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Virtual Shabbat Box

Your Virtual Shabbat Box holds many ways to celebrate the day. Choose what nurtures you: listen, watch or read. Looking for more ways to connect? Join us as we Shine A Light on Justice during #GivingTuesday! On Saturday evening, Nov. 27 we'll kick off our events with Havdalah. We'll also host short virtual learning sessions on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday with Reconstructionist leaders!

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November 26-27

Mordecai Kaplan created texts for the Thanksgiving table to make the family meal like a seder. Rabbi Fredi Cooper shows how her family’s Thanksgiving celebration became infused with a little Jewish spirit. Sourced from Ritualwell 

Cantor Elizabeth Sternlieb brings a musical meditation to address the isolation of COVID-19. Remember to breathe and stay in the moment. Sourced from Ritualwell 

“Maybe the Torah is really Tamar’s story,” Ellen Dannin proposes. “But for Tamar, there would be no Jewish people.” Sourced from ReconstructingJudaism.org 

Written and performed by Beth Hamon, “Now Is All We Have” reminds us that “we are put here to be more than just ourselves.” Sourced from Ritualwell 

In this essay, Mark A. Pinsky considers the case for reparations from a Jewish point of view as an act of teshuvah. Sourced from Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish Conversations 


November 19-20

With the close of the Glasgow Summit on Climate Change, we remember and pray with Rabbi Adina Lewittes for all who suffered and died from the effects of this international scourge. Sourced from Ritualwell 

The song by Rabbi Moshe Heyn uses a 2017 commercial made for a social-media campaign in Canada that encourages people to eat together and share the blessings of neighborliness. Kein Yehi. Sourced from Ritualwell 

The blessings recited after a meal are interpreted and rendered in Spanish and English by Martin Hasan. Sourced from Ritualwell 

Rabbi Deborah Waxman, Ph.D., presents “Bringing Peoplehood to Life” at this year’s Global Day of Jewish Learning sponsored by Limmud North America. Sourced from ReconstructingJudaism.org 

Did Jacob’s memory of his encounter with the Divine at Bet El — where he learned that God is in every space — give Jacob the ability to meet his brother with equanimity?” Learn what Ellen Dannin teaches about this fascinating parashah. Sourced from ReconstructingJudaism.org 


November 12-13

Leslea Haravon Collin’s poem is a commentary on box breathing  a meditative exercise that repeats the pattern of exhaling four beats, pausing four beats, inhaling four beats and pausing four beats, and a quotation of Rabbi Levi Yizhak of Berdichev. Sourced from Ritualwell 

As the Glasgow Summit on Climate Change meets, poet Cathleen Cohen prays for its success in addressing the challenges of our endangered earth. Sourced from Ritualwell 

Rabbi Rayzel Raphael offers this is a four-part chant, which is based on the prayer Ahavah Rabbah, a great love. It is traditionally said before the Sh’ma. Sourced from ReconstructingJudaism.org 


Rabbi Lewis Eron teaches that Jacob’s angels “are powerful spiritual agents who remind him that the choices he makes on earth have deep spiritual significance to his life and to the lives of those he loves.” Sourced from ReconstructingJudaism.org 

Using a story from the Bavli (Babylonian Talmud), Rabbi Sarra Lev investigates the relationship of human dignity and the dynamics of power. Sourced from ReconstructingJudaism.org 


November 5-6

A setting of Hashkivenuthe evening prayer, by Lorenzo Valensi is performed by Lorenzo Valensi and Irwin Keller; Sourced from ReconstructingJudaism.org 


Two years after the Tree of Life shooting, we remember this tragedy with Sarah Stock Mayo’s poignant poem. Sourced from Ritualwell


L'ma'an Tziyon, written by Drora Havkin and arranged by Charles Davidson, is performed by Nashirah, the Jewish Chorale of Greater Philadelphia, under the artistic direction of Julia Zavadsky. Sourced from Ritualwell 


Are our Torah ancestors perfectly virtuous role models or flawed human beings that we can relate to? Rabbi Shai Gluskin explores the question by examining Rebecca’s and Jacob’s actions towards Isaac and Esau. Sourced from ReconstructingJudaism.org 

Helen K. Kim, co-author of JewAsian: Race, Religion, and Identity for America's Newest Jews, discusses racism in the Jewish community and the rancorous debate over communal demography. Sourced from HashivenuJewish Teachings on Resilience 



October 29-30

Read: Gathering Shalom’

This poem by Maia Conrad is a lovely kavanah/intention to set before candle-lightingkiddush, and Shabbat services. Sourced from Ritualwell


Read: ‘Bridge’

Cathleen Cohen’s poem is her personal take on Rabbi Nahman of Bratzlav’s classic statement of the “narrow bridge.” Sourced from Ritualwell


Watch & Listen: ‘The Narrow Bridge’

This musical interpretation of Rabbi Nahman’s words was composed by Emily Bengel and performed by Kol Ahava of Congregation Kehilat Shalom. Sourced from ReconstructingJudaism.org

The Narrow Bridge by Emily Bengels from Emily Bengels on Vimeo.


Read: ‘Filling in the Missing Pieces of Sarah’s Life’

Rabbi Elizabeth Bolton teaches that it is not so odd that this parashah, beginning with Sarah’s death, should be named for her life; she lives through the nation she mothered. Sourced from ReconstructingJudaism.org


Listen: Jews and Money: A Frank Conversation

Lila Corwin Berman, who writes about wealth and charitable giving, Jewish communities, and democracy, explores the origins of endowments and donor-advised funds, examining how they have shaped communal decision-making. Sourced from Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish Conversations



October 22-23

Read: ‘For I Am Still Sitting’

What was the real “sin” that brought destruction to Sodom and Gomorrah? Jaden Diamond suggests an answer in this poem that reflects on the story in this week’s parashahSourced from Ritualwell 


Listen: Unending Love

Written and performed by Lorenzo Valensi, this is a joyful, upbeat setting of Rabbi Rami Shapiro’s "Unending Love," as found in the Kol Haneshamah siddurSourced from ReconstructingJudaism.org


Read: Blessing One’s Parents 

It is traditional, on Friday evening, for parents to bless their children. As we grow up, we realize that we are able to return the blessing to them as well. CLAL suggests this ritual. Sourced from Ritualwell


Read: Welcoming Strangers, Welcoming Angels

Rabbi Hannah Spiro teaches us from parashat Vayera that in times of chaos, when we face cruelty, we need to bring Avraham’s and the angel Michael’s hesed/loving-kindness with us, even in Sodom. Sourced from ReconstructingJudaism.org


Listen: Liberation From Opioids: One Rabbi’s Journey

Rabbi Michael Perice recently revealed to his congregation that for four years, he’d been addicted to opioids. Now, celebrating ten years of liberation, he has decided to share his story with his community and the wider world. Sourced from Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish Conversations 



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


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


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



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


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


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



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


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


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


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


These resources were drawn from:


Previous Virtual Shabbat Boxes by month: