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Virtual Shabbat Box Archives: December 2021

December 24-25

Read: ‘We Must Pray and We Must Do: A Prayer While Lighting Candles’ 

As we light the Shabbat candles, this prayer by Trish Arlin reminds us that “we are holy with the obligation to speak goodness and do good.” Sourced from Ritualwell 

Close up on several lit candles shining in the dark


Read: ‘The Midwives of Egypt: An Interfaith Text Study’ 

Rabbi Maurice Harris takes a closer look at the Egyptian midwives of parashat Sh’mot, who defied Pharoah’s orders and saved the Israelite sons from drowning. Sourced from ReconstructingJudaism.org 

A pregnant Black woman smiles at another woman who is touching her belly.


Watch/Listen: ‘Shemot: Names of Lament’ 

Tiferet Welch recites her poem, which reflects parashat Sh’mot and the times we are living through. Sourced from Ritualwell


Read: ‘Prayer for the Return of Sanity’ 

As the secular New Year approaches and we flounder in a “time of mass insanity, a constellation of hardships and trials,” let us pray with Suzanne Sabransky, to “stop the pain, frustration, and smoldering anger.” Sourced from Ritualwell 

Black man looking at the sky and praying


Listen: ‘Adoption Isn’t a Bad Thing; It’s a Tricky Thing’ 

Minna Scherlinder Morse, a writer, editor, and adoptive parent, examines adoption from a Jewish ethical lens, suggesting that the reality and history are far more nuanced than usually thought. Sourced from Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish Conversations


December 17-18

Read: ‘Vayekhi: Words’ 

This poem by Cathleen Cohen is inspired by and reflects on this week’s Torah portion. Sourced from Ritualwell 

Scrabble pieces spelling out the word WORDS


Listen: ‘The Watchman’s Chair: A Song for Shmirah 

The ritual of sh’mirah refers to the practice of watching over the body of a deceased person between the time of death and burial. Beth Hamon wrote this song while serving as a shomer, one of the most profound and humbling things she has ever done. Sourced from Ritualwell


Read: ‘Eco-Kashrut: A Kashrut for Our Times’ 

“The eco-kashrut movement is an attempt to marry the values embodied in Torah with an awareness of the challenging realities of our time,” writes Lisa Braun Glazer, Ph.D. Sourced from Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish Conversations

Greens for a salad being washed


Listen: ‘A Blessing for Community Work’ 

This song — written, composed, and performed by Rabbi Margot Stein — is a setting for the blessing created by Rabbi Jeremy Schwartz. Rabbi Shawn Zevit plays the guitar. Sourced from Ritualwell 


Read: ‘Have You No Decency? Midrash and the Centrality of Love’ 

Rabbi Mackenzie Reynolds teaches from this week’s parashah that “our actions in this world can and do have many motivations,” but “we build and strengthen our communities and neighbors with love.” Sourced from ReconstructingJudaism.org 

Volunteers at a food bank packing boxes of bottled water and canned goods


December 10-11

Read: ‘A Psalm of Found Joy: For the First Joy in Months’ 

Devon Spier’s poem reflects on the verse, higdil Adonay la’asot imanu, hayinu s’meyhim, Adonay will do great things for us, and we shall rejoice.” (Psalm 126Sourced from Ritualwell 

Black woman wearing gold earrings smiling


Watch/Listen: Chant for Healing: Psalms 70 and 130 

The recitation of Psalms has been a traditional Jewish response to illness and other personal and communal struggles for ages. Rabbi Vivie Mayer chants Psalms 70 and 130 and raises up from our deepest places our need to be heard. Sourced from Ritualwell 

Psalms 70 and 130 chanted in Hebrew and read in English by Rabbi Vivie Mayer of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College from Reconstructing Judaism on Vimeo.


Read: ‘If I Had Only Known’ 

Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben teaches from this week’s parashah: “Each of us has the chance over and over in our lives to transcend difficult experiences of the past, to find a renewed sense of purpose and meaning in our relationships, struggles, triumphs, and even tragedies.” Sourced from ReconstructingJudaism.org 

Two men in the park, man in blue shirt with his arm around man in plaid shirt


Listen: ‘What If the Shema Were Written by Dr. Seuss?’ 

What happened when Dr. Seuss inspired Rabbi Leiah Moser to rethink the Shema? Sourced from Ritualwell 



Read: ‘The Vaccination Sweepstakes’ 

“Our tradition has long recognized a duty to heal, which applies first to those most immediately around the individual. With that largely accomplished in the United States and Israel,” says Rabbi David Teutsch, “I would argue that the responsibility to heal extends urgently to the rest of the world.” Sourced from Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish Conversations 

Vials of COVID-19 vaccine


December 3-4

Read: ‘If We Could Speak Light’ 

Cathleen Cohen’s poem speaks for both the light of Shabbat and those of the eight days of Hanukkah. Sourced from Ritualwell 

Person in the woods at sunset


Watch/Listen: Hanerot Hallalu Kodesh Hem’ 

“These lights of ours are holy for all eight days of Hanukkah” was written and performed by Shira Weidenbaum and Andrea Simms-Karp. Sourced from Ritualwell 


Read: ‘Joseph, the Favorite Son’ 

According to Rabbi Elizabeth Bolton, Joseph, the dreamer, “is doing some of his own wrestling, coming to grips with the cards he has been dealt, the fate predicted in the realm of dreams.” Sourced from ReconstructingJudaism.org 

A father and son holding hands at the beach at sunset


Watch/Listen: ‘Shining Our Inner Light on Hanukkah’ 

This meditation, adapted for Hanukkah by Rabbi Hannah Nathans, is inspired by the meditation of the Piasetzner rebbe, Rabbi Kalonymos Kalman Shapira, and is about the hinukh of our souls — learning to realize its potential. Sourced from Ritualwell 

Meditation for Hanukkah with Rabbi Hannah Nathans from Reconstructing Judaism on Vimeo.


Read: ‘Pandemic Hanukkah’ 

What kind of miracle can we hope for this Hanukkah? Sara Stock Mayo offers this suggestion. Sourced from Ritualwell 

A hand holding a colorful candle above a colorful menorah


These resources were drawn from:


Previous Virtual Shabbat Boxes by month: 


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