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Virtual Shabbat Box

Virtual Shabbat Box | Resources For You

Your Virtual Shabbat Box holds many ways to celebrate the day. Choose what nurtures you: listen, watch or read.

March 24-25

This easy-to-follow cooking video and recipe for an Iraqi Seder staple will be sure to whet your appetite.

Table with kubba and other dishes

Rabbi Michael Strassfeld, who 50 years ago edited the seminal Jewish Catalogue, says it’s time to disrupt the Passover Seder. He starts with four new questions.

A seder table with plants and dishes.

This newly updated resource offers ideas and additions for all 15 steps of the Passover Seder, making great additions to any Haggadah.

Virtual Passover Box

In retelling a poignant story about the founder of the Mussar movement, Adva Chattler’s new kavannah helps us think about how actions impact other people and the environment. It’s intended for the Seder’s second ritual handwashing.

close-up of a Black person washing their hands in a white sink.

March 17-18

Rabbinical student Stephanie Breitsman shares her Reconstructionist journey and how she has found new meaning in the words of Torah by connecting to the physical scroll and becoming a sofer.

Rabbinical student Stephanie Breitsman

This message from Rabbi Deborah Waxman and the accompanying report detail how Reconstructing Judaism is cultivating the resilience needed for people and communities to bring about a more just and meaningful world.

FY2022 Annual Report cover

With Passover just around the corner, we turn to Yocheved, whose voice does not appear in Exodus, but thanks to Rabbi Sonya K. Pilz, it can be heard loud and clear in this moving poem.

The back of a woman in a striped dress outside at sunset

Rabbi Arthur Waskow, who turns 90 later this year, spoke in 2021 about the origins of the Freedom Seder and what it means today.

Podcast cover: Liberating Your Passover Seder

March 10-11

As we close the Megillah on Purim and look ahead to Passover, Rabbi Vivie Mayer sheds new light in comparing the festivals.

An assortment of colorful Purim masks, groggers, and hamentashen

Rabbi Daniel Swarz connects the dots from a rafting trip to thinking about life’s big questions, to working with the pope on climate change activism.

Podcast cover image: The Grand Canyon, Evolution and Pope Francis

Written for Israel’s most recent anniversary, this revised prayer by Rabbi David Seidenberg feels especially relevant as Israel spirals into civil unrest in violence. Rescue all of Your land, from the Jordan River to the sea, from the spilling of blood, and all of her inhabitants and sojourners.”

A family celebrating Israel's anniversary with Israeli flags at a picnic table

For some of us, our days are divided into two (or three or four) cups of coffee. Shaul Kelner’s original blessing helps imbue a daily ritual with holiness.

A woman with long dark hair drinks coffee from a white mug

March 3-4

Rabbi Mira Wasserman shares a Talmudic story that demonstrates human commonalities across religions, cultures and time itself.

A silhouette of a person framed by an opening in a stone wall

Rabbinical student Nicole Fix juxtaposes the weekly Torah portion with the Purim story. By shining a light on injustice, each text in its own way brings more holiness to the world.

Close up on multiple people of different races raising their fists.

Hiding and deception play key roles in the Purim story, reflected in two traditional Iraqi treats. Never tried Sambusak and B’ab’a B’tamer? Now is your chance to make them from scratch.

Iraqi Purim treats on a plate, with a mug of tea and a vase of flowers

Rabbi Emily Cohen explains that, sometimes, we don’t really learn who we are until we pretend to be somebody else. There’s something liberating about dressing up for Purim.

The word PUNK spray-painted on a concrete wall

February 24-25

Rabbinical student Stephanie Breitsman shares how learning sofrut (scribal arts), and writing her own Megillat Esther, is deepening her relationship to our sacred literature.

A piece of paper with handwritten Hebrew script on it and a quill pen

Participants in a pilgrimage for Black Reconstructionists share their experiences. “In the Torah,” says Koach Baruch Frazier, “it says that you must go, so that you can be seen and, some say, so that you can be seen by God and that you see God.” (Originally in the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent.)

Participants in a recent Reconstructionist pilgrimage for Jews of African descent visit the Legacy Museum in Montgomery, AL.

Drawing on the wisdom of the Prophet Micah, Rabbi Barbara Penzer shows how loving encounters with others, sensing their pain, can help bring about a more just world.

A group of multicultural young adults sitting in a circle talking

Rabbi Jeremy Schwartz offers Reconstructionist language for wrapping tefillin. This prayer helps people connect to forces greater than themselves, including the wonders of the natural world.

Close-up of a person with tefillin wrapped around their arm holding a prayer book.

February 16-17

Joel Hecker, Ph.D., professor of Jewish mysticism at RRC, shares 10 aspects of luminosity outlined in kabbalistic literature. In this teaching on mysticism, he names different manifestations of the Divine presence.

A bright light shining in the dark sky

Borrowing from the Havdalah ritual, this prayer can help all parents create a sense of separation between the workday — wherever that happens physically — from the work of raising children. This ritual offers, for at least a moment, a liminal space to pause.

A mother holding and kissing a baby outside near trees

Isabelle Wilkinson’s magisterial narrative of the Great Migration may be ideal reading for Black History Month, or any time of year. In examining how his own life diverged from that of one of the book’s African American protagonists, Rabbi Benjamin Barnett offers a window into race and religion in urban America.

Aerial view of the Chicago skyline at sunset

Bummed that the Super Bowl and NFL season are over? Don’t worry, you can delve into the links between athletic competition, training, spiritual practice and Torah. Rabbi Jason Bonder, an RRC graduate who has played professional baseball and competed in triathlons, brings us along on his quest to merge to key aspects of his life.

The Dual Meaning of "Practice": Explaining Judaism to Athletes

February 10-11

In honor of Evolve’s five-year anniversary, Rabbi Alex Weissman tackles the problematic theme in Jewish tradition of equating light with goodness and dark with evil.

Sunlight filtering through the trees in a forest

Legal scholars and activists Gila Stopler and Yofi Tirosh explain threats posed by the new governing coalition to Israeli democracy, urging listeners abroad not only to care, but to engage.

Podcast cover image: The Israeli Government's War on Women

February is Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month. This blessing honors the people and communities making Jewish life and experience more accessible and embracing.

A blonde woman embracing a man in a wheelchair

Rabbi Elliot Kukla explores how trauma and disability represent essential aspects of being human.

Silhouette of a person using a wheelchair outdoors at sunrise

This gathering of resources explains RRC’s open policy on rabbis with non-Jewish partners, placing within it the context of trends in contemporary Jewish and spiritual life.

The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote, Pa.

February 3-4

This original music video honors the literal act of planting as well as the metaphorical planting undertaken by each generation to create flourishing Jewish communities.

The words "I am Planting" overlaid on grass and bushes

Writing about climate crisis and environmental racism, Rabbi Julie Greenberg reminds us to say “Yes” to life, to love and to nature — to be fully human and in community with others even as we face unprecedented challenges.

View of the earth from space

This ritual, for planting a tree in honor of a child, is a physical act that cultivates the celebration of new life. It also symbolizes the interconnectedness of living beings.

Two hands cupping a small seedling in dirt

In this podcast, Rabbi David Seidenberg teaches that the central purpose of the Torah is to ensure that people live in harmony with the environment and other living things.

Podcast episode cover: Special Live Episode: Addressing Global Climate Disruption Through Torah

February is Jewish Disability, Awareness and Inclusion Month. Revisit this in-depth piece that details the many ways Reconstructionist communities practice inclusion.

Paper dolls of different ethnicities and abilities above Scrabble tiles that spell out "Inclusion"

Rabbi Deborah Waxman defends pluralism and democracy, and opposes ethnonationalism, in Israel, the United States and everywhere.

Photo of Rabbi Deborah Waxman

January 27-28

Poet Hila Ritzabi, who leads Ritualwell.org, offers a little Tu B’Shvat 101 and then steps into the great outdoors to recite a powerful poem about climate change and the redemptive power of nature. It is sure to enhance your observance of the New Year of Trees.

A person touching tree bark with the video name text over top

In this podcast, Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb and Rabbi Deborah Waxman explore the ways in which Jewish tradition and ecological consciousness provide compelling models for resilience and sustainability.

Podcast episode cover for Ecology

Created for the purpose of a Tu B’Shvat seder, this ritual explores the kabbalistic symbolism of the number four. Specifically, the four elements: Earth, water, fire and air.

A Black woman in a blue dress meditating outdoors

The Reconstructionist movement calls for collective teshuvah and repentance. Read about the democratic, deliberative process behind this moral call for reflection and action.

Illustration of six women on the back of a turtle with the words: unity, peace, sovereignty, accountability, restoration, equity

Rabbi Alex Weissman’s inspiring journey brought him to the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College as a student. Now he’s back to teach future rabbis.

Headshot of Rabbi Alex Weissman

January 20-21

This stirring poem by Trisa Arlin confronts nature’s destructive power, yet finds hope in the power of individuals and communities to survive, assist and comfort.

A flooded road blocked off by a sign that says Road Closed by Flood

Sharing a personal story, Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann illustrates how mental illness must be treated as a normal part of life freed from secrecy and silence, the places where shame lives and festers.

Silhouette in blue light of a person bent over in a chair

While there are no specific ancient traditional rituals for welcoming a baby girl into the community, many families have found ways to fill that void. This short, animated video explores some of the new traditions.

Two adult sets of hands forming a heart shape around a pair of baby feet

Marcella White Cambell discusses her multiracial Jewish family’s experiences as a window into the Jewish community’s troubled record in welcoming Jews of Color.

Podcast title page: Creating a Jewish Community Where All Can Thrive

Centuries of living in slavery and oppression crushed the Israelite spirit. Rabbi Lewis Eron writes about how “the years of bondage undermined the Israelites’ self-confidence. Rebuilding his people’s spirit was the challenge that Moses would face for the rest of his life.”

The sun shining over a mountain range

January 13-14

Rabbi Annie Lewis’s poem takes off on a line from Lucille Clifton: “I am running into a new year ….”

A silhouetted woman in a dress opening double doors into the outdoors.

A new year begins, and we all become a little older. Judith Kerman looks to the stars seeking a “misty field above my head in the dark” and yearns for that place “where everything becomes clear.”

Person in a headwrap sitting on a hill looking up at a pink, purple, and orange night sky

Reconstructionist leader Marc Overbeck watched the most recent Israeli election returns with mounting concern regarding the future of a democratic Israel. In this podcast, he raises up two idealistic thinkers — Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan and Theodor Herzl — and offers an impassioned defense of the idea of democratic government as a force for good.

Podcast Cover: The State of Democracy in Israel and the U.S.

In this d’var Torah, Rabbi Lewis Eron teaches that “the understanding that leaders can be caught in their own lies helps us understand the biblical expression for pharaonic stubbornness — “his heart was hardened” — and serves as an object lesson for all those who find themselves in positions of leadership and power.”

A collection of stones wit one heart-shaped gray stone towards the bottom left

Multifaith dialogue has the power not just to build bridges of understanding, but to foster personal spiritual growth and transformation. Rabbi Deborah Waxman speaks with Rabbi Nancy Fuchs Kreimer and Professor Sa’’ed Atshan, a Palestinian Quaker Christian, about their experiences in multifaith work.

Podcast title slide: Multifaith Encouters

January 6-7

Adva Chattler offers a new ritual and meditations to follow Shabbat candle-lighting, derived from a teaching in Midrash Bereishit Rabbah.

A woman with short dark hair covering her eyes in front of lit Shabbat candles

In their meditation on the metaphor and meaning of darkness, Kendra Watkins, whose grandfather Bill is an astronomer, says that “darkness is as old as G!d G!dself.”

A view of space with one very bright blue light among lots of stars

This d’var Torah by Rabbi James Greene was written for Martin Luther King Jr. weekend several years ago and refers to specific events occurring at the time it was written. However, its insights remain relevant more than a decade later.

Close-up on the Bible at the start of Genesis

Rabbi Sid Schwarz, author of Jewish Megatrends, discusses the phenomenon of “tribal Jews” and “culture Jews,” and the how the two groups, which largely break down along generational lines, view Jewish life very differently. He also shares lessons learned from his nearly 40 years in the rabbinate.

TrendingJewish podcast title card: Talkin' 'bout my Generation

Sundown, twilight, nightfall. Devon Spier evokes the power and importance of this liminal time, especially around Shabbat.

A landscape of rocks and trees silhouetted against a purple sky at twilight

December 30-31

Bryan Schwartzman reports on the pilgrimage to the South for Jews of African descent who serve as leaders of the Reconstructionist movement. Participants were able to engage in healing work and visit sites imbued with trauma within a Jewish and Black context.

A group of Black people talking in an art gallery

President Joe Biden just signed into law the Respect for Marriage Act protecting the rights of same-sex and interracial couples to marry. Hila Ratzabi marks this historic occasion with a joyful blessing.

Two brides kissing under a chuppah with a rabbi in the background

Though we continue to Zoom across geography, Jessica Moise-Grodsky’s blessing for scheduling a “Zoom Shabbat dinner” with some distant family, which she composed about two years ago in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, remains relevant for us today.

A Black woman on a video call with six other people on a desktop computer

Rabbis Annie Lewis and Yosef Goldman created this ritual to mark the occasion of the first yahrzeit (anniversary of the death) of a loved one in one’s home, after sundown on the night of the yahrzeit.

a collection of polished stones, one in the middle with an etching that says Remember

Tiferet Welch’s poem drashes on what she sees to be the essence of this week’s par’shah: The truth-telling of family can be a complicated business.”

A person silhouetted against the sky with their arms outstretched

December 23-24

This year Hanukkah and Kwanza overlap. According to Dr. Tarece Johnson, “these celebrations are an opportunity for us to reconnect with our community and remember the miracles of light, love and hope.”

A young Black family celebrating Kwanzaa and Hanukkah

Rabbi Jessica Lott teaches about the apocryphal story of Judith, a Jewish hero whose story is connected to Hanukkah.

Illustration of the Biblical figure Judith

Rabbi Jill Hammer explains that in North African countries, the seventh night of Hanukah, Judith’s night of triumph, was set aside as Hag haBanot, the “Festival of the Daughters,” which falls on Rosh Hodesh Tevet.

A young child lighting a menorah with 7 candles

Ariel Neshame Lee created this meditation for the eighth night of Hanukkah, when we light eight candles. In Jewish mysticism, the number eight represents pure potentiality, transcendence, infinity.

Abstract image of yellow lights on a dark background

The story of Hanukkah invites us to kindle lights in the darkness, and to overcome despair with hope and action. In this spirit, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum reflects on the extraordinary work of her community, and how it embodies the fundamental connection between spiritual life and social activism.

Podcast cover for Activism

December 16-17

Rabbi Jason Bonder discusses hanukkiyot, the Hanukkah menorah, and shows how to light the candles for the holiday.

Close-up of someone wearing a talit lighting the menorah

Adva Chattler guides you in making a family Hanukkah favorite and cousin to the latke aruk  as a delicious way to remember the miracle of the oil.

Fried vegetable patties

Bryan Schwartzman shows how the entire history of Hanukkah and its observance demonstrates the Reconstructionist understanding that Judaism is “the evolving religious civilization of the Jewish people.”

