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After Twitter suspends account, candidate calls it ‘deceptive and hateful’ – CT Insider

Posted By on August 10, 2020

GREENWICH An apparantly fake Twitter account that claimed it was associated with a local Republican candidate for the state Senate has been suspended.

Twitter suspended the account for @FazioPAC on Tuesday.

It had claimed to be for a political action committee backing Ryan Fazio, a Greenwich Republican running for the 36th Senate District. But a search of state records found no such organization associated with the Fazio campaign, and Fazio denied any involvement with a PAC or the Twitter account.

On Thursday, Fazio called it a deceitful and hateful fake account and said he was glad to put the issue behind him and prepare for the campaign ahead.

My focus has always been on improving the lives of people in the community, he said. He is challenging incumbent Democrat Alex Kasser for the Senate seat, which represents Greenwich and parts of Stamford and New Canaan.

Kasser put a spotlight on the Twitter account over the weekend in an email to followers and posts on her Twitter and Instagram accounts. In particular, Kasser pointed to a Tweet that said, Its time to save Connecticut from the infestation. A native son of Greenwich will lead us into the light.

Let there be no question about what this tweet means, Kasser wrote. The word infestation is the rhetoric used in Nazi Germany and the Rwandan Genocide. It is the dog whistle that President Trump uses to pit us against one another.

Fazio said he and his supporters had been trying for weeks to get Twitter to suspend the account, but they did not receive a response.

But after attention was focused on the account this week, it was taken down. The Fazio campaign credited the Connecticut Anti-Defamation League for that. A Fazio supporter was among those who reached out to the ADL.

The organization has set up the ADL Center for Technology and Society in Silicon Valley, which works to root out hate on the Internet, ADL Connecticut Regional Director Steve Ginsburg said Thursday.

The center determines what is real and what is fake in online content, looking for material that violates the terms of service for social media companies. It works closely with major companies including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and others to get hate off their sites, Ginsburg said.

Anybody can flag hate on Twitter and try to get it taken down, Ginsburg said. We probably have more of an expertise on how to get those comments and suggestions reacted to very quickly because we know exactly where the violations are.

Ginsburg was upset by the same tweet that Kasser pointed out.

Infestation is not just a dog whistle anymore, he said. We have a big concern that language like that is becoming mainstream from politicians and others. Its one of those terms that can be very broadly applied to spread negative stereotypes about groups and demonize people.

The Connecticut ADL is an independent organization and has no association with any political campaigns, Ginsburg said. He said he has not had any direct contact with Fazio, his campaign or with the Kasser campaign, although he said he sent an email to her state Senate address but has not heard back.

Twitters rules state that users of the social media platform may not impersonate individuals, groups, or organizations in a manner that is intended to or does mislead, confuse, or deceive others.

Fazio said he was truly thankful for the ADLs help.

The only communication Fazio said he received from Twitter was an email on Tuesday afternoon, saying the account had been reviewed and that it violated its rules.

Fazio said he became aware of the fake account shortly after it was created on July 16 and had been trying to have it taken down ever since.

I am disappointed that it took so long for Twitter to honor my repeated requests and those of my supporters to do so, he said in a campaign statement. I am more disappointed that my opponent used her position of power to amplify the voice of this malicious and obviously bogus account, with only four followers, in order to divide and deceive our community.

Fazio called on Kasser to donate to the ADL any funds her campaign received from her email and posts about the account.

Kasser did include a fundraising pitch in her social media posts.

This is what Im up against in this election, she wrote. There is no distinction between Trump at the top of the ticket and Republican candidates down the ballot.

Kasser did not return messages left Wednesday or Thursday.

On Monday, Kasser said that she never attributed the account or its Tweets to Fazio or his campaign. She said the point of her message was not about the origins of one Tweet but that the language of racism and bigotry is routinely used by Trump and the Republican Party, in Washington, Connecticut and Greenwich.

Republicans on the ballot with Trump have had four years to denounce his hateful actions and overt racism, Kasser said. Its a little late for them to start claiming moral outrage now.

Ginsburg said he was surprised when he saw Fazio was asking for the money to be donated to the ADL. It was not a request the nonprofit organization had made, he said.

kborsuk@greenwichtime.com

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After Twitter suspends account, candidate calls it 'deceptive and hateful' - CT Insider

Proud Boys show at Sandy ‘Back the Blue’ rally – Pamplin Media Group

Posted By on August 10, 2020

Proud Boys Alan Swinney, Andrew Duncomb make appearance at the pro-police rally.

Dozens of people lined Highway 26 in Sandy Tuesday evening, Aug. 4, waving flags while shouting support for local police and the re-election of President Donald Trump.

The event was originally promoted as a show of support for local enforcement, meant to honor Sandy Police and other local officers on what would have been National Night Out.

While the majority of the 50 to 60 people who attended brought signs saying they "back the blue" or displayed American and thin blue line flags, there also was a large presence in support for President Trump, either waving Trump flags, wearing Trump 2020 hats and/or chanting their support.

Several motorists traveling on Highway 26 honked in support.

Sandy Backs the Blue co-organizer Dixie Bailey said two minor incidents occurred during the event. One person in a passing car mooned the demonstrators and another man showed up in his underwear to "try and make us look bad," Bailey said.

Some passersby made crude hand gestures or shouted "F*** Trump!" or "Black Lives Matter," while those in attendance responded with "Four more years," "Trump, Trump, Trump," "He's your president, snowflake" or "All Lives Matter."

"I felt like the (flag) wave went really well," Bailey said. "We all really enjoyed supporting our local (law enforcement officers). I was extremely grateful to see so much community support."

Two men came from out of state Texas and California and showed support of the pro-police group Sandy Backs the Blue.

One was Andrew "Black Rebel" Duncomb, who was reportedly filming the unrest in downtown Portland on July 25 at the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse and Multnomah County Justice Center when he was allegedly stabbed by a protestor who Duncomb said identifies as being part of the "antifa" movement, a loose coalition of left-leaning protesters who oppose fascism.

Duncomb said activists had alerted others to his presence and identity before he confronted one of the men who'd been following his group. He said he was stabbed in the back during that incident.

After that experience in Portland, Duncomb said he feels more welcome in Sandy. He followed his "fellow patriot" Alan Swinney to a previous Sandy flag wave.

"I think in small communities like this, (these events) encourage people to fight back and take this country back," Duncomb said. "We are under attack. I can't even walk downtown Portland without being attacked."

Swinney expressed similar sentiment, saying "America is under attack and we need to try to do something to stand up for it."

Both men have been linked to the Proud Boys, a far-right organization described as a hate group by members of the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League.

According to the ADL's website:

"The Proud Boys represent an unconventional strain of American right-wing extremism. While the group can be described as violent, nationalistic, Islamophobic, transphobic and misogynistic, its members represent a range of ethnic backgrounds, and its leaders vehemently protest any allegations of racism.

"Their founder, Gavin McInnes, went so far as to file a defamation lawsuit against the Southern Poverty Law Center when the SPLC designated the Proud Boys a hate group. In McInnes' own words, the Proud Boys are a 'pro-western fraternity,' essentially a drinking club dedicated to male bonding, socializing and the celebration all things related to western culture. In reality, the Proud Boys bear many of the hallmarks of a gang, and its members have taken part in multiple acts of brutal violence and intimidation."

Aside from the Proud Boys, a few other out-of-towners came to support Sandy Backs the Blue.

One woman, who asked to remain anonymous, came from Gresham for the event. She said she is moving to Sandy soon and is "excited to get into a community that doesn't support hate and violence."

"Gresham claims it's not a city that values hate," she said. "I'm totally insulted they're flying the terrorist Black Lives Matter flag. I came out here to back the blue. I have all the respect in the world for the police."

Another woman, Cindy, who refrained from giving her full name, came from Rhododendron to "show support for my country, support for my president and support for the police."

While dozens came out to the event, Juli Hager, co-organizer of the Sandy Backs the Blue, said she had hoped to see members of the local anti-racism group, the Sandy STAND UP Movement, there.

Bailey said in an earlier interview that the event was open to all, was to be "non-political" and that leaders of the STAND UP Movement had been invited.

STAND UP leaders told The Post they'd informed their members of the event and made attending the flag wave an individual member decision.

"I wish the other group would come out," Hager said as the flag wave was kicking off. "To have people at odds doesn't sit well with me."

"I chose not to go because I did not want to stand alongside Proud Boys and those supporting them in this community," Sandy STAND UP co-organizer Lindsay Polk said. "It goes against what I (we) are trying to change in Sandy."

Sandy STAND UP co-organizer Tracy George echoed Polk's comments, saying "I did not go personally because with the presence of (Proud Boys). It did not feel like a safe situation to put myself or my children in."

Other members of the STAND UP group have expressed similar concerns about the Proud Boys' presence in Sandy.

For more information about the group, visit their Facebook page.

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Proud Boys show at Sandy 'Back the Blue' rally - Pamplin Media Group

Facebook Has More to Learn From the Ad Boycott – WIRED

Posted By on August 10, 2020

Sheryl Sandberg has always presented herself as caring deeply about civil rights. You would think that she would speak against that sort of false equivalence.

I've had a lot of conversations with her. There's a question about who is the final decisionmaker. Also, Facebook VP of public policy Joel Kaplan works for Sheryl, essentially. Joel Kaplan should not be a person who gets to ensure that voter suppression is not happening. We have a public campaign to fire Joel Kaplan. [Kaplan, who worked in the George W. Bush administration, is viewed as a voice for conservatives within Facebook.]

Have you talked to Kaplan?

We had a meeting June 1, where Joel was on the Zoom, but I never addressed him. In the more recent meeting with Mark and Sheryl, Joel wasn't on the call.

That was the July 7 meeting that addressed the advertiser boycott. What happened there?

I got into a back and forth with Mark, about the voter suppression postthe looters and shooters posttrying to talk about the incentive structures. [On May 29, the Donald Trump account reposted on Facebook a tweet saying, When the looting starts, the shooting starts, and Zuckerberg allowed it to remain.] I didn't mention Joel's name, but he knew that that's what I was saying. And then Mark said, You don't think Republicans should work at Facebook? Its almost like each time I talk to them, we end up right back in this same conversation, where they have civil rights as left and right, not right and wrong. And I respond. I don't think this should be partisan at all. I don't think there should be a Democrat either. I run campaigns against Democrats too. Unfortunately, that is the prism that they see it through, because they've weaponized conservative bias.

Color of Change is part of the advertiser boycott group called Stop Hate for Profit. Do you feel that Facebook consciously profits from hate?

At this point, yes. They consciously know they are profiting from the algorithms and incentive structures on their platform that allow for a certain type of content to be prioritized and to make money.

Do you feel that the boycott has made a difference?

Yes. I've been going back and forth with Facebook for five years, and I've never experienced this level of intensity from them on updates and changes that they're making. [In response to the civil rights audit, Facebook vowed to establish a senior VP for civil rights, ban divisive ads, and be more aggressive in taking down posts on voter suppression.] We know from people on the inside who call us, who want things to change, that this boycott has been the most effective at raising the energy for change. They are clearly responding. But this can't be the ongoing job of civil rights groups to sit around every day and police this platform. And we can't trust them to police themselves. Because time and time again, even when they said that they're going to do something, they fail to actually do it because of their incentivestheir business model focused on profit and growth runs up against safety, integrity, and security. So we need rules of the road.

If you had your way what would those rules be?

I would institute a civil rights infrastructure that had ongoing decisionmaking power. Silicon Valley is one of the only industries where there is no sort of certification for how you're held accountable. If you want to be a nurse or a doctor you need to be certified. If you're a software engineer, you could just build anything, and you don't have to worry about whether it hurts. There also needs to be tools on the front end to evaluate closed groups, and tools on the back end to be able to quickly pull down closed groups that are inciting violence. They need to do actual training at scale, and to have evaluators [appropriate to] the size of this company to actually monitor safety and integrity on the platform.

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Facebook Has More to Learn From the Ad Boycott - WIRED

LA City Hall Will Light Up With Lebanese Flag to Show Support Over Beirut Blast – Jewish Journal

Posted By on August 10, 2020

Los Angeles City Hall will be lit up with the Lebanese flag in a sign of solidarity with the country over the explosions in Beirut on Aug. 4.

ABC7 anchor Marc Brown tweeted that City Hall will be lit up starting on the evening of Aug. 6.

Beirut is a sister city of Los Angeles.

American Jewish Committee Los Angeles Director Richard S. Hirschhaut said in a statement to the Journal, Following Tel Avivs lead, this is an important gesture and demonstration of our shared humanity and compassion. If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is that life truly is fragile and we really are all in this together.

Anti-Defamation League Los Angeles Interim Regional Director Ariella Lowenstein also said in a statement to the Journal, This symbolic act represents the most basic human support for people who have endured a terrible tragedy.

Tel Aviv lit up its City Hall with the colors of the Lebanese flag on the evening of Aug. 5. The city posted on its Twitter account, The city hall building is lit tonight with the Lebanese flag. Our hearts and thoughts are with the Lebanese people and all those affected by the terrible disaster in #Beirut.

The explosions at a Beirut port killed more than 100 people and thousands were injured. The explosions are believed to have been the result of a fire at a warehouse containing 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, a chemical compound commonly used in fertilizer.

UPDATE:Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted out a photo on Aug. 6 of city hall lit up in Lebanese flag colors.

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LA City Hall Will Light Up With Lebanese Flag to Show Support Over Beirut Blast - Jewish Journal

USC President Calls Student VP Resignation Letter ‘Heartbreaking,’ Says Anti-Semitism ‘Has No Place at the University’ – Jewish Journal

Posted By on August 10, 2020

USC President Carol Folt sent out a letter to the community on Aug. 6 denouncing anti-Semitism and calling Undergraduate Student Government (USG) Vice President Rose Ritchs resignation letter heartbreaking.

Folt wrote, In her heartbreaking resignation letter, Rose described the intense pressure and toxic conditions that led to her decision specifically the anti-Semitic attacks on her character and the online harassment she endured because of her Jewish and Zionist identities. She also challenged all of us to do better in aligning our actions with our stated desire to have a campus culture that is truly inclusive and respectful of racial and religious diversity, and of different cultural backgrounds and beliefs.

As president of USC, I believe it is critically important to state explicitly and unequivocally that anti-Semitism in all of its forms is a profound betrayal of our principles and has no place at the university. We must condemn any bias or prejudice that is based on a persons race, religion, sexual orientation, or other personal characteristic. What happened to Rose Ritch is unacceptable, and we must all take up her challenge to do better.

Folt acknowledged that the university still wrestles with a history of anti-Semitism and noted that anti-Semitism has been on the rise on college campuses throughout the country. She stated that USC will be launching its Stronger Than Hate program through the USC Shoah Foundation.

It represents the work of many of our university leaders including students, staff, and faculty who have come together to support and amplify our collective struggle against hate, Folt wrote. Through meaningful exhibitions, programs, and workshops, this initiative is designed to help foster a campus culture of connection and compassion that empowers us to listen, learn, heal, and dream together. We hope that as we listen to each other, we can move beyond stereotyped beliefs that lead to implicit and explicit biases, and instead foster a respectful and supportive campus culture.

She concluded the letter with a call to foster an inclusive culture on campus through fighting prejudice and hatred whenever and wherever we encounter it and be a force for good.

StandWithUs CEO and co-founder Roz Rothstein said in a statement to the Journal, The language of this statement is strong in that it acknowledges the anti-Semitism and harassment Rose faced based on her Jewish and Zionist identities, and promises some concrete action. However this message should have been shared with the campus community long before a Jewish student leader felt compelled to resign from student government. The fact that the situation deteriorated to this point demonstrates how much more work must be done to fight anti-Semitism at USC.

AMCHA Initiative director Tammi Rossman-Benjamin also said in a statement to the Journal, I commend the president for her strong, prompt and forceful statement condemning the hate and harassment that was directed at Rose Ritch for expressing her Zionist identity. I hope that President Folt will take steps to ensure that no USC student has to endure such hateful behavior that violates their fundamental right to express their identity and fully participate in campus life.

The Stop Anti-Semitism.org watchdog tweeted, Words without actions mean NOTHING President Folt! We demand every student involved in this harassment campaign be punished.

Ritch wrote in her resignation letter that she had been harassed for being a supporter of Israel.

I have been told that my support for Israel has made me complicit in racism, and that, by association, I am racist, Ritch wrote. Students launched an aggressive social media campaign to impeach [my] Zionist a. This is anti-Semitism, and cannot be tolerated at a University that proclaims to nurture an environment of mutual respect and tolerance.

She added, An attack on my Zionist identity is an attack on my Jewish identity. The suggestion that my support for a Jewish homeland would make me unfit for office or would justify my impeachment plays into the oldest stereotypes of Jews, including accusations of dual loyalty and holding all Jews responsible for the actions of the Israeli government.

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted, Students should feel safe at college regardless of their views. Its outrageous that this young woman and @USC student VP felt forced to resign after being deliberately targeted and relentlessly harassed simply because of her Zionism. USC must act immediately.

The campaign against Ritch stems from student Abeer Tijani calling on USG President Truman Fritz to be impeached in June over alleged racial remarks. She also accused Ritch of being complicit due to her silence on the matter and therefore she should either be impeached or resign. Tijani later acknowledged on her Instagram page that while Ritchs support for Israel shouldnt disqualify her from being USG vice president and it would be anti-Semitic to blame her for the Israeli governments policies, the need for Palestinian students voices to be heard is a bigger issue that is greater than Rose and her personal affiliations.

Fritz resigned from his position on July 7.

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USC President Calls Student VP Resignation Letter 'Heartbreaking,' Says Anti-Semitism 'Has No Place at the University' - Jewish Journal

The Survivors’ Talmud: When the US Army Printed the Talmud – The Jewish Voice

Posted By on August 8, 2020

By: Dr. Yvette Alt Miller

As World War II drew to a close in 1945, survivors of the Nazi death camps tried to rebuild their shattered lives in Displaced Person (DP) camps, many of which were housed in the very concentration camps in which Nazis had recently tortured and murdered Jews and others.

On September 29, over three months after the end of the war in Europe, US President Harry S. Truman wrote a scathing letter to Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was in charge of American troops in occupied Germany, describing the horrific conditions that Jews were still living in. Pres. Truman quoted from a report on the conditions in the DP camps that hed commissioned: As matters now stand, we appear to be treating the Jews as the Nazis treated them except that we do not exterminate them. They are in concentration camps in large numbers under our military guard instead of S.S. troops. One is led to wonder whether the German people, seeing this, are not supposing that we are following or at least condoning Nazi policy.

Truman argued that we have a particular responsibility toward these victims of persecution and tyranny who are in our zone. We must make clear to the German people that we thoroughly abhor the Nazi policies of hatred and persecution. We have no better opportunity to demonstrate this than by the manner in which we ourselves actually treat the survivors remaining in Germany.

With American support, Jewish life slowly began to return to the camps. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee moved into many DP camps and helped distribute food and medical supplies. They also helped set up Jewish schools in the camps, aided at times by the American army and also by some remarkable rabbis whod survived the Holocaust and were determined now to rebuild Jewish life.

One huge problem prevented the resumption of Jewish education and religious services: while the Nazis murdered as many Jews as possible and tried to wipe out Jewish existence, they also destroyed countless Jewish books, Torah scrolls and other ritual objects. Allied officials were able to find some Jewish prayer books in Nazi warehouses, but the ragged Jewish survivors in DP camps still lacked many basic Jewish books and supplies.

One leader who stepped in to help was Rabbi Avrohom Kalmanowitz. Born in Russia, Rabbi Kalmanowitz was head of the renowned Mir Yeshiva, one of the greatest yeshivas in the world. In 1939, with war looming, Rabbi Kalmanowitz decided to relocate his famous school from Lithuania to Kobe, in Japan. He set out to bring 575 members of the school, but soon found himself leading nearly 3,000 Jews who were desperate to escape Nazi Europe. He led this group, which included many sick and elderly Jews, across Russia and Siberia and onto Japan. For much of the journey, stronger members of the group would carry those who couldnt walk on their backs.

After Japan attacked the United States, Rabbi Kalmanowitz moved his yeshiva once more, to Shanghai. There he improvised printing presses using stones and managed to publish 38,000 Jewish books. While Hitler was burning books and bodies, Rabbi Kalmanowitz later recalled, the men of Mirrer (the Mir Yeshiva) who had traveled 16,000 miles from Lithuania to Shanghai were using stones for printing presses to keep the light of learning alive. After the end of the war, Rabbi Kalmanowitz returned to Europe, and once more championed the printing of Jewish books and preservation of Jewish life.

