25 Jewish Things to Do Under Quarantine
If you’re looking for a bit of an escape from everything going on in the world right now (and have the time and good health to do so), try experimenting with and embracing your Judaism from home. Here are a few ways to begin.
1. Watch a Jewishly themed TV show.
Today’s streaming services offers endless shows to choose from, many with Jewish (or Jewish-ish) themes. To help you choose the perfect show for you, we’ve rounded up 14 of our favorite options from Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.
2. Get more comfortable talking to God.
Hitbodedut (literally “self-isolation”), a style of prayer first popularized by Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, is the act of open, spontaneous, and direct communication with God. Here are three steps to talking to God on your own terms.
3. Call your mother.
Or father. Or grandparents. Or aunts or uncles or siblings or friends… or all of the above! There’s certainly a stereotype surrounding Jewish mothers (here are some of our favorite TV representations of them), but the point is this: Check in on your loved ones.
4. Read a Jewish book.
Dive into an unputdownable page-turner by browsing more than 150 reviews of Jewishly themed books. From memoirs to YA novels to historical tomes, covering everything from pop culture to Israel to social issues, there’s something for everyone.
5. Bake challah.
Check out “All Things Challah” for 14 of our favorite challah recipes plus helpful hacks for baking, braiding, and more. Here’s to inspiring your own venture into the world of making challah!
6. Visit Israel… virtually.
The Facebook group “Virtual Israel” offers remote experiences with accredited Israeli tour guides who can guide take you to an Israeli national park, walk you through the streets of Israel, or do a learning session on Israel – all from afar.
7. Learn about this week’s Torah portion.
Dig into the parashah (Torah portion) on our Torah Study page, which includes modern-day commentaries from clergy, artists, and scholars, then have a new commentary delivered to your inbox each Monday when you subscribe to Reform Voices of Torah.
8. Listen to a Jewish podcast.
Looking for something new to binge? There are plenty of Jewishly themed podcasts out there – including a few produced by ReformJudaism.org! Not sure where to start? Here are six Jewish podcasts to help you engage with your Judaism from home.
9. Say a prayer for those who are suffering.
We say the comforting words of the Mi Shebeirach, a prayer for healing, for those who are struggling with physical, emotional, or spiritual challenges – including the physical and mental health issues that are so prevalent amid the coronavirus pandemic.
10. Listen to Jewish music.
Now’s as good a time as any to start listening to contemporary Jewish rock music, if you don’t already. Head to JewishRockRadio.com or check out ReformJudaism.org’s Spotify playlists to find your new favorite tunes.
11. Watch a Jewish movie.
There are tons of flicks to choose from, but if you’re not sure where to begin, try this list of 10 films that celebrate the happy, sad, and hilarious of American Jewry. It was written for Jewish American History Month, but the movies are great all year long.
12. Try a new-to-you Jewish recipe.
Try "21 Jewish Recipes That Use Ingredients You Already Have at Home" or browse our many Jewish recipes to find your new favorite Jewish dish, from Ashkenazi staples to global Jewish cuisine to modern-day adaptations.
13. Tell a Jewish story.
Judaism has a rich tradition of passing down stories from one generation to the next. Check out the top episodes of Stories We Tell, a weekly storytelling podcast that teaches meaningful lessons and asks thought-provoking questions.
14. Do a Jewish activity with your kids.
Cooped up at home and running out of ideas? We’ve rounded up our favorite Jewishly inspired crafts, recipes, activities, videos, and more to keep your family occupied during days spent at home – all while learning about and embracing Judaism together.
15. Light Shabbat candles at home.
It’s traditional practice to light two candles on Shabbat, one symbolizing the idea of remembering the Sabbath (Ex. 20:8), the other symbolizing observance of the Sabbath (Deut. 5:12). When you light own, recite the blessing for lighting Shabbat candles.
16. Take a class about Judaism.
This live, weekly video conference class is designed for adults who want to gain a deeper understanding of Jewish life through a Reform lens. Check it out and register to join a class.
17. Advocate for social justice.
Check out the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism’s website to find a social issue that matters to you – then dive deep, learn more, and take action, whether it’s raising awareness, writing to Congress, joining a campaign, or all of the above.
18. Attend Shabbat services online.
In this time of physical distancing, we need not socially isolate, hundreds of Reform Jewish congregations offer live streaming Shabbat services, and other opportunities for connecting Jewishly. Find a congregation that livestream and join in from home.
19. Have a laugh at Jewish comedy.
“It’s hard to be sad when you’re laughing,” says comedian Shaun Eli Breidbart. “And even the Talmud prizes those who make people laugh.” From Lenny Bruce to Joan Rivers to the ladies of Broad City, Jews have always pushed the limits of comedy.
20. Do a mitzvah.
In Pirkei Avot, the rabbis wrote, “Mitzvah goreret mitzvah,” one mitzvah (commandment/good deed) leads to another. In this time when so many people are struggling, how can you do something good for another person? For the world?
21. Read Jewish poetry (then write your own).
American Jews have produced a rich variety of poetry, including Emma Lazarus’s “The New Colossus,” inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty. Read Israeli poems to help us through times of fear and isolation, then write your own six-word poetry for Passover.
22. Observe Havdalah.
Havdalah (Hebrew for “division” or “separation”) marks the formal end of Shabbat, separating it from the beginning of the new week. Learn about the history and the rituals of Havdalah, then try it yourself.
23. Do yoga.
Breathe in, breathe out… Rabbi Lisa Silverstein, a yogini, musician, and Israeli dancer, shares “‘Ten Commandments’ for Yoga Practice,” originally written for individuals who are new to yoga.
24. Identify your blessings.
Cantor Lauren Phillips Fogelman writes about how she's finding the "blessings of separation" in this challenging time. What are the blessings in your own life right now, even as things are so difficult?
25. Join a Jewish Facebook group.
In Grateful Heart, Joyous Soul, Precious Life, Jewish liturgist Alden Solovy posts daily prompts about gratitude; Jewish Response Against COVID-19 was created to “spread calm, awareness, and mutual aid faster than the spread of fear, anxiety, and grief.”
Kate Kaput is the assistant director, messaging and branding, on the Union for Reform Judaism's marketing and communications team. In this role, she serves as a content manager and editor for ReformJudaism.org.