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Home » Virtual Shabbat Box » Virtual Shabbat Box Archives: April 2021

Virtual Shabbat Box Archives: April 2021

Phone screen with a green box and the words "Virtual Shabbat Box: Resources for you in these uncertain times"

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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April 30-May 1, 2021


Read: Livestreaming Kabbalat Shabbat

This poem came to Janice Steinberg while “attending” a livestreamed Kabbalat Shabbat service and thinking about both the loneliness and the freedom of our current reality of virtual worship. Sourced from Ritualwell

Man and woman sitting on couch smiling and gesturing at laptop screen


Listen: Esa Einai

Esa einai el heharim meiayin yavo ezri (“I lift my eyes to the mountains, where will my help come from?”) is taken from Psalm 121. This piece, composed by Solomon Hoffman, is performed by 60 musicians and singers. Sourced from YouTube

Esa Einai - from Psalm 121 ft. Britton Smith with 60 musicians and singers. Music by Solomon Hoffman


Read: Omer Day 33: Lag B’Omer, Humility of Humility

On this 33rd day of the Omer, Rabbi Elyse Wechterman reflects on the kabbalistic meaning of the day — hod she-be-hod — and its characteristic value of humility. Sourced from Ritualwell

section of a kabbalistic diagram of the sefirot - tiferet (beauty), Netsach (endurance), hod (majesty), yesod (foundation)


Watch: Tradition is Not Just What We Inherit, It Is Also What We Create

Rabbi Yael Ridberg shares her favorite story from the hasidic rebbe, Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev, and poses some provocative questions that can help guide us through the coming months. Sourced from Recon Connect Beit Midrash

Beit Midrash: Tradition Is Not Just What We Inherit, It Is Also What We Create


Listen: Paradox, Complexity and Liberation: A Conversation with Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, one of fewer than 100 Black American women to earn a doctorate in physics, talks about trailblazing with two fellow pioneers, Rabbi Sandra Lawson and Rabbi Deborah Waxman, Ph.D. Sourced from Hashivenu: Jewish Teachings on Resilience

Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein


April 23-24, 2021


Read: The Nature of Prayer

Suzanne Sabransky’s poem looks at the depths and layers of what we do when we pray. Sourced from Ritualwell

woman in white dress standing outdoors, open hand on chest palm-inward



Listen: ‘Arise, My Love’

This song, written by Alexander Massey, is taken from the words of the Song of Songs which celebrates love and is traditionally chanted every Friday night. Sourced from Ritualwell

woman standing facing a window, turning to kiss another woman standing behind her



Read: Open the Gates of Justice

Stacey Zisook Robinson’s alternate reading of Psalm 118 reminds us that sometimes our prayers can crack open gates that have been long rusted and chained. Sourced from Ritualwell  Sourced from Ritualwell

gate chained shut with rusted padlock


Love the Stranger as Yourself

The mitzvah to love the stranger as ourselves comes from this week’s Torah portion, Akharei Mot/Kedoshim. Rabbi Jonathan Kligler explains why Rabbi Akiva believed that this was the greatest of all the commandments. Sourced from ReconstructingJudaism.org

large public institutional building with large sign reading "refugees welcome" draped across its front


Watch: Does a Golem Count in a Minyan?

The idea of a human-made artificial person is deeply rooted in Jewish tradition, and rabbis of old took it seriously in terms of Jewish law. Rabbi Jeff Sultar explores their questions that offer us much insight into some pressing issues of our day, such as artificial intelligence, the right to life and what distinguishes human beings from the rest of creation. Sourced from Recon Connect Beit Midrash

Beit Midrash: Does a Golem Count in a Minyan



April 16-17, 2021


Read: Counting the ‘Omer’ Against Racism

Congregation Beth Hatikvah’s (Summit, N.J.) Anti-Racism Project has created a way for each of us, at home, to mark these days with reflections on race and freedom, creating a unique “Counting the Omer Against Racism” experience. Sourced from Ritualwell

Sign reading "Racism is a Pandemic"


Watch: Esa Eynay in ASL: ‘I Will Lift Up My Eyes’

Rabbi Darby Jared Leigh and Rabbi Roni Handler demonstrate the song “Esa Eynay” (lyrics from Psalm 121:1–2) in ASL and Hebrew singing. Sourced from Ritualwell

Rabbi Roni Handler and Rabbi Darby Leigh singing and signing in ASL


Listen: Paradox, Complexity and Liberation: A Conversation with Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

On this episode of the Hashivenu podcast, we’re joined by Professor Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, one of fewer than 100 Black American women to earn a doctorate in physics — and a Reconstructionist! We discuss the insights she draws from her background as a Black and Ashkenazi Jew, and the richness, complexity, and fruitful challenges that diverse voices bring to the Jewish community. Sourced from Hashivenu

