Judaism

‘We ask forgiveness from the dead’: Why Jewish volunteers are washing bodies in a pandemic

May 29, 2020

 

It used to be that David Kushner would receive a call to report to one of the area's Jewish funeral homes once every few weeks. In the pandemic, his phone has buzzed every single day, sometimes more than once.

Then, Kushner, 40, must rally the other members of the Chevra Kadisha B'nei Moshe. This all-volunteer group, which is not affiliated with any one synagogue or denomination, is the largest of the handful of chevra kadishas, or burial societies, that operate in the region. Driven by faith and reverence for tradition, its members gather to carry out the...

Read more about ‘We ask forgiveness from the dead’: Why Jewish volunteers are washing bodies in a pandemic

Shabbat online? Conservative synagogues get OK, but some were already doing it

May 26, 2020

For Orthodox synagogues, it was an easy choice: Pandemic or no, a Shabbat service cannot be streamed online. For many liberal synagogues, it was similarly easy: Meet the needs of the moment, and start streaming Shabbat services.

But for Conservative synagogues, it was a matter for serious deliberation: To stream or not to stream?

On May 13, the Conservative movement’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards provided official guidance: Despite longstanding prohibitions against using electricity and computers on Shabbat and major Jewish holidays, prayer services could...

Read more about Shabbat online? Conservative synagogues get OK, but some were already doing it

Despite Green Light, Many Mass. Houses Of Worship Won't Convene In-Person

May 26, 2020

 

Episcopalians in Massachusetts are saying no church before July 1.

The United Church of Christ in the state is saying nothing before the end of summer.

The Unitarians want to wait until next year.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Boston expects less than 20% of its 280 churches to be open this weekend.

And the Baptists are still trying to figure out how to safely do baptisms in the age of the...

Read more about Despite Green Light, Many Mass. Houses Of Worship Won't Convene In-Person

Four young people of different faiths move into a home together, then a pandemic happens

May 20, 2020
Hadar Cohen, Ala’ Khan, Maya Mansour and Jonathan Simcosky arrived as strangers, ready to embark on a new interfaith journey.
 
The four roommates moved into a five-bedroom, five-bath house in Los Angeles’ Koreatown neighborhood earlier this year. They come from different faiths: Baha’i, Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Cohen came from Jerusalem but had already lived in the Bay Area for a few years. Simcosky made the trek from Salem, Massachusetts, to L.A. Khan and Mansour were already in Southern California.
 
They...
Read more about Four young people of different faiths move into a home together, then a pandemic happens

The pandemic is forcing synagogues to reinvent themselves

May 6, 2020

 

The start of May means different things to different people, but for most synagogues, it means it’s time to start planning for the high holidays.

And it’s never been so difficult to make those plans.

Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are the spiritual and communal high points in the Jewish calendar — and also the time when many synagogues earn enough from ticket sales, membership renewals and donations to sustain their activities for the rest of the year.

It’s almost impossible to imagine a scenario in which it would be advisable to gather...

Read more about The pandemic is forcing synagogues to reinvent themselves

Spiritual counselors adapt to serve faithful in pandemic

April 24, 2020

 

Esther Roman wasn’t even in the room when she witnessed what she describes as “probably the holiest thing I’ve ever seen.”

A doctor whose patient was suffering from COVID-19 had used an iPad to connect with Roman, a 38-year-old staff chaplain at Manhattan’s Mount Sinai Morningside hospital, and members of the patient’s family. As the patient’s family told him that if they could, they would be in the room to comfort him, Roman saw – in the digital frame – the doctor reach out and stroke his hair.

“I don’t think that image will ever leave me,” Roman...

Read more about Spiritual counselors adapt to serve faithful in pandemic

Orthodox Jews are donating plasma by the thousands to fight Covid-19

April 22, 2020

 

Hasidic shoe wholesaler is leading an effort to get the New York City area’s Orthodox Jews who have recovered from Covid-19 to donate their blood plasma en masse, so that it can be used as a therapy by people still battling the coronavirus.

Chaim Lebovits, of Monsey, N.Y., has been working for weeks to create a network of rabbis, religious organizations, virus researchers, health professionals and hospital administrators to educate Orthodox Jews about the benefits of plasma donation, as well as testing them and receiving their blood.

So far,...

Read more about Orthodox Jews are donating plasma by the thousands to fight Covid-19

Orthodox Jewish Women Are Facing an Impossible Choice Right Now

April 20, 2020

Around the country, Jewish communities have all but shut down, closing synagogues, canceling Passover seders, conducting funerals by Zoom. Yet one kind of Jewish public space has remained mostly open: mikvahs, or pools used for ritual immersions.

Each month, when they get their period, some Jewish women observe a time of niddah, or ritual impurity. As long as they’re bleeding, and often for at least a week afterward, they can’t have sex with their partner. Many couples won’t hug or kiss, sleep in the same bed, or even pass objects to each other. Under any...

Read more about Orthodox Jewish Women Are Facing an Impossible Choice Right Now

Man charged with planting a bomb at a Jewish assisted-living home in apparent anti-Semitic attack in Massachusetts

April 17, 2020

A Massachusetts man is accused of planting a homemade bomb at a Jewish assisted-living home, in an act that federal prosecutors say appears to have been motivated by online forums that encouraged violence against Jews.

The bomb did not go off and no one was injured. Authorities arrested John Michael Rathbun, 36, on Wednesday, two weeks after police found the incendiary device at the entrance to Ruth’s House, the assisted-living facility in Longmeadow, Mass.

Federal prosecutors in Massachusetts connected Rathbun’s alleged...

Read more about Man charged with planting a bomb at a Jewish assisted-living home in apparent anti-Semitic attack in Massachusetts

Religious leaders stress ‘We’re all in this together’

April 15, 2020

 

Different religious institutions in South Florida have joined together to host virtual interfaith services and uplift people’s spirits during the new coronavirus pandemic.

One of these online services was an “Interfaith Vigil of Prayer” that was led by clergy of three houses of worship in Jupiter –Temple Beth Am, JupiterFirst Church and St. Peter Catholic Church. The service featured prayer, music, conversations and candle lighting.

Rabbi Alon...

Read more about Religious leaders stress ‘We’re all in this together’

Easter, Passover, Vaisakhi, Ramadan: Milwaukee celebrates major religious holidays during a pandemic

April 13, 2020

 

Religious holidays this month are being celebrated using social distancing, but faith leaders say that doesn't mean people of faith have to be spiritually distant.

Many places of worship around the state are getting creative in how they celebrate. Many have moved their services online. Others are offering drive-up services.

At Faith Builders Church, they held a virtual service on Easter Sunday and invited congregation members to a drive-up blessing after the service was over. Senior Pastor Jeff Pruitt prayed over each family as they drove up...

Read more about Easter, Passover, Vaisakhi, Ramadan: Milwaukee celebrates major religious holidays during a pandemic

Blessings from afar

April 10, 2020

 

Social distancing in the age of coronavirus means improvisation, and members of the Harvard community are nothing if not creative. Over the past several weeks students, faculty, and staff have found innovative ways to mark some of the holiest days in the Jewish and Christian calendars remotely, including Passover seders and Holy Week services.

Harvard Divinity School

At Harvard Divinity School (HDS), two students have pulled together a virtual Passover seder set for Monday. The online meal will be open to anyone regardless of faith and will blend...

Read more about Blessings from afar

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...

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

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-...

Read more about Synagogues adapt to online prayer and community building

Pages