18 to 29, who are spending a month volunteering with a variety of nonprofit organizations as part of a new Jewish service alliance.

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Bingo ban hurts religious community

July 15, 2020

Religious institutions in our community are not immune from the impact of the pandemic. While places of worship have been allowed to reopen with limited services, many fundraisers have been either cancelled or postponed.

There's one particular tradition that's on hold for now according to Bruce Corris, the congregation president for Temple Shir Shalom in Amherst. 

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Millions in security funding for Jewish schools, synagogues following Monsey attack

July 14, 2020

In the wake of the fatal Hanukkah attack near a Monsey synagogue, more than $2.5 million in federal funding has been earmarked for strengthening security at nearly two dozen Jewish schools, synagogues and community centers in Rockland and Westchester counties.

The money was secured by U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey, D-Harrison, through the Department of Homeland Security's FEMA grants to prepare for and respond to terrorist attacks.

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Muslim civil liberties group to represent inmate denied kosher food in Michigan jail

July 9, 2020

An Islamic civil liberties and advocacy organization will represent a man who has been denied kosher food in a Michigan jail.

The Michigan chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, or CAIR, said in a statement issued Monday that it would appear as legal representative for Brandon Resch, an inmate in the Macomb County Jail, in his lawsuit against the county.

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As COVID-19 rages at San Quentin, a prison rabbi and activist offer comfort and support

July 8, 2020

Kat Morgan led her last Shabbat service inside San Quentin State Prison on March 13. At one point during that service, and her co-leaders divided the congregants into small groups to share things that bring them joy during darker moments.

“These people are experts in resilience,” she said. “They shared gratitude for things like prayer, meditation, and eating a cookie. Some of them said that even waking up is a joy that they’ve made it to see another day. It was profoundly moving, given the context.”

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In Seattle’s protest zone, rabbis at chaplaincy table create new rituals to heal

June 24, 2020

On Sunday, June 7, a 31-year-old man attempted to drive his car into a crowd of protesters in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. In the ensuing scuffle, he shot one protester before surrendering to police, who were stationed behind barricades in front of a precinct building that had become a protest flashpoint.

The traumatic experience was the culmination of a week of intense protests over the May 25 murder of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police office. It was a week that saw police deploy tear gas, pepper spray, and flash bangs on multiple nights in response...

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Young Hasidic Jews protest in support of black neighbors, challenging history of racial tensions

June 22, 2020

 

On a recent Sunday, about 200 young Hasidic women in long skirts and wigs and men with wide-brimmed black hats and free-flowing beards parked their baby strollers along the tree-lined boulevards of Crown Heights in Brooklyn.

They picked up their bullhorns and raised their homemade posters, some in Hebrew and Yiddish.

“The opposite of love is not hate. It’s indifference,” one sign read, quoting Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace laureate Elie ­Wiesel. The young families chanted “Black lives matter!” and “Jews for justice!” as they...

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Amid a National Reckoning Over Race, Jews are Embracing Juneteenth

June 19, 2020

 

After the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic this spring delayed the launch of the website for TribeHerald, a new media company for Jews of color, founders Yitz Jordan and Rabbi Shais Rishon settled on a perfect alternative: the evening of June 18.

After all, it would be “erev Juneteenth,” Jordan said — a mashup of the Hebrew word denoting the eve of Jewish observances and the name of the holiday commemorating the day...

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