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Person dressed up at home while lighting Shabbat candles in a living room setting

Why have Shabbat once a week? What is the value of a calendar cycle separate from the moon or sun?

Even before pandemic-driven stay-at-home orders severely restricted our Jewish communal activities, my professional life had largely moved online. I write and e-publish technical articles and am enrolled in two remote study programs so, by and large, my day-to-day activities did not change much with the lockdown.

However, I did lose some in-person events that marked my weeks: namely, a Tuesday morning figure...

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Older woman staring out a window while wearing a face mask

During the quarantine, our lives have been turned upside down. If we are fortunate to have remained healthy (and this qualifier is not to be taken for granted nor preclude us from acknowledging the severity of the pandemic and its devastating impact on others), our lives were initially consumed with staying informed about the pandemic, protecting our health, and learning how to procure basics such as food without the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19. We may also have needed to tend to the immediate needs of others such as children or elderly relatives.

The quarantine caused...

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Black and white image of a group of smiling children beneath a small tent in a desert setting

What was it like to grow up in a communal children’s house on an Israeli kibbutz? Rachel Biale was born in 1952 and raised on Kibbutz Kfar Ruppin, overlooking the Jordan River. She is the author of the new memoir Growing Up Below Sea Level: A Kibbutz Childhood (Mandel Vilar Press).

Rachel, who earned her MSW in social work from Yeshiva...

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Cantor Laura Stein and Rabbi Sandy Bogin lead Shabbat worship services behind a loudspeaker

Shabbat observance fulfills a special purpose in nursing home settings. In the residence where I serve as cantor and hospice chaplain, Shabbat marks a unique kind of transition. The week, structured with activities and sessions, makes way for a quieter time of simple togetherness. It also signals the weekend, when spouses, children, and grandchildren, off from work and school, visit their loved ones and provide companionship.

Above all, Shabbat is an anchor that connects people to a past they may fear they’re...

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Blue and silver stethoscope

These days, it seems as though a new crisis erupts in the United States every month. The COVID-19 pandemic engulfed the country in early March but was followed weeks later by a sudden rise in public awareness regarding police brutality against Black people.

As the Religious Action Center’s legislative staffer responsible for health care policy, I had been immersed in the Reform Movement’s COVID-19 response since March and was admittedly caught off guard when the news shifted almost entirely to police violence in late spring. I thought to myself, “...

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