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  • Covid and Jewish Engagement Research - High Holidays 2020 Report

    Among the many ways that the pandemic profoundly changed Jewish engagement, the High Holidays of 2020 stands out as a particularly fascinating case study. It was a kind of controlled experiment; essentially no one was able to celebrate or observe the holidays in the ways they were used to, so everyone was doing something somewhat different than usual. Institutions of all kinds innovated to adapt to the restrictions, and new ways of engaging emerged and spread more broadly than could have been previously imagined. In an effort to understand the ways in which people’s engagement with the High Holidays changed during this past year, and what it might reveal about Jewish engagement more broadly, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, Jim Joseph Foundation and Aviv Foundation funded research through the Jewish Community Response and Impact Fund (JCRIF) to illuminate new patterns of participation and motivations. In the winter of 2020-2021, Benenson Strategy Group surveyed 1,414 American Jews nationwide about their experiences of the High Holidays and the ways that those experiences compared to previous years. The research explored not only what people did in 2020, but also compared it to what they had been doing before and explored what they might do in the future. The results provide important insights that have meaningful design implications not only for the upcoming High Holidays, but also for engagement efforts much more broadly. A major insight is the difference in behavior and attitudes between “Regular High Holy Day Observers” (those who typically observe both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) and “Infrequent High Holy Day Observers” (those who participate sporadically or only in one of the holidays). Remarkably, approximately half of the Infrequent Observers participated in High Holy Days during the pandemic, when it would have been very easy to opt out (see slide 15). Their robust participation leads us to explore both their motivations for participating and how their participation this year may impact their future decisions and behavior as well. The motivations of Regular and Infrequent Observers were distinct. While Regular Observers largely report that they were trying to get as close as possible to normal, Infrequent Observers emphasized that they engaged because it was “easy and straightforward” (new modalities, lower barriers to entry [real and perceived, such as social anxiety, complexity of bringing non-Jewish partner, lack of Jewish confidence, managing young kids, etc.]), and because of social motivators, such as recommendations from friends/family, and wanting to “connect with other people like me” (see slide 19). Infrequent Observers responded to a wider and more diverse marketplace of choices during this year, which is an important lesson for future design. In addition to the variety of options, this group now feels more permission to “do Jewish” differently than they may have assumed before. In addition, Infrequent Observers say that their positive experiences have made them interested in further participation, motivated to share those opportunities with their own friends and family, curious to try new Jewish activities, and try (or consider) new ways to observe the Jewish holidays in the future (see slides 24 and 27). These insights into the behaviors of Infrequent Observers can help create a positive and expanding feedback loop that should pique the interest of those who design such Jewish experiences and seek to engage these populations. Finally, over 50% of respondents reported that the experience of the pandemic has made them think differently about what being Jewish means, with parents with children under 18 and Infrequent Observers who did participate this year markedly higher than this average. The controlled experiment of High Holidays during the pandemic was a unique opportunity to conduct this research that illuminated themes which are useful to consider beyond the pandemic.
  • Chabad of Newbury Park Pre-Shabbat L'Chaim on Zoom

    An email from Chabad-Lubavitch of Newbury Park to get together via Zoom before Shabbat.
  • Passover 2020 newsletter from Chabad of Newbury Park

    Passover 2020 newsletter from Chabad of Newbury Park featuring Rabbi Schneur Schneerson visiting Dr. Reuben Goodkin, who was 101-years-old in 2020.
  • Travel to Nowhere: 2020 in Long Beach, California

    Our trip to every corner of our apartment in 2020. The song is called "Tira a campà" (Neapolitan dialect for "Tirare a campare") by Enzo Jannacci.
  • JQY 2020 in Review

    Please see attached for a complete guide to all the virtual work we did in 2020 for queer Jewish youth – specifically with a focus on those from Orthodox homes.
  • Makeshift Erev Pesach Siyum

    A photograph of my 2-month old son on my lap during a virtual Siyum on erev Pesach
  • Struggle Seder

    We didn't have any fresh vegetables for chazeret so we used dried oregano! Karpas was cilantro. We made haroset from fruits we already had, such as pineapples and cranberries -- not very good! At least we had an unopened box of Osem brand matzah in the pantry left over from Passover 2019 (doesn't sound kosher, I know). My husband is Yemenite and at the very least we had delicious food in the form of Yemenite soup and kitniyot (Mexican beans and corn).
  • Aftermath of the Chametz Struggle

    On the afternoon of Nissan 14, 5780 or April 8, 2020, a rabbi contracted through Chabad.org sold the rights to our chametz to a gentile for the duration of the Passover holiday. The chametz was still physically present in our home and the temptation proved too great for my husband, who was eating the gentile's cake within hours of the transaction.
  • Chametz Struggle

    On the afternoon of Nissan 14, 5780 or April 8, 2020, a rabbi contracted through Chabad.org sold the rights to our chametz to a gentile for the duration of the Passover holiday. The chametz was still physically present in our home and the temptation proved too great for my husband, who was eating the gentile's cake within hours of the transaction.
  • Caught in the Act

    On the afternoon of Nissan 14, 5780 or April 8, 2020, a rabbi contracted through Chabad.org sold the rights to our chametz to a gentile for the duration of the Passover holiday. The chametz was still physically present in our home and the temptation proved too great for my husband, who was eating the gentile's cake within hours of the transaction.
  • Recruitment, Retention, Development, Social Emotional, Governance & Ed Tech Webinars that Supported Jewish Day Schools

