Shabbat

Pre-Shabbat in Jerusalem is digestion time. On Friday mornings in my neighborhood of Baka, the main avenue teems with voracious brunch-devourers eager to squish a weekend's worth of consumption into one extended meal. As Shabbat preparations commence and stores rush to fulfill orders for 30 hours of commercial hiatus (shops close here!), unemployed students like me seize the moment to click out of Morfix1 and into Israel. Digestion for me is 25 percent brunch and 75 percent psychology. While I scoop labne (Israeli yogurt) onto scrambled eggs and conquer the ziggurat of cucumbers and...

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"Take a moment to settle in to being here," I say aloud. My eyes are closed, but I know there are three other people in the room this morning. I heard them walk in, each to their own place in the sanctuary, and I waited until the sounds of their arrival had ceased.

"Notice how you're sitting in your chair. In your own time, draw your attention from your toes up to the top of your head, and if you find places of tension, breathe into them and let the tension go."

"Now we'll move into a practice of following our breath as it comes and goes. When thoughts arise, as they...

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On a recent Saturday at my synagogue, we paused in an evening program to make Havdalah. Afterwards, someone emailed me asking to learn more, pointing out that havdalah was entirely new to them, and perhaps to others as well.

We begin Shabbat with a simple ritual: we light candles, bless the fruit of the vine (a symbol of joy and holiness), bless bread (which for most Ashkenazi Jews means challah, though in other parts of the world Jews bless other forms of bread, from tortillas to naan) and in many households also bless our children. Before this ritual, it's still work-week; after...

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Things really can change in 35 years. That was my reaction to the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., which I visited I was in the city participating in the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism’s L’Taken Social Justice Seminar. Rabbi Barbara Goldman-Wartell of Temple Concord in Binghamton, N.Y., had invited me to be one of the chaperones for the synagogue’s confirmation class, and we had a free afternoon during which we could visit one of the Smithsonian museums. I hadn’t been to the Hirshhorn since college and remembered loving it then; unfortunately, it turned out to be a big...

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My family loves winter. Just about every weekend between New Year’s and the end of February, you will find us practicing with the Montgomery County Maryland Special Olympics downhill ski team. My husband, Michael, is the head coach and my 23-year-old daughter, Sarah, is an athlete. We find working with Special Olympics rewarding in many ways. For Sarah, who was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder when she was 3 years old, it has opened up a new world where she has made friends and become more social.

Sarah has always enjoyed being around people, which is most unusual for...

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Inside Leadership, the blog at URJ.org, is a source for Reform Jewish leaders to get the latest news and though-provoking articles about Jewish communal life.