Black and white historical photo of an elderly Jewish man doing a construction project

Maoz Tzur (“Rock of Ages”), is a Hanukkah classic. Rabbi Alan LaPayover demonstrates how a Reconstructionist take on this medieval poem reframes our understanding of the Festival of Lights.

Video still of lit candles

We invite you to recite the Hanukkah blessings, composed by Kolot: The Center for Jewish Women’s and Gender Studies, on at least one night this year using the feminine pronouns for God. Does your sense of the Divine shift?

A young girl with an older woman wearing a kippah

These discussion starters by Solomon Hoffman are as relevant now as they were in 2016. How do we grapple with and respond to this moment in America and more deeply explore each of our own identities?

Glass menorah with red candles against a blue background

Using this Hanukkah folktale, George Kelley explores how sometimes when seeking justice, we need to find how to get out of our own way.

video still of multicolored candles

Cara Hamilton likes to read a poem at the moment the candles go out, a bit of solitude when the lights are gone.

Black and white photo of a menorah

December 9-10

As the days get shorter and darker, Rabbi Janet Madden’s poem anticipates the illumination that will come with the “Festival of Lights.”

Lit candles in a dark space with plant branches

Rabbi Jay Michaelson separates myth from fact and explains why Jacob Frank’s radical philosophy may have been a precursor to how many non-Orthodox Jews relate to the tradition today.

Podcast cover image: The Heretic

This week’s Torah portion, Vayishlah, contains the story of the reconciliation between Isaac’s sons, Jacob and Esau. Rabbi Lewis Eron teaches how reconciliation goes hand-in-hand with spiritual maturity and emotional growth.

Three Black men in pastel shirts standing close together and laughing

Rabbi Shelia Peltz Weinberg guides us in imagining a star in the sky — warm, soothing light just for you.

Soundcloud cover image of stars in the sky

In this poem, Tiferet Welch has taken some of the mystical meanings of the Hebrew letters of Shir Hashirim, “The Song of Songs,” and written them into stanzas.

Brightly colored Hebrew letters on a dark background

December 2-3

The time of Covid has changed religious communities. And according to the Rev. Katie Day two high-profile events and the rise of antisemitism (and all hate crimes) have transformed our understanding of security. But is it in ways we would rather not have changed?

Letter blocks spelling Stay Safe

In the wake of recent shootings Alden Solovy’s poem is all too timely and relevant again and speaks to our communal grief, anger and exasperation.

lit votive candle in the snow

Rabbi Sheila Peltz Weinberg leads this meditation, which is a good practice anytime that you find yourself stressed, confused or fearful.

Field of wildflowers

From a conversation preceding the holiday of Shavu’ot Rabbis Jeremy Schwartz and Deborah Waxman speak about modern Hebrew poetry and how modern Hebrew poets take apart traditional language and ideas and create something new from ancient building blocks.

Podcast image: Hebrew Poetry

As a nod to our father Jacob, who dreamed a dream of angels, we present this poem by Suzanne Sabransky.

Person sitting on a mountaintop looking out over a mountain range

November 25-26

Performed by Dr. Koach Baruch Frazier and Marques Hollie for Reconstructing the Voice of Leadership: A Day of Giving to Support Jews of Color.

Dr. Koach Baruch Frazier and Marques Hollie performing a song

Terry Boyle’s poem takes off on Jacob’s dream of angels ascending and descending a ladder (Genesis 28:12-22).

Silhouette of a later extending toward a star-filled night sky

Rabbi Gila Colman Ruskin reconstructs the Thanksgiving celebration in her poem that bears witness to the experiences of the Wampanoag people of Massachusetts Bay.

Autumn leaves

Rabbi Deborah Glanzberg-Krainin teaches: “On Thanksgiving, I acknowledge all that I have and pray that we will all have more to be thankful for next year.”

People eating in front of a fireplace

Says Rabbi Hisda in the Talmud: “A dream not explored is like a letter not read.” This exercise, guided by Rabbi Haviva Ner-David, is an invitation to read our own messages to ourselves, brought to us in the form of our dreams.

Sourced from Reset, providing Jewish activists with accessible spiritual practice and teachings.

Four candles with shimmering lights

November 18-19

Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Hermann composed this prayer for the current election season, “so that democracy can work as it should, a holy exchange between the governing and the governed.”

Voters at a polling location.

Reconstructing Judaism commissioned two Black Jewish artists affiliated with the movement — Ayeola Omolara Kaplan and Marjorie Attingol Salvodon — to respond to last year’s Movement Wide Day of Learning on Reparations. Those works were installed on the walls of the Reconstructing Rabbinical College’s suburban Philadelphia building during a Sept. 7 program and made a part of its permanent collection.

Mural for the Movement Wide Day of Learning on Reparations featuring Jews of color

Rabbi Daniel Raphael Silverstein leads this meditation based on the teaching of the Hassidic master, Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev, that we should strive to make our relationship with the Divine more like that with a loving parent than like that with a king or sovereign.

A group of rocks positioned so the negative space creates a heart shape

According to Rabbi Lewis Eron, “by telling us so little about Abraham’s peaceful second life, our ancestors did not write Abraham out of the story but gave him and us the opportunity to explore the special blessings we can find as we live our second lives.”

A man walking through a historical site in Israel

Tiferet Welch’s prayer/poem reflects on the stories and themes of this week’s Torah portion, Hayyei Sarah.

A woman in a dress standing in a shallow lake

November 11-12

Shekhinah Speaks, by Joy Ladin, gives voice to the Divine Feminine by remixing language from the book of Isaiah and Cosmopolitan magazine. There Are Still Woods by Hila Ratzabi is an urgent, prayerful book of poems responding to the climate crisis and includes the voices of spirits, gods and goddesses from a variety of sources.

Cover image for Voices of the Divine Feminine, with speaker headshots over a field of flowers

Autumn becomes most evident during this month, which is celebrated in Ann Kanter’s sensual poem.

Close-up of colorful fall leaves

This “Essence” is taken from the Sourcebook for Leaders, written by Rabbi Rachel Gartner and Barbara Berley Melits, for Rosh Hodesh: It’s a Girl Thing, a program created by Kolot: The Center for Jewish Women’s and Gender Studies to strengthen the Jewish identity and self-esteem of adolescent girls through monthly celebrations of the New Moon festival.

an autumn tablescape with a brown cloth and orange pumpkin

Rabbi Steven Nathan teaches that this story can serve as a warning to us today: The desire for wealth and security is a natural and healthy drive, but if we are not careful, it can overtake us and, in its extreme form, threaten us with economic and social destruction.

A $100 bill on fire

Deep belly breaths led by Rabbi Sheila Peltz Weinberg connect us to nishmat kol hai, the “Breath of Life” that animates all creation.

woman with short hair with her eyes closed in a wooded area

November 4-5

Alexandra Corwin, a noted educator and organizer with Ashkenazi, Peruvian and Quechua heritages, will delve into why Jews of Color need affinity spaces and how such spaces can benefit all Jewish communities.

Title Card for podcast episode The Need for Affinity Spaces for Jews of Color

The Torah portion begins the saga of our ancestors. Amy Steingart’s poem evokes all of those who came before her.

Young woman with her eyes closed standing outside with mountains in the background

Rabbi Jonathan Kligler teaches that as Abraham’s spiritual journey continues, the commitment he makes to be vulnerable and open is going to allow himself and Sarah to conceive a child, to be vessels of life.

Silhouette of young woman meditating outside at sunrise

This experimental immersive theater piece by Logan Schulman uses music, stage directions and pointed narration to craft a soundscape that engages the listener’s heart and mind. Sourced from Reset, providing Jewish activists with accessible spiritual practice and teachings.

Soundcloud cover of Vanderning

We remember the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh with Shoshana Lovett-Graff’s poem, crying out for our silence to be heard in the sirens, the whistles, the echoes and the sighs.

A tree in the middle of a green field with a blue sky above

October 28-29

While appropriate at all times, this prayer by Rabbi David Mevorach Seidenberg is particularly suitable during the week that the Torah portion chapters about Noah are read.

Sunrise over a mountain range from a distance

On Shabbat Sukkot, 5783, Rabbi Deborah Waxman, president and CEO of Reconstructing Judaism, spoke at Philadelphia’s Congregation Mishkan Shalom. She focused on how Jewish practices and rituals cultivate resilience within individuals and communities, sustaining the Jewish people through the ages.

Rabbi Deborah Waxman, president and CEO of Reconstructing Judaism

Xava De Cordova explores the ethical question: Does Judaism have anything to say about remembering people who have hurt others and speaking honestly while avoiding lashon hara (derogatory speech)?

A lit memorial candle

Poet and director of Ritualwell Hila Ratzabi discusses creativity and the role it plays in her life and its valuable place in Jewish civilization.

Quoute: "It's empowering to write one's own prayers and to create space for people who never had a voice in Judaism. To me, that inclusive spirit is very much the place that I wanted to be in as a Jew and a writer, and I think that's what we are doing at Ritualwell."

Martin Hasan presents a non-theistic ceremony for marking the end of Shabbat and the return to ordinary week.

A lit havdalah candle in front of a bouquet of flowers

October 21-22

The Rev. Wil Gafney, biblical scholar and Episcopal priest, paints a more accurate picture of our Afro-Asiatic forebearers, making a case that engaging with the racist history of biblical criticism and Western art is key to forging a more just future.

Whitewashing Biblical Characters

Shahanna MicKinney-Baldon, a Reconstructing Judaism board member, portrays Madame Goldye Steiner, a Black cantor who performed traditional Jewish music a century ago.

Shahanna McKinney-Baldon

“It is our work in the world with the people in our lives,” teaches Rabbi Steven Nathen, “that enable us to find God. Only then can we truly be rewarded with the experience of the holiness and peace that is represented by Shabbat.

Challah and candles

In this poem, Cathleen Cohen reflects on the creation story of Genesis 2 and wonders:Don’t we all have seeds of paradise within us?”

Woman facing an abstract blue paint splatter

Shabbat completed the work of Divine creation. Rabbi James Stone Goodman offers this prayer to complete our own work.

