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Virtual Shabbat Box

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Your Virtual Shabbat Box holds many ways to celebrate the day. Choose what nurtures you: listen, watch or read. Looking for Shabbat services? Check out Recon Connect for virtual Shabbat services and other live, online programs throughout the week.

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October 15-16

 

Listen: ‘Ometz Lev’ Meditation

This is a meditation to cultivate and integrate Ometz Lev, a “strong heart,” “courage.” The words of this opening niggun are a reminder that our strength comes from God and is sustained by the flow of spiritual goodness from the heavens. Sourced from Reset, providing Jewish activists with accessible spiritual practice and teachings.

 

Read: A Prayer for Human Rights

Rabbi David Freidenreich composed this prayer for T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights’ Human Rights Shabbat. Sourced from Ritualwell

Person with fist up leading protest

 

Listen: ‘Ahavat Olam’

This choral setting of Ahavat Olam by Will Robertson is performed by the Chorus of Congregation Bet Haverim (Atlanta). “When we sing this in services, we surround the congregation at the end of the piece and invite them to sing with us.” Sourced from ReconstructingJudaism.org

 

Read: Avraham, Happiness and God’s Open Hand

Ellen Dannin writes that Avraham’s life in parashat Lekh-Lekha reflects the key points of the Ashrei (Psalm145), and that examining the events in this portion against the Ashrei adds a new dimension to its events. Sourced from ReconstructingJudaism.org

Women smiling with arms outstretched

 

Listen: Hidden Jews in the 21st Century

In the past few decades, a growing number of the descendants of Jews who had been forced to flee, convert, or hide Jewish practices during the Inquisition have been seeking to reconnect with their Jewish roots. Rabbi Leila Gal Berner and Rabbi Barbara Aiello discuss the experience of hiding, fleeing, “coming out”, and returning. Sourced from Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish Conversations

building ruins in mountainous setting

 

October 8-9

 

Watch: Shema Prayer: American Sign Language and Hebrew

Rabbis Roni Handler and Darby Leigh chant the Sh’ma in Hebrew and ASL. Sourced from Ritualwell 

 

Read: ‘My Fig Tree’

In her poem, Nancie S. Martin recall Isaiah’s prophecy of peace and prosperity when each person will sit under their own vine and fig tree. Sourced from Ritualwell

fig tree silhouette with sunset

 

Listen: ‘Oseh Shalom’

Joanie Callem sings her original take on the prayer Oseh ShalomSourced from ReconstructingJudaism.org

 

Read: Symbolism of Rainbows

According to Rabbi Howard Cohen, what we witness in par’shat Noah is the remarkable evolving meaning of a common symbol of belligerency and violence into one of peace and reconciliation. Sourced from ReconstructingJudaism.org

rainbow over a field

 

Read: ‘A Fresh Look at Who We Are and What That Means

In this essay, Rabbi David Teutsch reflects that “when Reconstructionists talk about the centrality of Jewish peoplehood and Judaism as an evolving religious civilization ... we are saying that reinvigorating cultural life and acting on behalf of moral and social- justice concerns must be an integral part of what we do.” Sourced from Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish Conversations

star of david hanging in tree

 

 

October 1-2

 

Read: Ritual for Turning Off Devices Before Shabbat

There are many ways to observe Shabbat and taking 24 hours away from our devices (TVs, computers, smart phones, etc.) is one way to create a day of rest and peace. Elana Bell offers several ideas for how to mark this moment of unplugging. Sourced from Ritualwell

Three Jewish people sitting down with eyes closed

 

Listen: ‘V’Shamru’

Cantor Marcelo Gidlin sings the verses of Torah that are used in the Friday evening service to declare the holiness of Shabbat. Sourced from ReconstructingJudaism.org

 

Read: ‘Elohim Hayyim: On the Amidah

Devon Spier’s brief but intense poem/prayer can be an appropriate meditation for Shabbat B’reisheet as we re-encounter God in the story of Creation. Sourced from Ritualwell

silhouetted person sitting in front of hills with hands raised

 

Read: Kaplan on Creation: An Explanation of Jewish Mission

Mel Scult presents some of Mordecai Kaplan’s thoughts on the relationship between Creation and the special task and destiny of the Jewish people. Sourced from ReconstructingJudaism.org

Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan

 

