Get Your Water Bucket Ready! Reimagining Shavuot in 2020

Any ordinary year, a Shavuot celebration—the holiday that began as an agricultural festival and later evolved to honor the giving of the Torah to Moses at Mt. Sinai—might have looked like this: reading the Book of Ruth, staying up all night studying the Torah, and eating cheesecake and other dairy foods. But 2020 is far from ordinary. In this year of a worldwide pandemic and stay at home orders that are just now s...

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High School Grads Opt for a Gap Year in Israel

With so much uncertainty about what college life will look like this fall, an increasing number of high school graduates are opting for a gap year. A gap year provides students with the opportunity to defer college for one year to continue to learn and grow. For Jewish teens, living and studying in Israel can fulfill a dream of spending time in the Jewish homeland and deepening one’s connection with their faith. Yonah...

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Jewish Teen Creates Top Coronavirus Site in Desire to Change the World

Jewish teen creates COVID-19 website. Courtesy: Avi Schiffmann People searching for the most up-to-date statistics on the Coronavirus outbreak need to look no further than ncov2019.live—a website created by Avi Schiffmann, a 17-year-old Jewish teenager living near Seattle, Washington. It’s currently a top-visited site with more than 100 million visitors—60 percent of whom live outside the U.S. Avi came up with the ...

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Inspiring Curiosity for Israeli Culture Through Dance

Art and in particular, dance, has the power to educate and effect change. That’s the mission behind the Keshet Chaim (Colors of Life) Dance Ensemble, which draws from timeless themes of Jewish culture to preserve tradition and bring stories alive on stage worldwide. Founded in 1983 by Artistic Director Eytan Avisar, Keshet Chaim, under the creative direction of Choreographer Kobi Rozenfeld, develops original ...

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Wassup, Really? Helping Young Adults Struggling With Mental Health

Elyssa is a certified instructor for Youth Mental Health First Aid, a program where adults help young adults struggling with mental health or substance abuse. According to the World Health Organization, mental illness afflicts 450 million people worldwide and half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14. Left untreated, mental health issues in kids can lead to school truancy, suicide, incarceration, r...

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The World Is Valerie Weisler’s “Kosher Oyster”—And There’s Power in That

Valerie Weisler was having a moment of incredible validation: Last year, she had received a grant from a foundation for Jewish camps to be a teaching artist. She spent her summer traveling to camps, community centers, and synagogues in 13 states and in five countries, where she delighted in sharing her story of founding The Validation Project and working with young people on solving issues and problems they see in th...

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To Write With Beauty: Linda Coppleson and the Growing World of Female Scribes

Photos by Scott Saltzman Calligraphy literally means “beautiful writing.” It’s no wonder Linda Coppleson—a soferet STaM who is one of the growing number of today’s female scribes—was attracted to this meticulous art form that blends beauty, proportion, and posture. A Soferet STaM is a Jewish scribe who, governed by thousands of Halachot, or Jewish laws, copies sifrei Torah (Torah scrolls), tefillin (phylact...

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Extending The Branch: Israel’s Jews and Arabs Forge Meaningful Relationships

Yuval Ben-Ami, the son of an Israeli army spokesman, and Husam Jubran, who spent a year in a wheelchair as a teen after being shot by Israeli soldiers, are friends. The two share Israeli and Palestinian perspectives with tourists traveling Israel by tour bus. Theirs is just one of the compelling and often complicated stories that have been told by The Branch, a podcast presented by Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organi...

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One Synagogue’s Work to Break the Chains of Bondage

In a few short weeks, we will gather around seder tables with family and friends to retell our story of freedom from slavery—a story that has shaped our Jewish community, consciousness, and values for generations. However, there are still millions of people who have no such story of deliverance because slavery is unfortunately still part of their everyday reality. The International Labor Organization reports that 21 m...

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Purim and Passover’s Heroines Still Inspire

One of the greatest Jewish women in modern history, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, co-wrote a reflection with Rabbi Lauren Holzblatt of Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, D.C. a few years back. It was about the heroic and visionary women of Passover and how their stories still inspire. “Retelling the heroic stories of Yocheved, Shifra, Puah, Miriam, and Batya reminds our daughters that with vision a...

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