Rabbi Kalmanowitz was a leading figure in the Agudat Harabbanim and the Vaad Hatzalah. He cultivated contacts with American military officials and oversaw the printing of Jewish prayer books, Passover Haggadahs, copies of the Megillah of Esther for Purim, and even some volumes of the Talmud. Rabbi Kalmanowitz is a patient and appreciative old patriarch, Gen. John Hilldring, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Occupied Areas, wrote to a colleague. I can think of no assistance I gave anyone in Washingtonthat gave me more satisfaction than the very little help I gave the old rabbi. Rabbi Kalmanowitz requested resources to print even more Jewish books but was told that with the acute shortage of paper in Germany, more ambitious plans to print Jewish books was impossible.

Seeing Rabbi Kalmanowitzs success in printing some Jewish books and even some volumes of the Talmud, another Jewish leader in Europe at the time began to dream of an even more ambitious project. The chief rabbi of the US Zone in Europe was Rabbi Samuel Abba Snieg. He was a commanding figure. Before he was captured by the Nazis he was a chaplain in the Lithuanian army. He was sent to the Jewish Ghetto in Slabodka, a town near Kovno in Lithuania which was renowned as a center of Jewish intellectual life. From there, Rabbi Snieg was sent to the notorious Dachau concentration camp. He survived, and after being liberated dedicated his life to rebuilding Jewish life. He was assisted by Rabbi Samuel Jakob Rose, a young man whod studied at the famous Slabodka Yeshiva before the Holocaust. They resolved to approach the US military for help in printing copies of the Talmud the first volumes of the Talmud to be printed in Europe since the Holocaust.

A set of Talmud called Shas is made up of 63 tractates, comprising 2711 double-sided pages. For millennia, its many volumes have been studied day and night by Jews around the world. Printing a complete set of the Talmud would send a powerful message that Jewish life was possible once again.

Whom to ask for help? General Joseph McNarney was the commander of American forces in Europe. The rabbis wondered if there might be a way to reach him with their request, and decided to approach his advisor for Jewish affairs, an American Reform rabbi from New York named Philip S. Bernstein.

Rabbi Bernstein came from a very different background from the black-hatted Orthodox rabbis laboring in the DP camps. On the surface, perhaps, the men looked very different. But Rabbi Bernsteins mother had come from Lithuania and he had a deep attachment to Jewish life and was open to requests for help in rebuilding Jewish education in the DP camps. Rabbi Snieg and Rabbi Rose explained their proposal to print whole sets of the Talmud on German soil, and Rabbi Bernstein became an enthusiastic supporter of the plan.

They arranged a meeting with Gen. McNarney in Frankfurt where they asked if the US army would lend the tools for the perpetuation of religion, for the students who crave these texts Gen McNarney realized that printing sets of the Talmud would be a powerful symbol of the triumph of Jewish life supported by American forces in the lands where it had so nearly been wiped out. On September 11, 1946, he signed an agreement with the American Joint Distribution Committee and Rabbinical Council of the US Zone in Germany to print fifty copies of the Talmud, packaged into 16 volume sets. It would be the first time in history that an army agreed to print copies of this core Jewish text. The project became known as the Survivors Talmud.

The team immediately ran into obstacles. First, it was impossible to find a set of Shas (the entire Talmud) anywhere in the US Zone of former Nazi lands. Every Jew in Poland was ordered, upon pain of death, to carry to the Nazi bonfires and personally consign to the flames his copy of the Talmud, one testimony recorded. In the end, a member of the American Joint Distribution Committee brought two complete sets of the Talmud from New York.

Even though the US Army had agreed to print the volumes, some officials objected to the expense. The timeframe and scope of the project kept changing. Then there was the sheer labor involved in printing what eventually became nineteen-volume sets of the Talmud: each copy needed 1,800 zinc plates which had to be painstakingly set and proofread. The project began in 1947 and was finally completed in late 1950. we are Gott sie Dank (Thank God) packing the Talmud an American Joint Distribution Committee employee wrote in November, when they began distributing the Talmud. The Joint paid for additional sets of the Talmud to be printed; in the end, about 3,000 volumes were made. These were then shipped all over the world wherever Holocaust survivors from the the DP camps were settling. The Survivors Talmud made its way to New York, Antwerp, Paris, Algeria, Italy, Hungary, Morocco, Tunisia, South Africa, Greece, Yugoslavia, Norway, Sweden, and Israel.

From the outside, these sets of the Survivors Talmud looked like any other set of Shas. Their special origin is only visible on the title page, which shows a picture of the Land of Israel as well as a concentration camp surrounded by a barbed wire fence, with the words From bondage to freedom, from darkness to a great light. Below is this touching dedication:

This edition of the Talmud is dedicated to the United States Army. The Army played a major role in the rescue of the Jewish people from total annihilation, and their defeat of Hitler bore the major burden of sustaining the DPs of the Jewish faith. This special edition of the Talmud, published in the very land where, but a short time ago, everything Jewish and of Jewish inspiration was anathema, will remain a symbol of the indestructibility of the Torah. The Jewish DPs will never forget the generous impulses and the unprecedented humanitarianism of the American Forces, to whom they owe so much.

Some individual owners of this remarkable set of Talmud wrote their own dedications as well. One rabbi of a small town in Israel near Jerusalem recalled how he lost his wife and children when they were murdered in the Holocaust. Living in Israel, he spent his days studying from his Survivors Talmud. On the first page he hand-wrote his own dedication as well, which surely was the hope of many other survivors who studied this remarkable Survivors Talmud as well:

May it be Thy will that I be privileged to dwell quietly in the land; to study the holy Torah amid contentment of mind, peace, and security for the rest of my days; that I may learn, teach, heed, do and fulfill in love all the words of Thy Love. May I yet be remembered for salvation for the sake of my parents who sanctified Thy name when living and when led to their martyrs eath. May their blood be avenged! May I merit to witness soon the final redemption of Israel. Amen.

This was the prayer of so many of the Jews who helped print and then studied the Survivors Talmud. This remarkable undertaking was a way of declaring that no matter how terrible circumstances became, Jews would always find a way to return to the Jewish texts that have always sustained us.

(www.Aish.com)

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The Survivors' Talmud: When the US Army Printed the Talmud - The Jewish Voice

Is COVID-19 the death of the synagogue? – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on August 8, 2020

The Hebrew word hefker represents the concept of total disarray. It means there is no organizational structure. It is a form of anarchy. Hefker happens where there is no central rule. It is hefker when and where a minimum standard of behavior is no longer adhered to.

COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on the world, and the Jewish community is not immune to its destructive force. As a consequence of the pandemic, hefker now rules in many synagogues across America. Religious institutions have been asked or told to undergo a shift in business as usual. The numbers of worshipers have been severely restricted. Prayer length has been shortened. Participants have been asked to wear masks and to maintain social distance.

And many do. But many is not all, and too many flaunt the system.

There are entire areas in Brooklyn, NY, where large numbers of Jews live and pray, where almost no one wears masks. Not in synagogue and not on the streets. And they certainly dont socially distance.

In other parts of New York, suburban areas and upstate, prayer areas are inside buildings and outside on lawns and in parking lots, even under tents. There are porch groups and backyard minyanim (prayer quorums) where people engage in ad hoc prayer. Some offer those who come to pray a choice: Choose the location that best fits your new lifestyle. Choices include a section for mask-wearers, a section for those who prefer not to wear masks or a blend of both. They all get takers.

There are synagogues where kids are permitted and synagogues where they are not permitted. In some, they are required to sit next to a parent and not roam around, and in others children can roam around freely. Sometimes there is an age requirement, in others not.

Many of the people who choose not to wear masks and not to socially distance taunt those who do. They flaunt their independent decision-making and call the other group alarmist and extremist. They flaunt their non-compliance.

There are not supposed to be social gatherings. That would include the long-held tradition of having a communal kiddush after praying. But many synagogues still have them.

Hefker. Plain and simple, hefker.

Even as synagogues begin to open, as rabbis and responsible leaders ease up on some restrictions, they are not at peak attendance. Ad hoc prayer groups have become comfortable for many. What would be a temporary disruption in our lives back in March has become our new normal. Some people have discovered that they actually like praying at home, alone. Or they like the feel of small groups. Its the case even in the Orthodox world.

FOR MANY, attending a synagogue is more about socializing than it was about prayer. And if there is no kiddush and no socializing, there is no reason to attend.

That does not mean they are assimilating or violating Shabbat or taking their kids out of Jewish day schools. It means they are not attending synagogue not attending because, spiritually, they do not need to attend. And Dr. Fauci and the CDC and their governors and religious leaders have sanctioned the act of not going to brick and mortar places of worship and of not praying with a minyan.

The High Holy Days are fast approaching. Traditionally, that is the time when even those who do not regularly attend services, attend. They buy High Holiday seats tickets. It is the season when people make contributions, donating money in memory of their loved ones. The annual Yizkor (memorial) book has become a valuable fund-raiser for many communities.

Bottom line? In addition to the spiritually uplifting side of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, they were synagogue money-makers. Over the years, the High Holy Days provided a significant source of needed revenue for the operational budget of synagogues.

This year, that is about the change.

COVID-19 and hefker have combined and become a one-two punch that just might knock out the model of the synagogue as we know it. COVID-19 and hefker might have caused the destruction of the synagogue as we know it.

If a synagogue was simply a prayer room where people came and left with almost no expenses, they could manage to weather this crisis. But most synagogues across America have a business model that articulates that they are much more than simply a prayer room. They are a place for classes and childrens groups and catered events. All that costs money and brings in money. And most of that in some places all of that is now gone.

The business model of the synagogue must change if Jewish organized prayer hopes to survive. Zoom teaching is one vehicle of change. But it is only one. With Zoom or virtual learning, anyone located anywhere has the potential to click on, usually for free.

Even before the pandemic synagogues were dying a slow death. With few exceptions, and rentals aside, most Jewish buildings today have fewer than 30 people under their roofs at a single moment more than once a week.

If synagogues hope to survive, they must reign in the non-compliant and make it a place where everyone feels safe. They must be creative. Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist or unaffiliated, synagogues must create an entire virtual world that is dynamic, enticing and magnetizing.

If synagogues hope to survive, they must answer three questions: Why should I join? Why should I give you my hard-earned money? What I am going to get in return?

And then they must provide two models of answers: They must give virtual answers and they must give brick-and-mortar answers.

If they fail, even long after COVID-19, hefker will prevail.

The author is a political commentator who hosts the TV show Thinking Out Loud on JBS TV. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern.

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Is COVID-19 the death of the synagogue? - The Jerusalem Post

Berlin: ‘New Synagogue’ Celebrates 25th Anniversary of Reopening – The Berlin Spectator

Posted By on August 8, 2020

For many reasons, Berlins New Synagogue is a very special building. First of all, its beauty is undeniable. Also, it is of high importance to Berlins Jews as well as their history. And it survived the Nazis.

There was an Old Synagogue in Berlins Heidereutergasse in the 1850s, when the number of Jews in the congregation grew substantially. Back then, the situation called for a new synagogue. In 1856, the congregation purchased a property in Oranienburger Strasse, located in a very Jewish neighborhood. It seemed to be just the right place for the project.

Completed in 1866

It was the spring of 1857, when a commission headed by Eduard Knoblauch started an architecture competition for a new synagogue. None of the entries were convincing, which is why Knoblauch ended up designing and planning the temple himself. Friedrich August Stler took over when Knoblauch became too ill to continue.

On May 20th, 1859, the construction commenced. The New Synagogue was completed seven years later, on September 5th, 1866, which was Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Years day. It turned out to be impressive and beautiful, both its interior and its appearance from the outside. In fact is was so impressive and exotic, regarding its style, that even some Jews complained. They said the temple would not help the integration of Jews into society.

Fontane Liked New Synagogue

But most Jews were happy about the New Synagogue, the costs for which had sextupled during the construction period. So was the great German author Theodor Fontane who recommended a visit at the new Jewish temple to anyone interested in architecture.

The congregation picked Rabbi Joseph Aub, a reformer. Not everyone agreed with the way the reformer conducted the prayer services. Some members opposed the use of the big organ which was installed in 1868. At some point, the congregation split in two. Conservative Jews formed their own in 1869. Today, 150 years later, the Jewish congregation at the New Synagogue is a conservative one.

Krtzfeld Saves Building

During the Night of Broken Glass on November 9th, 1938, an antisemitic mob consisting of members of Hitlers paramilitary organization Sturmabteilung (SA) wanted to set the New Synagogue on fire. They did not expect to meet a policemen like Wilhelm Krtzfeld.

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He stopped the Nazis, by telling them the building was under monument protection, and called the firefighters who extinguished flames that had already done damage to the interior. Krtzfeld prevented the New Synagogue from being destroyed. A plaque on the building commemorates him. In Schleswig-Holstein, a police academy carries his name.

GDR Starts Reconstruction

When Berlin was bombed, the New Synagogue sustained damage in November of 1943. After the war, parts of the house of God were used as material for other buildings. In 1958, the GDR authorities had damaged parts of the building removed. They cited a danger of collapse as the reason. In the end, not much of the New Synagogue was left.

But in November of 1988, shortly before the end of the GDR and communism in Europe, the authorities in East Berlin started reconstructing the New Synagogue. They had even employed an American rabbi who was spied on by the housekeeper they provided to him. After Germanys reunification, the reconstruction continued.

Anniversary of Reopening

Twenty-five years ago, on May 7th, 1995, the New Synagogue was finally reopened. Today, it offers a museum with an exhibition about Jewish life in Berlin and the temples history. Regular prayer services are being conducted by Rabbi Gesa Ederberg.

For the 25th anniversary of the reopening, Governing Mayor Michael Mller said the New Synagogue was an indispensable part of Berlin and one of the citys Landmarks. It symbolized the history of the Jewish community as well as its affiliation with Berlin.

Josef Schuster, the President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said he remembered the first time he had looked at the New Synagogue. Back then he had been moved by the fact that Judaism had finally been visible in Berlin, the city in which the annihilation of the Jewish people was planned and managed during the so-called Third Reich.

By the way: Thank you for readingThe Berlin Spectator. You can keep on doing so for free, since we do not have any paywalls and we do not intend to introduce any. Thats fine. We are glad you are here.On the other hand, if you likeThe Berlin Spectator, and if you want to support us,you can do so by clickinghere(direct Paypal link). Because of your support, we will worry less. Thank you!

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Berlin: 'New Synagogue' Celebrates 25th Anniversary of Reopening - The Berlin Spectator

Religion events online and in-person in the San Fernando Valley area, Aug. 8-15 – LA Daily News

Posted By on August 8, 2020

Most religious congregation continue to hold services and classes/lectures online only due to the coronavirus pandemic concerns and restrictions.

Services and other religious gatherings may take place outdoors if social distancing and mask-wearing are observed.

Here is a sampling of upcoming services and events.

Temple Ramat Zion: Shabbat service, 9 a.m. Aug. 8. Watch the service here: bit.ly/2C4Z8Y5. Kabbalat Shabbat, 6 p.m. Aug. 14 (check the YouTube channel link to watch). The Conservative Jewish synagogue is in Northridge. 818-360-1881. http://www.trz.org

St. Innocent Orthodox Church: The Rev. Yousuf Rassam leads the Great Vespers service, 5:30 p.m. Aug. 8 (watch on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/StInnocentTarzana). The Divine Liturgy is outdoors and open to the public, 9:30 a.m. Aug. 9. 5657 Lindley Ave., Tarzana. 818-881-1123. Church website: stioctca.orthodoxws.com

Shepherd Church: Worship services, 6 p.m. Aug. 8, and 9 and 11 a.m. Aug. 9 (live.shepherdchurch.com). The church is in Porter Ranch. Email: mail@shepherdchurch.com. http://www.theshepherd.org/#

Worship Services with West Valley Christian Church: Outdoor Saturday, 6 p.m. Aug. 8 (under the awning). Two services available on Aug. 9: Outdoor on the lawn, 9 a.m. (bring your own blanket or chair, shade umbrella, wear a mask and practice social distancing); Online, 10:45 a.m. (go to website for link). Register online for the 6 p.m. Aug. 8 and 9 a.m. Aug. 9 services (www.journey365.org/about/covid-19). West Valley Christian Church, 22450 Sherman Way, West Hills. 818-884-6480. http://www.wvcch.org; http://www.facebook.com/westvalley.christianchurch

Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles: The daily Masses are live streamed from the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels, 7 a.m. (in Spanish) and 8 a.m. (in English); Sunday Masses are live streamed, 7 a.m. (in Spanish) and 10 a.m. (in English): lacatholics.org/mass-for-the-homebound. For local parishes that live stream Mass: lacatholics.org/parish-livestreams. For more information: lacatholics.org

Our Redeemer Lutheran Church: Two services on Aug. 9: An out-door traditional service in the Serenity Garden, 8:30 a.m. (must make a phone reservation by noon Aug. 8 to attend; see website for rules to follow; bring your own Bible), and a contemporary and live stream service, 11 a.m. 8520 Winnetka Ave., Winnetka. 818-341-3460. http://www.our-redeemer.org

First Presbyterian Church of Granada Hills: The Rev. Jourdan Turner delivers the message at the live stream Sunday service, 9 a.m. Aug. 9 (www.fpcgh.org/watch). See website for church bulletin for specifics on the service. http://www.fpcgh.org; http://www.facebook.com/fpcgh

The Church on the Way: The Revs. Deborah and Tim Clark lead the online Sunday services, 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. Aug. 9. The church is in Van Nuys. 818-779-8000. Email: info@tcotw.org. thechurchontheway.org; http://www.facebook.com/myTCOTW

Tenth Sunday After Pentecost with St. Luke Lutheran Church: The Rev. Janet Hansted leads the service, 9:30 a.m. Aug. 9. Click on the Zoom link from the church website. The church is in Woodland Hills. 818-346-3070. http://www.stlukelutheran.com

Communal Reflection American Jews, Civil Rights and Racial Justice: Adat Ari El presents a four-part lecture by Marc Dollinger, author and a professor at San Francisco State University, 10-11:30 a.m. Aug. 9, 16, 23 and 30. 818-766-9426. Click on the link to watch bit.ly/310tSSl. http://www.adatariel.org

Atheism and Free Thinkers: Guest speaker Richard Ward, president of the Santa Clarita Atheists and Free Thinkers, discusses the topic, 10 a.m. Aug. 9. Find the Zoom link on the website. 616-796-5598. Email: bill@billfreeman.org. http://www.billfreeman.org

In His Steps?: The Rev. Joseph Choi explains the message, based on 1 Peter 2:18-21, 10 a.m. (in English) and 11:30 a.m. (in Korean) on Aug. 9. Watch here: youtube.com/numcvideo. Northridge United Methodist Church, 9650 Reseda Blvd. 818-886-1555. http://www.northridgeumc.org

We Dont Have to Do It Like Billy Graham: Church member Tom Hislop explains the message, based on Luke 9:57-62 and Matthew 28:19-20, at 10 a.m. (English language) and 1 p.m. (Tongan language), on Aug. 9. Knollwood United Methodist Church in Granada Hills. 818-360-8111. Watch on YouTube from the churchs website http://www.knollwoodchurch.com

Tenth Sunday After Pentecost with Prince of Peace Episcopal Church: Readings for the 10 a.m. Aug. 9 service include Psalm 119:1-8, Deuteronomy 5:21, Romans 13:8-10 and Mark 4:18-19. The church is in Woodland Hills. Find the Sunday bulletin and link to the service here: bit.ly/2EtWNGQ. 818-346-6968. http://www.popwh.org

Sunday service with the Episcopal Church of St. Andrew and St. Charles: The Rev. Canon Greg Frost leads the online service, 10 a.m. Aug. 9. Check the website for the YouTube link. The church is in Granada Hills. 818-366-7541. Email: office@2saints.org. http://www.facebook.com/2saintsgranadahills; http://www.2saints.org

Reseda Church of Christ: Live stream Sunday service, 10 a.m. Aug. 9. http://www.facebook.com/ResedaChurch; resedachurch.com

Sunday service with Sherman Oaks United Methodist Church: The Rev. Garth C. Gilliam delivers the message, 10 a.m. Aug. 9. Check the website for the church bulletin for the service. Watch the service from the website or listen by phone, 669-900-6833 and use ID: 92413458020. Church, 818-789-0351. Email: soumc@sbcglobal.net. soumc.org; http://www.facebook.com/soumc.church