Hashivenu: Jewish Teachings on Resilience


Read: Illness and Connection

Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben teaches that our profound need for human connection, and for being part of something grand and transcendent in life, is so deep that it became one of the primary roles of our ancient priests — to bring us lovingly back into a state of purity, of spiritual healing and of community. Sourced from ReconstructingJudaism.org

person in green shirt facing away from us, with three other people standing near them with their hands on the person's shoulders

Watch: Breath of the Shema

Practice this breathing meditation using the words of the Shema with Rabbi Shelly Barnathan. Sourced from Reset, providing Jewish activists with accessible spiritual practice and teachings. Learn more here

Breath of the Shema


When Peace Comes: A Meditation

Alden Solovy offers a meditation for Yom Ha-‘azma’ut, Israeli Independence Day. We think this week about being “On the road to wholeness, on the road to wisdom, on the road to our days of rejoicing.” Sourced from Ritualwell

Close up of clasped hands


Watch: Jewish Eco-theology

Rabbi Nathan Martin describes the basic elements of a Jewish eco-theology, examines a few core texts and gives viewers some ideas about how to write their own eco-theology. Sourced from Recon Connect Beit Midrash

Jewish Eco-Theology


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April 9-10, 2021


Read: A Prayer for ‘Yom Hashoah’

With Rabbi David Katz’s prayer, we mark Holocaust Remembrance Day (April 8) and remember all who perished in the Shoah. Sourced from Ritualwell

Barracks viewed through iron fence


Watch: Unlock the Gates of Prosperity: Key-Shaped Challah

Adva Chattler shares how and why tradition invites us to make a key-shaped challah for the first Shabbat after Passover. Sourced from Ritualwell

Recon Beit Midrash - Key-shaped Challah


Watch: Shiviti Meditation for ‘Rosh Hodesh’

Rosh Hodesh Iyar falls on April 12-13. Celebrate the new month with Batya Diamond’s meditation. Sourced from Ritualwell

Moon in cloudy night sky


Read: Counting the Omer: A Mindfulness Practice

Each of the seven weeks and each of the 49 days has its own spiritual quality. Rabbi Yael Levy offers intentions and suggestion for practices to help focus your attention each week. Sourced from Ritualwell

Stack of seven smooth river rocks


Watch: Reflections on Freedom: Mordecai Kaplan and Horace Kallen

What is the relationship between freedom, democracy and religion? This question preoccupied these two major Jewish thinkers in the mid-20th century. Rabbi Matthew Kaufman explores the answers they provide, which are newly thought-provoking in our currently overheated political climate. Sourced from Recon Connect Beit Midrash

Beit Midrash Reflections on Freedom


Listen: Confronting Antisemitism and Racism

Confronting demonstrators at the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., and hearing the chants of “the Jews will not replace us,” Rabbi Mordechai Liebling came face-to-face with white supremacy and antisemitism. As a child of Holocaust survivors and a veteran activist, Liebling describes his experiences in Charlottesville: what brought him there and what he learned about hate in America. Sourced from Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish Conversations

anti-bigotry protest - large outdoor crowd holding signs





April 2-3, 2021

As Passover concludes this weekend, we invite you to explore our Virtual Passover Box. In addition, we bring you these resources for this Shabbat Pesakh.

Read: For the U.S. Asian Community

Alden Solovy’s poem cries out for justice, this time for people of Asian heritage, among those who are oppressed and victims of hatred. Sourced from Ritualwell

Outdoor street protest against hate crimes against Asian Americans


Listen: ‘The Omer Song’

A fun, spirited song to get you in the mood to count the Omer by Juliet I. Spitzer. Sourced from Ritualwell

Wheat field


Watch: Ensuring the Liberation of All People

Rabbi Deborah Waxman, president of Reconstructing Judaism, gives her message for Passover 5781/2021. Sourced from ReconstructingJudaism.org

Ensuring the Liberation of All People


Read: Allegorical Interpretation of the ‘Song of Songs’

Rabbi Leah Richman teaches about why we read the “Song of Songs” during Passover, and the message of love and hope it continues to offer us. Sourced from ReconstructingJudaism.org

twirling flower chain in the shape of hearts spiraling into the distance


Watch: Go Outside and Pray: Jewish Practices for Connecting with Nature

As spring begins, Rabbi Josh Snyder shares a few stories and practices that give us Jewish language for the overpowering feelings of gratitude, amazement, curiosity and possibility felt by generations as we connect with nature. Sourced from Recon Connect Beit Midrash

Recon Connect Beit Midrash, “Go Outside and Pray: Jewish Practices for Connecting with Nature” with Rabbi Joshua Snyder


These resources were drawn from:


Previous Virtual Shabbat Boxes by month: 


The Reconstructionist Network

Serving as central organization of the Reconstructionist movement

Training the next generation of groundbreaking rabbis

Modeling respectful conversations on pressing Jewish issues

Curating original, Jewish rituals, and convening Jewish creatives

The Reconstructionist Network