Person sitting with coffee writing in notebook

September 16-17

Leslea Haravon Collins’s poem plays on the phrase re-nefesh (to “re-ensoul”), coined by Alan Lew in his book, This Is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared.

Silhouetted person with backpack pausing mid-hike in front of sunset

There is a Jewish tradition of immersing in a mikveh before Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Lisa Braun Glazer presents this opportunity to prepare oneself to enter this time of renewal.

Young woman swimming in a lake

This video of Solomon Hoffman’s (rabbinic leader of Mishkan Ha’am (Westchester, N.Y., and RRC student) setting of Psalm 147 has been played in services around the world and was profiled by the public-radio program “Interfaith Voices.”

Art print of heart with leaf emerging

In this week’s d’var Torah, Rabbi Jonathan Kliger teaches that, as they enter the Promised Land, the Israelites “will not be able to build a trustworthy community unless each one of them is able to monitor their own moral choices … and take responsibility for his or her own actions, whether or not anyone else will ever know.”

Young man sitting with head down and hands together with reflection in glass window

Noted historian Jack Wertheimer discusses his research into how “ordinary” Jews are experiencing Judaism in the 21st century.

#Trending Jewish 24: The New American Judaism

September 9-10

This poem by Maia Conrad marks “the grace of a dedicated separation between the mundane and the sacred, prescribed by G-d’s compassion” to restore the soul’s tranquility.

two candles in wooden box with heart-shaped windows

This setting for the opening lines of Psalm 27 the penitential Psalm, which in Jewish tradition is recited every day in the month before Rosh Hashanah is sung by Rabbi Dayle Friedman and accompanied by Peter Simpkins.

looking up at tree branches in front of blue sky

Rabbi Josh Snyder offers a ritual to bless our animal friends as a hillula an annual rejoicing on the anniversary of the death of an important Rabbi for Rav Avraham Yitzchak Ha-Kohen Kook (1864-1935), the first Chief Rabbi of Eretz Yisrael, who envisioned the Messianic age as a time when all would be vegetarian, and no animal sacrifices would be offered.

dogs sitting in the grass

In his comments on this week’s Torah portion, Rabbi Lewis Eron teaches that “in time, all the material blessings promised by Torah will fade. What is good and lasting in the Torah are the words themselves and the actions they demand.”

open Torah

Rabbi Kevin Bernstein has performed hundreds of b’rit milah ceremonies. In this segment, he responds to critics who question the safety and continued relevance of circumcision, including our two prior guests, Gary Shteyngart and Max Buckler, and attempts to demystify and explain what happens at a b’rit milah.

Rethinking the circumcision part 2 with rabbi kevin bernstein

August 12-13

Janice Steinberg wrote this blessing influenced by a book by psychologist Miriam Greenspan about the alchemy of Healing Through the Dark Emotions. She asks, “How do we get in the mud with the ‘oogy’ feelings and find the treasure?”

Sun coming up over the trees

On this Shabbat Nahamu/Shabbat of Comfort, Rabbi Lewis Eron writes:, “We do not have the insight to foresee the final resolution of the many complicated issues that confound the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians. We can, however, pray with the words of the Psalmist that our prophet’s vision of a Jerusalem prosperous, secure and at peace will someday be realized.”

Sunset over a valley

In the first of a two-part series examining circumcision, two critics of the practice best-selling novelist and memoirist Gary Shteyngart and Max Buckler, author of the Evolve essay, “Be Honest About the Bris” discuss circumcision from the perspective of morality, Jewish tradition, medicine gender norms, and the rights of parents and children.

Rethinking circumcision

This Havdalah ceremony, based on an ancient minhag (custom) of going to a natural spring or well after Shabbat, and drawing and drinking water, was created by Martha Hurwitz and Rabbi Janet Madden.

Two women with goblets

This panel focuses on how creative works the works of art, drama, music, and the like can be called forth to meet our experiences of God/divinity/holiness.

Watch: ‘God Through Our Hands/Hiddur Mitzvah’

August 5-6

“Anxiety, violence and despair engulfed her world,” writes Rabbi Janet Madden as she describes the Shekhinah’s response to learning of the destruction of the Temple. This Tisha b’Av, her poem speaks to us as we “journey from destruction to destruction.”

Woman sitting in the desert

In his d’var Torah on the opening chapters of Deuteronomy, Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben says:, “Here we find our greatest and most humble leader, Moses, at the end of his life, having just as much difficulty accepting responsibility for the consequences of his decisions as the rest of us.”

Group of people hanging out on the beach

Rabbi Jacob Staub explores the observance of Tisha B’Av and the value of dwelling on ancient tragedies.

Man with eyes closed in prayer or contemplation

Bryan Schwartzman profiles newly graduated Rabbi Alanna “Lonnie” Kleinman.

Seth Rosen, chair of Reconstructing Judaism's Board of Governors, stands next to Rabbi Alanna "Lonnie" Kleinman and Rabbi Deborah Waxman, Ph.D. president and CEO of Reconstructing Judaism.

Zoe Greenberg talks about what it is like to be a reporter and researcher for The New York Times, why she got into journalism at a time when the traditional business model for newspapers has broken down, what it is like to be raised by a Reconstructionist rabbi, and what millennials are looking for in Jewish community and Jewish experiences.

Text on blue wavy background that says #TrendingJewish 19: Old School Reporting"

July 29-30

Martha Hurwitz created this prayer as a member of a very small synagogue with just a few children. Most of the parents seemed uncomfortable when the rabbi initiated a ritual for them to bless their children, so she thought it would be more comfortable if everyone joined in.

A multi-ethnic family with two parents and a little girl smiling

Sarah Schmerler offers this art project for the Nine Days, a period of semi-mourning observed by religious Jews that begins on Rosh Hodesh Av and culminates in a full fast day known as Tisha BAv.

Letter blocks spelling "TISHA B'AV"

The final portion of Bamidbar, Mas’ey or Journeys, begins with a lengthy recounting of every encampment to which the Children of Israel sojourned during the past 40 years. Looking at the names of these places, Rabbi Jonathan Kliger notes that they are heavy with symbolism: Are they real places or states of being?

A woman in a yellow jacket and brown hat walking down a road with green fields on either side

Rabbi Benjamin Weiner explores the ways that traditional Hebrew prayers can provide meaningful spiritual experiences for those who neither understand Hebrew nor believe in a God who hears and responds to our prayers.

bare trees under a dark blue sky

Claudia Horwitzs lifes work has focused on integrating spiritual practice with the work of social change. In this conversation, she shares the strains that socialjustice work can inflict on activists and articulates the importance of deep inner work in anchoring and sustaining individuals and groups in their work of tikkun olam.

Cover of the podcast episode The Spiritual Activist

July 22-23

Begin Shabbat with Maia Conrad’s prayer to mark the holiness of this moment.

Shabbat candles, challah, and wine on a wood table

Rabbi David G. Winship prays,May our courts, our places of power, our streets fill with those who know the price, and who will make change.”

Trees at sunset

According to Rabbi Richard Hirsh, this week’s portion asserts that “the Torah teaches that transitions are inevitable and that the key is to manage them in ways that support continuity, involve the consent of the community, and demonstrate the willingness on the part of the departing leader to support the new leader.”

A multicultural group of people in a conference room

Legal scholar, philosopher and policy analyst Nathalie Smuha delves into Jewish philosophy to better understand how society can respond to artificial intelligence.

Stylized image of a woman behind translucent computer screens

Rabbi Alex Weissman suggests that going beyond the notion of b’tzelem Elohim and diving into the Jewish legal questions that animate the lives of LGBTQ+ Jews could open doors for maintaining a relationship with halakhah.

person holding a Pride flag

July 15-16

Heather Paul’s Kaddish offers words of comfort alongside the struggles of a heart in pain.

Two people in dark clothing from the back, one with their arm around the other

Despite a world full of pain and evil, Trisha Arlin can still pray to see its wholeness and goodness. May we be able to share her prayer.

Close-up of the petals of a yellow flower

Rabbi Armin Langer explains that Judaism has traditionally maintained a far more diverse approach to gender expressions than Christo-normative “Western” societies have.

paper with binary code

What happens when a rabbi and a spiritual seeker carpool to work, stick a camera on the dashboard, and invite the world to watch? You get “Carpooling with Rabbi, a 36-part YouTube series. Rabbi Seth Goldstein and Kirsten relay the power of talking and the challenge of driving safely while discussing weighty philosophical topics.

Cover image for TrendingJewish 4: Carpooling with Rabbi

Rabbi Toba Spitzer discusses her just-published book, God Is Here: Reimagining the Divine, with Rabbi Nancy Fuchs Kreimer and Rabbi Jacob Staub.

Slide from virtual panel on God Is Here: Reimagining the Divine

July 8-9

To help us fully appreciate the food that sustains us, read Debra Smith’s intention to precede eating.

White woman with long hair smiling and eating pasta

This guide, prepared by Madison Emmanuelle Slobin and Cantor Shira Stanford Asiyo, will walk you through various Shabbat rituals and teachings to understand this weekly holy day.

Illustration of a woman with Shabbat candles

In her d’var Torah on parashat Hukkat, Rabbah Arlene Berger offers some clues to what we can learn from Miriam’s death and how the Israelites react to it. 

A man and a woman crying and hugging

When times are hard, we often question the value of prayer. Sara Stock Mayo’s prayer helps to nudge us back to a meaningful path.

Close-up of a person's open hands

Rabbi Leiah Moser has two passions: studying Talmud and composing electronica music. In this conversation, Bryan Schwartzman and Rachael Perice (nee Burgess) uncover the links between Jewish tradition and funky modern music. 

Cover art for podcast: #TrendingJewish 1: It Sounds Like Judaism In Space

July 1-2

Rabbis Roni Handler and Darby Leigh perform the Shehekheyanu blessing in American Sign Language, with a melody by Tzvika Pik.

Rabbis Roni Handler and Darby Leigh perform the Shehekheyanu blessing in American Sign Language

Rabbi Elizabeth Bolton suggests that the story of Korah’s rebellion against Moses in this week’s parashah, complex though it may be, offers a simple teaching about our basic freedom to challenge authority and redress injustice wherever we may find it.

Natural ditch with trees and mountains in the background

This ritual, created by the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) can be used as a space for your community to mourn, sing, pray, connect, unite and separate what we knew from what we now know.

Silhouette of person's head with single lit candle

On this 246th Independence Day, as we ponder the state of our nation, why not reacquaint ourselves with the document on which the American experiment began?

Printed copy of Declaration of Independence with quill and ink

David Lubell, founder and Executive Director of Welcoming America, discusses what brought him to Ecuador, how we’ve unwittingly taught our children to fear the other and why he’s dedicated his professional life to making America more welcoming to immigrants.

#TrendingJewish 9: Welcoming the Stranger

June 24-25

With Steve Pollack’s poem, we enter Shabbat centering ourselves in the present and refreshing ourselves so we may face a new tomorrow.

A man, woman and child in a field at sunset, the child pointing into the distance

Inclusion is a core principle of Reconstructing Judaism, and the Reconstructionist movement has a 100-year history of expanding access to Jewish life and community. Rabbi Ari Lev Fornari discusses how our affiliated communities share that commitment and actively pursue ways to translate those commitments into practice.

Screenshot from inclusion webinar

Jill Ratzan helps us to separate the end of the school year from the beginning of summer and all of its activities with this havdalah ceremony.

Braided Havdalah candle and silver candleholders

In his d’var Torah, Rabbi Jonathan Kligler reminds us that “however lowly you may think of yourself, your projection that we share the same low opinion of you is unfounded, even ridiculous.”

Black woman putting on a red necklace looking in the mirror

Rabbi Deborah Waxman, president and CEO of Reconstructing Judaism, and Rabbi Nathan Kamesar, rabbi of Society Hill Synagogue in Philadelphia, discuss the ubiquity of technology and the opportunities and challenges it brings to Judaism.

Cover image for #TrendingJewish podcast episode

June 17-18

Challenging parent-child relationships become extra difficult on these “special” days. This poem addresses the stress that might arise for daughters on Father’s Day.

A woman with long brown hair looking out a large window

On May 22, Adam Cerino Jones and five of his classmates became rabbis at RRC’s 50th graduation ceremony. Moments after being called rabbi in public for the first time, Cerino Jones stood on the bimah and performed an original melody for a line from Psalm 65, which his classmate, Rabbi Sarah Brammer-Shlay, translated as “let silence be praise for God.”

Screenshot of rabbi singing and playing guitar on the bimah

From this week’s Torah reading, Rabbi David Stein teaches that ultimately, the answer to the challenge of our physical cravings may be spiritual sustenance.

a Black woman in her kitchen looking confused at a piece of cake and an apple

In her Senior Torah presentation, newly graduated Rabbi Sarah Brammer-Shlay challenges the notion that Jews who express solidarity with Palestinians “do not love our people enough. Ahavat Yisrael seems to have become a weapon to shame and marginalize, instead of a call to see the fullness and potential of the Jewish people.”

Close up on an olive tree at dawn

In honor of Juneteenth, learn to read the biblical scriptures through the eyes of a contemporary African-American woman with the Rev. Wil Gafney’s essay.

Close up on an open Bible

June 10-11

Cantor Vera Broekhuysen challenges the law and policy-makers to go beyond their “thoughts and prayers” in the face of dead children.

black and white photo of a hand holding a striped rock

Poet-musician David Glaser finds God in the creating of a new song.

Close-up of a person playing a yellow electric guitar

BimBam, a nonprofit Jewish media studio, has created more than 350 animated videos for children and adults. BimBam’s founder, Sarah Lefton, and executive director, Jordan Gill, explain how they have sought to revolutionize Jewish education through digital storytelling and meaningful screen time.

Cover Image for Thirteen Million Minutes from Evolve podcast

In her reading of parashat Naso with a “queer eye,” Rabbi Toba Spitzer finds the Torah coming to a successive and progressive understanding of what it means to be queer in relation to the larger society.

Crowd of people waiving rainbow LGBTQ pride flags

Opening the Reconstructing Judaism convention, Rabbis Nancy Fuchs Kreimer and Mordechai Liebling shared stories of their careers, in which they brought their theological values to life through their public activities.

Screenshots of three participants in the discussion on stage

June 3-4

On this Erev Shavu’ot, Karolyn Benger ponders the possibilities had the Torah had been interpreted by all of us instead of just a few?

Woman sitting roadside in the desert looking off into the sunset

In this week’s Torah reading, Rabbi Jonathan Kligler teaches that “the journey to the Promised Land is the journey towards a society in which we all remember that everyone counts.”

group of people silhouetted against a sunset

Summer is upon us, and so is camp season. Rabbi Isaac Saposnik, executive director of Havaya Summer Programs, discusses the latest trends in Jewish camping from shorter sessions to the rise of specialty camps.

Screenshot of podcast episode

In the face of relentless tragedy and grief, Rabbi Nina Mandel struggles to find the right words, all the while knowing how inadequate words often are.

quill pen resting on a notebook

As we anticipated reading the book of Ruth on Shavu’ot, Rabbi David Gedzelman explores the text with an eye towards literary elements that address how Tanakh advances structures of covenantal openness, societal protection, and compassion towards the other,” built on but transcending the requirements of the Law.

Screenshot of audio clip

May 27-28