Woodland Hills Community Church (United Church of Christ): The Rev. Craig Peterson leads the 10 a.m. Aug. 9 service. Piano prelude, 9:45 a.m. Watch on Facebook here: bit.ly/2AxVuoq; woodlandhillscommunitychurch.org

Three Good Things: Guest speaker the Rev. Anne Felton Hines, with Linda Fitzgerald and Adam Nisenholz, tech associate, lead the online service, 10:30 a.m. Aug. 9. Check website for the link and password to join the Zoom service or join by phone, 669-900-6833 and use ID: 8581092800. For upcoming services and church information contact Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church in Canoga Park. 818-887-6101. http://www.emersonuuc.org

Whats in Your Wallet?: The Rev. Stephen Rambo explains the message during the online service, 10:30 a.m. Aug. 9. Center for Spiritual Living-Simi Valley. 805-527-0870. http://www.cslsimi.org; http://www.facebook.com/cslsimi

Who Are We?: The Rev. Michael McMorrow explains the message, 10:30 a.m. Aug. 9 (bit.ly/336XPCR). Center for Spiritual Living-Granada Hills. 818-363-8136. Watch the service here cslgh.com or here: http://www.facebook.com/csl.granadahills

When It All Goes Wrong: The Rev. Steve Peralta, from North Hollywood United Methodist Church, explains the message, based on Genesis 37:1-4 and 12-28, 10:30 a.m. Aug. 9. Click here to join the service on Zoom: bit.ly/3kjFt7Q. 818-763-8231. Email: nohofumc@gmail.com. Facebook: bit.ly/2BPcdo4. nohofumc.org

Sunday service with Congregational Church of the Chimes: The Revs. Beth Bingham and Curtis Peek lead the live stream service, 10:30 a.m. Aug. 9. Click here for the service: bit.ly/392shiy. The church is in Sherman Oaks. 818-789-7124. Email: office@churchofthechimes.org. churchofthechimes.org

The Power of Acceptance: Matt Toronto shares his thoughts on the centers August theme, 11 a.m. Aug. 9 (use this Zoom link and ID: 3148040257). Unity Burbank Center for Spiritual Awareness. http://www.facebook.com/unityburbank

Lets Get Uncomfortable A Conversation About Death and Jewish Ritual: Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills presents the talk with Rabbi Stewart Vogel, senior rabbi at the Conservative Jewish temple, and Kimber Sax, director of advance planning at Mount Sinai Memorial Parks and Mortuaries, 7:30-9 p.m. Aug. 11. Free. Register in advance to receive the Zoom link: bit.ly/3fgc22M. 818-346-3545. http://www.templealiyah.org

Preparing Our Souls for the High Holy Days: Shomrei Torah Synagogue in West Hills co-presents an online six-part program with the Center for Contemporary Mussar in Philadelphia. First lecture On Elul: Introducing the Month of Preparation, with Rabbi Ira Stone, from Rosh Yesivah, the Center for Contemporary Mussar, 5-6 p.m. Aug. 12. Upcoming lectures, presented on Thursdays, include repentance, prayer, tzedakah, averting and preparing for Yom Kippur. Free. Register in advance bit.ly/2DmbN94. 818-854-7650. stsonline.org

Adat Ari El: Shabbat services, 6 p.m. Aug. 14 and 9:30 a.m. Aug. 15 (Torah portion: Reeh). The Conservative Jewish congregation is in Valley Village. The congregations Facebook: bit.ly/31u5ski. http://www.adatariel.org/worship/shabbat-services; http://www.adatariel.org

Temple Beth Hillel online: Shabbat service, join at 6 p.m. Aug. 14 (watch online or call 669-900-6833; tbhla.org/tbh-online). The Reform Jewish congregation is in Valley Village. 818-763-9148. tbhla.org

Shomrei Torah Synagogue: Kabbalat Shabbat, 6 p.m. Aug. 14 and a Shabbat morning service, 10 a.m. Aug. 15. Click on the link to download the prayer book and to watch the Shabbat services and other programming, http://www.stsonline.org/media-galleries/live-streaming. The synagogue is in West Hills. 818-854-7650. http://www.stsonline.org

Temple Judea: Shabbat live stream service, 6:15 p.m. Aug. 14. More online programming, see this page: templejudea.com/covid19response The Reform Jewish congregation is in Tarzana. The temples Facebook: bit.ly/3fEI0G5. 818-758-3800. Email: info@templejudea.com. templejudea.com

Temple Ahavat Shalom: Rabbi Becky Hoffman leads the 6:30 p.m. Aug. 14 (contact the temple in advance for a link to the Zoom service). The temple is in Northridge. 818-360-2258. Email: info@tasnorthridge.org. http://www.facebook.com/TASnorthridge; http://www.tasnorthridge.org

Temple Aliyah: Shabbat services, 7 p.m. Aug. 14 and a morning service, 10:30 a.m. Aug. 15 (check website for Zoom meeting information or, by phone, 669-900-9128 and use ID 114134 894). The Conservative Jewish congregation is in Woodland Hills. The temples Facebook: bit.ly/3gBeqCL. templealiyah.org/livestream; http://www.templealiyah.org

Shabbat at Temple Beth Emet: The Burbank temple holds a service, 7 p.m. Aug. 14. Check here for Zoom instructions to join the service: bit.ly/2ONsBZe. 818-843-4787. Email: office@templebethemet.com. http://www.templebethemet.com

Valley Beth Shalom: For Shabbat services, prerecorded lectures and classes, check the schedule here: http://www.vbs.org/vbsathome The Conservative Jewish congregation is in Encino. 818-788-6000. The congregations Facebook: bit.ly/3aeiwi5. http://www.vbs.org

Send information at least two weeks ahead. holly.andres@dailynews.com. 818-713-3708.

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Religion events online and in-person in the San Fernando Valley area, Aug. 8-15 - LA Daily News

Grace and remembrance – Arkansas Online

Posted By on August 8, 2020

In the Jacobs home, Shabbat has become synonymous with two things: Facebook Live and Shira Averbuch, the ukulele-playing, golden-voiced singer who serves as the artist-in-residence at B'nai Jeshurun, a nearly 200-year-old synagogue on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

"Shabbat Shalom!" she begins, warmly greeting each of the children listening from home. "I'm so happy you're all here. Should we start getting ready for Shabbat? What do you think?"

Avery Jacobs, 3, often sings along to the "Bim Bam" song in her family's Manhattan apartment or in the patio of her grandparents' home on Long Island. When Averbuch tells the kids that she's feeling "that Shabbat feeling" in her heart, their parents respond in the comments: They feel it in their head. Their hair. "Avery feels it in her feet!" writes Lindsay Jacobs, 33, Avery's mother.

Weeks later, she said, "Seeing Shira's face has been the one piece of comfort we've had through this whole thing."

[CORONAVIRUS: Click here for our complete coverage arkansasonline.com/coronavirus]

Shabbat, the seventh day of rest in the Jewish tradition, is a time of joy, relaxation and worship. Likewise, Eid al-Adha, the Muslim feast of the sacrifice held at the end of July, is a celebration. And on Sundays, Christians gather to pray, sing and receive sacraments.

AS THEY USUALLY DO

But none of those rituals have played out as they usually do.

One of the cruelties of the coronavirus is that it has led places of worship to not only strip away in-person religious traditions, but also modify or eliminate community gatherings all at a time when the faithful -- still reeling from the effects of an unrelenting pandemic -- need them most.

For families with young children, this presents an especially big challenge: Without in-person religious education or volunteer activities, how do parents keep kids engaged in their religion? How can a family "love thy neighbor as thyself" in a world where close social interaction is discouraged?

Carrie Willard, 42, an administrator at Rice University in Houston, said that for her two boys, 12 and 9, the "big-C challenge" is the ability to see God in other people rather than casting judgment because they aren't making the same choices. But what she and many other families continue to grieve is the loss of their in-person community, especially during the holidays.

"Easter was this weird but not terrible thing," Willard said. Their church was closed, so her family lit a fire pit in their yard and her husband, who is the rector at Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church in Houston, read a sermon.

"It was really lovely," she said. "And I think that's what we'll remember, I hope."

Willard's family and others are finding new ways to express their faith and imbue their children with notions of grace and giving, even if the circumstances aren't ideal.

"Nothing can fully take the place of the communal face-to-face gatherings of religious communities," said Dr. Tyler VanderWeele, an epidemiologist and co-director of the Initiative on Health, Religion and Spirituality at Harvard University. VanderWeele and his colleagues have examined how religious upbringing and religious service attendance can shape the lives of adolescents. Their 2018 study found that among the adolescents studied, attending religious services at least once a week was associated with greater life satisfaction, lower probabilities of marijuana use, greater frequency of volunteering and fewer lifetime sexual partners.

A MORAL FOUNDATION

In-person services are also meaningful for parents. A 2017 Pew Research Center survey found that of those U.S. adults surveyed who attended church at least once a month, two-thirds said they did so to give their children a moral foundation, to become better people, and for comfort in times of trouble or sorrow.

Asma Uddin, 40, an author and religious liberty lawyer, said having community events, such as celebrating Eid together or attending Muslim summer camp, "gives you a sense that there are people like us."

Uddin, who lives in Rockville, Md., described how slowing down during Ramadan this spring was "spiritually uplifting," but if there continues to be fewer traditional in-person gatherings, she is concerned that her children might not learn how essential religious community is to their Muslim identity.

Victor Rodriguez, 55, and his wife, Juana Rodriguez, 46, members of the Church of the Ascension, a Roman Catholic Church in Manhattan, have similar worries. He and his family of six attended church in person every Sunday, but now only he and his wife watch Mass on YouTube at 9 a.m. on Sundays.

Their four children, ages 14, 13, 8, and 5, used to volunteer at the church's food pantry, which was mainly staffed by kids. But when the pandemic hit, it was no longer considered safe for them to participate and the adults took over.

"It's real difficult," said Victor Rodriguez, an unemployed carpenter. Even so, he added, "we have to learn to live with this right now. We have to take precautions for us and others."

PROTECT THEIR COMMUNITY

Ed Brojan, 53, a member of the Chesapeake Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Baltimore, said his family has opted out of the small, in-person gatherings permitted by their church because he and his wife are nurses who want to help protect their community by remaining socially distanced. But they and their two children, 15 and 13, hold a sacrament service at home, something male members of the church can do if they become a priesthood holder.

"I definitely miss the feeling of community, the feeling of fellowship," Brojan said, referring to the services of yore.

The lack of community also has been tough for Holley Barreto, 40, a baker and cooking instructor, as well as her husband and their two children, who are 11 and 10.

"That's been a real loss for us when we can't physically gather with church members," said Barreto, whose family has participated in activities at Nassau Presbyterian Church in Princeton, N.J., throughout the week. "That's taken away a lot of what we really leaned on."

About a month ago, Catholic churches were permitted to reopen in New York City, and churches have fought to reopen in other parts of the country, too. Some families did not hesitate to return.

"I am kind of honestly tired of doing all this online stuff," said Robert Farina-Mosca, 54, who is now attending in-person services at Holy Trinity, a Roman Catholic church in Manhattan, with his 11-year-old son.

'I STILL CARE ABOUT YOU'

In the absence of any formal religious education, his son has been making cards that are delivered along with food donations. On one of the cards, he drew a platter with two chicken legs and wrote "Enjoy your meal." Then, on the inside: "Even though I don't know you, I still care about you."

Experts say small, simple gestures like those can help guide children in the tenets of their faith.

Corrie Berg, the director of educational ministries at Nassau Presbyterian Church, is empathetic to the many responsibilities parents are shouldering right now.

"I just don't think our parents particularly have the bandwidth to be creating -- or even just following -- at-home Bible studies or devotions or simple readings," Berg said. "All of that requires uploads, downloads, links, clicks, print outs -- and as a parent, especially with littler ones, you're just like: 'I can't even. There's no way.'"

'DO LESS, BETTER'

Her philosophy is to "do less, better."

David Zahl, a young adult minister at Christ Episcopal Church in Charlottesville, Va., agrees.

Zahl, the author of "Seculosity," a book about how parenting, career and other worldly things have become like a religion, said parents often tell him how they feel guilty for missing religious services online. "It's a mix of anxiety and deep fatigue," he said.

Zoom church for young kids, with a few exceptions, is pretty much a nonstarter, he acknowledged.

"The first thing I want to say to them is, 'It's OK. Cross that off your list. God is not mad at you,'" Zahl said.

David Carey, 48, a hospice chaplain, said that before the pandemic he regularly attended services at The Refuge Church where he lives in Windham, Maine, and his twin boys, who are 5, went to Sunday School. But now everything is online and they're "Zoom-ed out," he said.

'TRANSCEND A LOT OF THINGS'

So he started playing Christian children's songs at home and singing them when he and his family spend time outside.

"I remember thinking, and even praying, 'Lord, how will they ever get to know any of this stuff?' And then all of a sudden they start singing this on their own," he said. "I've learned music is a way to transcend a lot of things."

In some respects, Zahl said, the pandemic could be considered an opportunity to help children better understand their religion.

"For parents who see things like prayer, spiritual conversation, asking for forgiveness, and overall modeling of grace in practice as the heart of their faith, well, the pandemic has been something of a gold mine," he said.

Lindsay and Robert Jacobs, and their daughter, Avery, watching a virtual Shabbat service hosted by Shira Averbuch.(The New York Times/Andrew White)

The Barreto family (from left) is Holley, Elena, Eric and Nico. They have held small socially distant gatherings in their backyard in Princeton, N.J., to see some of their friends from church.(The New York Times/Hannah Yoon)

Ten-year-old Nico Barreto (center) and his sister, Elena, 11, pray with their family. During the pandemic, they have also started saying what they are thankful for, like workers at grocery stores and small businesses.(The New York Times/Hannah Yoon)

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Grace and remembrance - Arkansas Online


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