Mind, Body & Spirit

Synagogues offer plethora of online worship, study, connection opportunities

The state of Arizona has suspended all in-person worship services, classes, and other programs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with many local synagogues halting live events in advance of the governor’s March 30 stay-at-home order. Local congregations have migrated programs to digital spaces, including Shabbat services for non-Orthodox congregations.… Read more »

Some governors are letting houses of worship reopen. Synagogues aren’t going for it.

A man taking part in a protest to reopen Pennsylvania in Harrisburg, April 20, 2020. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images)

(JTA) — The road to reopening for houses of worship has been paved in a handful of states, even as the coronavirus pandemic continues to kill more than 1,500 Americans a day. But synagogues in the Republican-led states that are relaxing some restrictions — including Georgia, Texas and South… Read more »

It’s official: Most Reform Jewish camps will cancel this summer due to COVID, affecting at least 10,000 kids

Eisner Camp in Massachusetts, a view of its lake seen here, is among 16 Reform movement overnight camps that will not open this summer. (Wikimedia Commons)

This is a developing story.  (JTA) — Nearly all Reform Jewish summer camps, and at least one Conservative camp, will remain closed for the 2020 summer due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency has learned. The landmark decision, made Thursday afternoon, will affect 15 Reform overnight… Read more »

Domestic violence hotline doubles its hours during stay-at-home orders

“For some of them, we’re their lifeline," Nechama Bakst, senior director of family violence services at the Met Council, said of the domestic violence helpline. (Ravikiran Rajagopal/EyeEm via Getty Images)

(JTA) – The change was clear as soon as New York City’s stay-at-home order went into effect: Calls to the domestic violence department at the city’s leading Jewish poverty nonprofit departed from their regular pattern. Women used to call during the day while at work or while their abusers… Read more »

No time for a breather: A nurse’s account of Israel’s first coronavirus death and life inside a COVID-19 ward

Nurse Rachel Gemara wears a hazmat suit in the coronavirus ward at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. (Courtesy of Gemara)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Nearly six weeks have passed since Arie Even, an 88-year-old Holocaust survivor, died of the coronavirus. It happened at the end of Shabbat dinner on a Friday night in March at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. Even drew headlines as Israel’s first COVID-19 fatality.… Read more »

New York City police break up another Orthodox funeral as crowds gather

New York police turned out in force for an Orthodox funeral in Borough Park, Brooklyn, Thursday, leading to tensions. (Photo/screenshot from Twitter user @hasidic_1)

(JTA) – Two days after New York City’s mayor called out “the Jewish community” when vowing to crack down on gatherings, city police intervened in another funeral in a Jewish neighborhood, resulting in a tense scene and at least one arrest. A video shared on Whatsapp showed a chaotic… Read more »

JWI Flower Project supports victims of domestic violence, who are even more at risk during coronavirus pandemic

Jewish Women International's Flower Project raises funds through its Mother's Day card program to support victims of domestic violence

More than 45,000 women and children spend each Mother’s Day in domestic violence shelters. At this unprecedented time in the U.S., many women who have escaped abuse for the safety of shelters now find themselves stuck in place, unable to move forward with rebuilding their lives. Jewish Women International’s Flower… Read more »

‘We don’t have time’: Rabbi launches Jewish climate change initiative during coronavirus crisis

A demonstrator holds a poster in front of the U.S. Capitol during a climate protest in Washington, Dec. 27, 2019. (Eva Hambach/AFP via Getty Images)

NEW YORK (JTA) — Rabbi Jennie Rosenn has spent most of her career working on Jewish social justice causes. Until recently, however, there was one issue that didn’t resonate as strong. “The environment was something that I knew was important, but I wasn’t passionate in my kishkes about… Read more »

Video chats help local senior living facility residents stay connected during pandemic

Handmaker Jewish Services for the Aging Community Outreach Coordinator Nanci Levy facilitates a recent video chat for resident Tony Eichorn. {Angela Salmon/Handmaker Jewish Services for the Aging)

Senior living facilities in Southern Arizona and all across the country have been on lockdown for several weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic, with non-essential visitors not allowed. “This means no family and friends, and it also means no exercise teachers, musical performers, Shabbat service leaders, lecturers, Torah study… Read more »

B’nai B’rith homes seek DVDs, art supplies

B’nai B’rith Strauss Manor requests donations of DVDs/Blu-Rays and art supplies to occupy residents during the coronavirus pandemic. The Gerd and Inge Strauss Manor is a federally assisted multi-family senior housing project with 81 apartments. “I’ve started a library where residents can check out movies,” says Luz E. Gallego, Strauss… Read more »

The upside to celebrating in isolation: This might be the holiest Passover ever

A mezuzah is seen in the doorway of a Jewish home during the celebration of Passover (Mikhail Tereshchenko / TASS via Getty Images)

NEW YORK (JTA) — Sitting at my Seder table with my two eldest daughters and my wife, I was struggling to find something to say that would provide meaning to this moment. Here we were: alone, beginning a Passover unlike any other we had ever experienced and, please God, will… Read more »

Passover demands we remember the Exodus. That means taking care of our most vulnerable.

A homeless man crosses the almost deserted Times Square in New York City, April 13, 2020. (Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images)

NEW YORK (JTA) — Every Passover, we strive to experience Egypt in our own lives. Locating the suffering of our Egypt wasn’t hard this year: It seems like most days my husband and I share the names of new people we personally know who have passed away from COVID-19… Read more »

Chinese-American groups return a Jewish message of solidarity by providing protective gear to agencies

A cardboard box is filled with packaged blue surgical masks imported from China during an outbreak of the coronavirus in San Ramon, Calif., April 5, 2020. (Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Jewish community’s expression of solidarity with Chinese Americans during the coronavirus pandemic has yielded an unexpected return: scads of personal protective equipment for Jewish organizations. David Bernstein, the president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Jewish public policy umbrella that initiated the solidarity… Read more »

In some European Jewish communities, getting the coronavirus carries a stigma

Haredi Orthodox Jews walk in Antwerp, Belgium, March 16, 2016. (Cnaan Liphshiz)

(JTA) — The coronavirus has spread rapidly among members of the Jewish community of Antwerp, which has a large Orthodox population. At least five have died and another 10 are hospitalized in serious condition. But the virus is hardly ever mentioned there by name. “People call it ‘the disease’… Read more »