Listen: In the Same Place, as the Same Person

Amanda Mbuvi, Ph.D., is the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College’s new vice president for academic affairs. A Hebrew Bible scholar and nonprofit leader, she is the first Jew of Color to hold such a leadership position at an American rabbinical seminary. Rabbis Deborah Waxman and Sandra Lawson delve into Mbuvi’s desire to deepen how people and communities think about diversity and identity. Sourced from HashivenuJewish Teachings on Resilience

 

 


 

July 30-31

 

Read: Erev

As Shabbat both begins and ends with transitions, Rabbi Annie Lewis acknowledges God as the artist of evening’s changes. Sourced from Ritualwell

Silhouetted person looking at the sunset above the ocean

 

Listen: ‘Hashkiveinu Lullaby’

This choral setting, by Will Robertson, of the Hashkiveinu prayer from the evening liturgy was originally a lullaby he wrote for his daughter when she was a baby. It is performed by the Chorus of Congregation Bet Haverim in Atlanta. Sourced from ReconstructingJudaism.org

Hashkiveinu Lullaby by Will Robertson

 

Read: Living the Good Life

Ellen Dannin suggests that it is about relieving suffering, being diligent about our obligation to live in a Godly way, being grateful for the good things that come our way while not assuming that we deserve them and instilling these understandings in the next generation. Sourced from ReconstructingJudaism.org

View of a beautiful seaside village

 

Listen: Spiritual Leadership in Times of Crisis

Rabbi Joshua Lesser explores the lessons he learned about community and vulnerability as an out gay rabbi during the height of the AIDS crisis and how that experience informs his work now. Sourced from Hashivenu: Jewish Teachings on Resilience

Hashivenu: Jewish Teachings on Resilience

 

Read: Havdalah Prayer for Holy Separations

With Trish Arlin’s Havdalah prayer, we praise the One who makes distinctions between the holy and the mundane. Sourced from Ritualwell

A candle being lit

 


July 23-24

 

Read: Comforting Light of Shekhinah 

Tisha B’Av is followed by Shabbat Nahamu, the Sabbath of Comfort. This meditation by Ariel Neshama Lee is inspired by two biblical passages and calls to mind the presence of the Shekhinah in our lives. Sourced from Ritualwell 

Sunlit green tree canopy viewed from below

 

Watch/Listen: ‘Tzadik Katamar’ (Psalm 92: 13-16) 

This virtual performance (Composer: David Alon Friedman) by Nashirah: The Jewish Chorale of Greater Philadelphia (Artistic Director: Dr. Julia Zavadsky; Collaborative Piano: Soyeon Bin) was recorded in May 2020 and is dedicated to the memory of Hannah Reich (March 2002–May 2020). Sourced from ReconstructingJudaism.org 

Tzadik Katamar - David Alon Friedman - Nashirah (Virtual)

 

Read: ‘Dance of the Twelve Sisters’: A Tu B’Av Story 

This story was written by Rabbi Jill Hammer for the full moon festival of Tu B’Av, a love and dancing holiday that comes six days after Tisha B’Av, the anniversary of the destruction of the two Temples in Jerusalem. Sourced from Ritualwell 

Partially silhouetted celebrants dancing

 

Read: The Ten Commandments 

Comparing the two versions of the commandments in Exodus and this week’s portion in Deuteronomy, Rabbi David Stern wonders what it was that God really was saying. Sourced from ReconstructingJudaism.org 

Two stone tablets with partially visible commandments

 

Watch: Recasting Our Images for an In-Person World 

As we get up from our Zoom screens, Rabbi Hugh Seid-Valencia helps us set an intention for re-entering public spaces and in-person relationships. Sourced from Recon Connect Beit Midrash 

Recasting Our Images for an In-Person World

 

 


July 16-17

 

Look: From Destruction to Restoration for Tisha B’Av

Julie Weinstein’s mixed-media image and its accompanying text evokes an interpretation of Tisha B’Av based on the concept of Whole Orchard Recycling. Sourced from Ritualwell

mixed-media college with images of eyes, almonds, growing plants against a wooden lattice, with text "destroying" and "building" handwritten on either side


 

Read: Out of Isolation

Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg introduces the rituals of Tisha B’Av, and how they help us mourn and express grief. Sourced from Ritualwell

man hugging two children


 

Listen: Eli Tziyon

Rabbi Alan LaPayover chants several verses of one of the most well-known of the kinot (liturgical poems for Tisha B’Av). An alphabetical acrostic describing the destruction of Jerusalem, it is recited towards the conclusion of kinot due to the hopeful note in the comparison of Zion to a woman about to give birth, thought by many to be a messianic reference. Sourced from ReconstructingJudaism.org