    Webinar recordings from Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools tell the story of how schools have had to pivot during the COVID pandemic. Recordings include How to help students thrive in uncertain times Retaining students in changing times Edtech tools for Judaics classrooms Space: your most valuable asset School schedules: covid-19 friendly options Making fundraising work: a guide for small school development in a pandemic Going virtual with SAR high school's director of technology
  • 100+ COVID Related Resources to Support Jewish Day Schools &Yeshivas

    The Prizmah Knowledge Center hosted over 120 COVID related resource pages directly developed to support schools through the COVID pandemic. This includes videos research social emotional resources recruitment and retention resources development resources HaYidion articles And more
  • Preparations for Success During Covid- Prizmah Podcast, Research Encounters

    Professor Jack Wertheimer of the Jewish Theological Seminary talks with Cheryl Maayan, head of the Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School in St. Louis, and Dr. Steven Lorch, head of Kadimah Day School in Los Angeles, about how Jewish day schools have fared during the pandemic. Wertheimer proposes trends that have set up many day schools for success in the face of the overwhelming challenges that schools and families have experienced.
  • JFNA Scenario Planning: The Future of Jewish Day Schools

    In January 2021, Prizmah concluded a JFNA Scenario Planning project for Jewish day schools and yeshivas. This project was developed by JFNA and funded through the generosity of the Mandel Foundation. Over the course of two months, using the framework developed by JFNA, we imagined multiple scenarios that Jewish day schools and yeshivas might face and charted a path through the current Covid-19 crisis and into the post-pandemic time horizon. The scenarios envisioned two factors shaping our future scenarios: To what extent will our ability to gather (social, workplace and civic) be possible? and, What level of financial stability will we have? This slide deck presents the findings from the group.
  • HaYidion: The Prizmah Journal- Issue on Remodeling during COVID

    This issue examines how schools are adapting to the challenging circumstances of conducting business during the Covid-19 pandemic. Articles explore ways that school leaders are managing to organize stakeholders in a crisis; that schools are collaborating with each other and internally as a community to strengthen all systems; that educators are reinventing Jewish education through these exigencies by using online tools and shifting their pedagogies. Authors seek to find changes in the present that may have lasting value for a future, post-Covid reality.
  • Essay, "One Year and Counting" by Doris H. Goldstein

    Essay written by Doris H. Goldstein of Atlanta, Georgia. A copy is housed in her papers in the Ida Pearle and Joseph Cuba Archives for Southern Jewish History at the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum in Atlanta, Georgia (Mss 275, Martin and Doris Goldstein Papers, Box 1, File 5).
  • Taking the Pulse of Jewish Day Schools & Yeshivas, Prizmah Pulse Surveys

    Pulse survey results that provide a profile of Jewish day school development and enrollment, and explore the effects of COVID on day school finances, financial aid and more.
  • MJRC Guidance Regarding COVID-19 Vaccination

    The following guidance was prepared by the Faith and Halakhic Standards Committee of the Messianic Jewish Rabbinical Council. The global coronavirus pandemic has left a tragic (and still-rising) death toll and has radically disrupted our communal way of life. Meanwhile, the worldwide scientific endeavor to find solutions for COVID-19 immunity has yielded numerous vaccines in various stages of clinical trial, two of which have been proven (through rigorous testing and approval processes) to be both safe and effective​.​ According to public health experts, ending the pandemic soonest and most safely requires that a substantial proportion of the population be vaccinated. What does the Torah and our tradition ​teach regarding the obligation to be vaccinated against a virus spreading pandemically?
  • Sunday morning service

    Bruce Beeber with granddaughter, Yuval, attending Sunday morning services via Zoom with Ahavath Achim Congregation in Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Essay, "The Fireplace" by Doris Goldstein

    Essay written by Doris H. Goldstein of Atlanta, Georgia. A copy is housed in her papers in the Ida Pearle and Joseph Cuba Archives for Southern Jewish History at the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum in Atlanta, Georgia (Mss 275, Martin and Doris Goldstein Papers, Box 1, File 5).
  • Daily Congress Prayer, House, February 26, 2021, Chaplain Kibben: COVID relief bill & Purim miracle

    This video, contributed by Howard Mortman (Communications Director at CSPAN), shows House chaplain Kibben opening Congress with a prayer whose message combines the $1.9T COVID relief bill and the Purim miracle
  • Rabbi Romi Cohn: His Prayer in Congress and Remarks After His Passing

    These videos, contributed by Howard Mortman (Communications Director at CSPAN), center around Rabbi Romi Cohn. As Mortman notes in his book (see Source), Cohn was a Holocaust survivor and member of the Jewish underground in his native Czechoslovakia. He delivered the House prayer on January 29, 2020-- 75 years after the liberation of Auschwitz. Unfortunately, Cohn died from COVID-19 two months after delivering his house prayer. He is remembered in the House daily prayer on March 27, 2020.
  • Interfaith Chavurah Celebrates Hanukkah

    An interfaith Chavurah made up of members of Congregation Beth Or in Maple Glen, Pennsylvania celebrates the fourth night of Hanukkah together over Zoom. A pandemic didn't stop this Chavurah's 20+ year tradition!
  • High Holiday Sermon, "God Has Got Us Covered"

    Brief High Holiday [Rosh HaShanah, 5781] sermon delivered in 4 services, 2 in 2 different indoor rooms in the synagogue and 2 in 2 different outdoor tents in congregants' backyards, for the Young Israel of Jamaica Estates, Queens, New York.
  • Hanukkah Lighting on Boathouse Row

    The Mayor's Office of Public Engagement hosted their Hanukkah lighting on Zoom and shared it via Facebook Live.