Eli Tziyon by Reconstructing Judaism


 

Read: A Contemporary Kinah for Tisha B’Av

The process of mourning on Tisha B’Av may be alien to us. But Barbara Kavadias’s poem suggests that “we do not retell the things that befell us all on one day to comfort us. We funnel it down to one day as a telescope, as a magnifying glass to focus us, so that we do not turn away from baseless hatred, where we did not love our neighbor as ourselves.” Sourced from Ritualwell

seedling sprouting in desert soil


 

Read: Shabbat Hazon

In this d'var Torah on the Shabbat preceding Tisha B’Av, Rabbi Richard Hirsh teaches us that “the observance of Tisha B’Av is an opportunity to re-examine the adaptive theology whereby generations of Jews managed to persevere in the face of adversity, oppression, even destruction.” Sourced from ReconstructingJudaism.org


Jerusalem ruins

 

 


July 9-10

 

Listen: ‘I Will Carry You — V’Ad Seva

Inspired by Isaiah 46:4 (“When you turn gray, it is I who will carry … I will carry and rescue you”), Rena Bransson composed this song. She reflects, “It’s about learning to hold myself and having my own back, and sometimes feeling like the universe is holding me, too.” Sourced from ReconstructingJudaism.org

I Will Carry You/V'ad Seva — Inspired by Isaiah 46:4 by Rena Branson

 

Read: Shabbat in Berlin

Sara Stock Mayo remembers standing in the courtyard of Berlin’s once great New Synagogue at dusk on erev Shabbat. Sourced from Ritualwell 

Berlin skyline

 

Watch: Meditation on Hesed and Breath

Rabbi Jacob Staub leads this breathing meditation into the realm of hesed, of lovingkindness.  Sourced from Ritualwell

Meditation on Hesed - Staub

 

Read: Making the Epic Personal

In this d'var Torah, Rabbi Lewis Eron teaches us that, by providing us with one small but significant personal memory, Moses has made the Torah’s epic narrative of God and the Israelites into a very human story of him and his people — our people — that still touches our hearts and moves our souls. Sourced from ReconstructingJudaism.org

Hiker overlooking valley

 

Listen: Creating a Jewish Community Where All Can Thrive

Marcella White Campbell, executive director of Be’chol Lashon, discusses her multiracial Jewish family’s experiences as a window into the Jewish community’s troubled record of welcoming Jews of Color, and reflects on the interplay of her Jewish and Black identities in making meaning at a time of personal loss. Sourced from ReconstructingJudaism.org
 

Hashivenu: Jewish Teachings on Resilience

 


July 2-3

 

Read: Healing for our Nation

On this Independence Day (July 4), dedicated to the proposition that we are all created equal, let us join Rabbi Jen Gubitz in praying for the health and healing of our country. Sourced from Ritualwell

 

American flag

 

 

Read: On Re-entering Sacred Space after the Quarantine

As our synagogues reopen for communal services, Trisha Arlin reminds us of all that we have missed and look forward to re-experiencing. Sourced from Ritualwell

Four people standing close to one another in conversation

 

Listen: Emet M’Eretz Titzmach

From Gayanne Deurin comes this message for listening at this critical time in humankind's relationship to the Earth: an interpretation of Psalm 85:12, “For all truths emanate from the earth.” Sourced from ReconstructingJudaism.org

Mx-GG Emet '20.0827 MIX 3 EMET by Gayanne Geurin

 

Read: The Next Generation

Commenting on parashat Pinkhas, Rabbi David Steinberg reminds us that “we retain a connection to our loved ones who have died through all that they have taught us and shared with us when they were here with us in the flesh.” Sourced from ReconstructingJudaism.org

gray-haired man holding bundled-up toddler

 

Watch: Jewish Particularism and Universalism

In this enriching conversation, Rabbis Deborah Waxman and Shmuly Yanklowitz focus on the things that traditional and Reconstructionist Jews have in common, the challenges that social distancing is posing to community, and ways that Jewish practice can bolster resilience. Sourced from ReconstructingJudaism.org

Jewish Particularism & Universalism: R' Deborah Waxman interviewed by R' Shmuly Yanklowitz

 


These resources were drawn from:

 

Previous Virtual Shabbat Boxes by month: