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Home  »  2022 Bikur Cholim Conference

Bikur Cholim in 2022:  Renewal, Revival, Resilience



Sponsored by Neshama: Association of Jewish Chaplains, Kavod v’Nichum,
Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies, and The Jewish Board

The challenges of Bikur Cholim, attending to the sick, have become more complex and demanding in the second year of Covid. How are we responding to these challenges and what tools are we developing to deal with the long term effects of isolation, separation, and sickness? How are our missions evolving and what strategies are there to dealing with the new demands we face? And how are we serving non-traditional communities? And how do we strengthen ourselves as caregivers?

 Conference Program, Online, on Alternate Mondays   January 10 – April 25,  2022
7:00pm-8:30pm EST4:00pm-5:30pm PST

 Discussion Group, Online, on Alternate Mondays   January 17 – April 11,  2022
7:00pm-8:30pm EST4:00pm-5:30pm PST

For volunteers, social workers, chaplains and professionals who work
in the field of bikur cholim (visiting the sick) and the general public

$72 for the full conference program for eight sessions;  $36 for three sessions;  $18 for single session
— scholarships widely available —


Program Questions: Contact David Balto at david.balto@dcantitrustlaw.com or 202-577-5424
Sponsorship and Registration Questions: Contact Kavod v’Nichum at info@jewish-funerals.org

Find out more about bikur cholim, what it is and why it’s important – please click here.



Click to view this bikur cholim training manual.



Visiting the Sick
Prague ca 1772, Oil on Canvas

Conference Program

Click here to view the recording of the special session for Prayer and Healing for Ukraine on March 28th.



Session Overview

1 January 10


Rabbi Richard Address, Rabbi Fred Klein, Linda Foster, Audrey Siegel 
Opening session: The Current Status of Bikur Cholim

2 January 24


Chaplain Bruce Feldstein
Responding to the New Challenges: Spiritual Care as an Architecture in Time: Compassionate Presence and Sacred Encounter

3 February 7


 Dr. Elaine Rotenberg
Compassion Fatigue and Caring for the Caregiver

February 14


Denise S. Dunager
Special Support Group Breakout Session: Building Resilience to Strengthen Self Care

4 February 21


Shelley Christensen
At Intersection of Spirituality and Disability — How to Support Individuals and Families

5 February 28


Lisa Ney, Rabbi Tsurah August, Or Ben Ari 
Integrating Spiritual Practices into Programming with People with Disabilities

6 March 7


Rabbi Janet Madden
Grieving Differently: Encountering Deferred and Disenfranchised Grief in these Pandemic Times

7 March 21


Rabbi Simkha Weintraub
Adapting to the New Challenges: Attending to Mental Health in the Community

8 April 4


Reb Simcha Raphael, Rabbi Geela Rayzel Raphael
Praying with the Dying and Their Families: Spiritual and Practical Dimensions

9 April 25


Rabbi Judith Beiner
Kavanot: Prayers, Poetry and Meditations for the Caregiver

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Conference Session Descriptions

January 10, 2022
Opening session: The Current Status of Bikur Cholim with Rabbi Richard Address, Rabbi Fred Klein, Linda Foster, Audrey Siegel

Handouts from this session: Bikur Cholim and Displacement, Curriculum Overview

The continuing pandemic has increased the challenges we face in delivering care to those in need, especially the vulnerable and ill.  Increased illness, overtaxed caregivers, and the chronic nature of the pandemic are testing our resources and capabilities.  This panel will discuss how we as caregivers face these challenges and are finding new ways to cultivate resilience and renew our ability to face these challenges.  Some of the issues to be addressed are:

    • new needs arising under the pandemic
    • dealing with new forms of loss and isolation
    • challenges for caregiving including compassion fatigue
    • delivering service without physical presence
    • keeping community service efforts strong

January 24, 2022
Spiritual Care as an Architecture in Time: Compassionate Presence and Sacred Encounter with Chaplain Bruce Feldstein

Continuing disruption and uncertainty calls for new design. Spiritual care providers at all levels of experience are being called to provide bikur cholim in new circumstances. When the situations are varied, it is helpful to have a core set of understandings and skills that is widely applicable. In this interactive workshop, I present a basic approach to spiritual care as an “architecture in time,” one that fosters compassionate presence and sacred encounter. In this approach I draw from Jewish tradition, Clinical Pastoral Education, medicine, ethics and our common humanity.  We will highlight the five essential phases and core elements of this architecture, and explore its applicability to caring for Jews and non-Jews of all backgrounds and ages, whether in-person or remote visits at home, hospitals and other settings. We will also take the opportunity to share our successes and challenges and learn from one another.

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February 7, 2022
Compassion Fatigue and Caring for the Caregiver with Dr. Elaine Rotenberg

Caregiving has always been one of the most challenging roles in our society, even before COVID!  This workshop will explore the stress response, the cost of stress and its risks to the caregivers, and the dangerous path to compassion fatigue and burnout.  The enormous, unprecedented challenges for caregivers during the past 20 months have made it more important than ever to focus on self-care, mindfulness, mental health, and our own resilience.  How do we respond to these enormous challenges?  How can we continue to be compassionate caregivers and care for ourselves?  This workshop will provide concrete tips for self-care, resiliency, and offer a basic model for coping during challenging times.

February 14, 2022
Special Support Group Breakout Session: Building Resilience to Strengthen Self Care with Denise S. Dunager

In this break out group we will address many of the concepts addressed by Rabbi Edythe Held Mencher, and Dr. Elaine Rotenberg, in their presentation on “Compassion Fatigue and Caring for the Caregiver” and provide practical tools to build resilience.    Ms. Dunager  uses self-reflection, meditation, guided imagery, and many other tools to cultivate mindfulness and build sources of spiritual strength.  In our break out group Denise will  focus on visualization, where we will take a journey together and then share our destinations. These journeys  will help illuminate our spiritual presence, needs and help build our resilience.

February 21, 2022
At Intersection of Spirituality and Disability — How to Support Individuals and Families with Shelley Christensen

February is Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month (JDAIM). JDAIM founder and award-winning expert on inclusion and belonging in Jewish life taps into ways to understand disability and mental health and the intersection with spirituality, Torah, and support for individuals and those who love them. Shelly will also share her experiences, insights and knowledge of parenting an individual with a disability or mental health condition, focusing on four specific needs that parents have as they navigate the journey. Over 20% of the population live with a disability or mental health diagnosis and recent data indicate that one in 44 children are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, making the need for support greater than ever.

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February 28, 2022
B’ZELEM ELOHIM – IN GOD’S IMAGE: Integrating Spiritual Practices into Programming with People with Disabilities with Lisa Ney, Rabbi Tsurah August, Or Ben Ari

Click here to download the PowerPoint from the session
This interactive workshop will demonstrate how JFCS of Greater Philadelphia’s programs for people with disabilities integrate the premise that all humans are “B’tzelim Elohim”. We will show how we integrate spiritual practice, mindfulness, and Jewish values into our offerings for participants. We will also discuss best practices and the concepts of: neurodivergence as a natural part of the human experience, disabling ableism, and how we create belonging.

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March 7, 2022
Grieving Differently: Encountering Deferred and Disenfranchised Grief in these Pandemic Times with Rabbi Janet Madden

This session will focus on the realities of grieving in a time when grieving has been curtailed, redirected and postponed. We will look at some historical Jewish responses, consider the high cost of widespread grief and the accommodations that we have been forced to make. We will consider the additional grief that has resulted from the overwhelming loss of life and the loss and adaptations of traditional rituals, making space in breakout rooms to meet more intimately to consider what we have lost and what no longer serves us. Finally, we will join together in a creative ritual of revisiting and release.

March 21, 2022
Adapting to the New Challenges: Attending to Mental Health in the Community with Rabbi Simkha Weintraub

The understanding of mental health has surely shifted since the days of our classical sources on Bikur Cholim, and yet it has taken time for us to integrate those facing challenges in mental health into our visiting and caring programs.  Beyond that reality, the pandemic has presented unprecedented and complex challenges in mental health.  How do we respond to the increase in depression, anxiety, substance abuse, suicide?   What tools are there to promote an active and open discussion of these issues in our communities?  What approaches might we consider in reaching out and offering spiritual care and support? And how do we bolster our own mental health and resilience as caregivers?

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April 4, 2022
Praying with the Dying and Their Families: Spiritual and Practical Dimensions with Reb Simcha Raphael, Rabbi Geela Rayzel Raphael

What does it mean to offer prayers on behalf of one who is dying? When reciting Psalms or the Mi Sheberach prayer at the bedside of a person whose life force is waning because of a serious illness, or one who may already have been given a terminal diagnosis, how do we prepare ourselves spiritually? And what are specific prayers to have in our “toolkit”? In this presentation we shall look at the spiritual functions of bedside prayer, and learn prayers and chants which we can utilize to be a source of comfort for the patients and families we encounter in the holy work of bikur cholim.

April 25, 2022
Kavanot: Prayers, Poetry and Meditations for the Caregiver with Rabbi Judith Beiner

Heneni, ani mekabelet alai, et mitzvat ha-borei, v’ahavta l’re-a-cha kamocha’

Here I am, ready to take upon myself the sacred charge of my Creator: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Visiting with those who are ailing, failing or compromised can give rise to painful or unsettling emotions. We have each experienced those difficult moments, either before or after visiting when we might need some chizuk (strength) or solace.  In this workshop, we’ll look at a variety of prayers, poetry and meditations that we can have at the ready when we need to prepare or process.

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Speaker Biographies

Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min.
Rabbi Richard F. Address is Founder and Director of Jewish Sacred Aging® the web site www.jewishsacredaging.com and the host of the weekly Jewish Sacred Aging® pod cast Seekers of Meaning.   Prior to leaving the URJ he served as Specialist for Caring Community and Family Concerns. In this capacity he consulted and advised synagogues of the Reform movement in creating congregations that are “caring communities” that sought to have as their foundation a “theology of sacred relationships.” Rabbi Address’s work is involved in several major programmatic areas. They include such issues as: the changing faces of the contemporary Jewish family;  challenges to our congregations relating to older adults and the aging of the baby boom generation, their spiritual aging and the challenges of intergenerational care-giving; concerns over self-destructive behaviors, resiliency and the pressures on our youth; issues of inclusiveness and openness for people with disabilities and the impact of emerging medical technology on the choices that confront today’s Reform Jews.

Or Ben Ari 
Or Ben Ari is the Program Manager of Services and Programs for Persons Living with Disabilities of Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Philadelphia.  He received his MSW from Temple University in 2015. Prior to his MSW, he received his Bachelor of Education with a concentration in History and Bible Studies from the Kibbutzim Seminar Teacher’s College in Tel Aviv and lived and worked in Israel in various educational ventures.  He creates, facilitates, and oversees programs as well as manages care management services for persons with disabilities at the Barbara and Harvey Brodsky Enrichment Center. He received the Fran and Elliott Kane Excellence Award in 2018.

Rabbi Tsurah August
Rabbi August is the staff chaplain for Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Philadelphia, serving individuals and families in hospice, acute care, long- term care health facilities and senior residences. She provides on-line bereavement and spiritual support for groups and individuals.  She is an experienced workshop leader and presenter who combines her background in the arts, chaplaincy and counseling to create interactive workshops in a variety of areas.  She has presented at local, national and international conferences and currently creates videos and web programming.  Rabbi August received her rabbinic ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion and from Aleph, Alliance for Jewish Renewal.  She received her Clinical Pastoral Education(CPE) from the HealthCare Chaplaincy’s Jewish Chaplaincy program. She is a member of the Board of Rabbis of Philadelphia and the National Association of Jewish Chaplains: Neshama.

Rabbi Judith R. Beiner
Rabbi Judith Beiner currently serves as the Community Chaplain at Jewish Family and Career Service of Atlanta, GA. Ordained at the Hebrew Union College in 1993 she has loved being a pastor and teacher for 25 years. Her rabbinate has taken her across the country, serving congregations in Colorado, Kansas and Georgia. She has taught in both formal and informal educational settings for both youth and adults. As a chaplain, Rabbi Beiner provides those encountering illness or crisis support and comfort. She is particularly gratified by the trust placed in her by congregants, patients, colleagues, volunteers and students. In every community where she has lived, Rabbi Beiner has been an active member of the local Rabbinic Association, and a supporter and participant in activities of the Jewish community.

Shelly Christensen
Shelly Christensen, MA FAAIDD, believes that people with neurodiversity, and those who love them, want what anyone else wants—to belong, to contribute, and to be a valued member of their chosen faith community. Her passion for and calling to this work stem from her personal struggles and joys as a person living with a disability, and as the parent of an autistic child. She is a pioneer and innovator in the Jewish and interfaith disability inclusion movement as a popular keynote speaker, consultant, author, and trainer. As founder and CEO of Inclusion Innovations, she works with Jewish and interfaith organizations and communities to develop strategies and practices to foster diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. Shelly has contributed to numerous national Jewish and interfaith organizations diversity and inclusion initiatives and is the co-founder of Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month (JDAIM), Shelly holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Minnesota in Journalism and a Master of Arts degree from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota in Developmental Disabilities, is a Fellow of the American Association Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (FAAIDD) and is the 2021 recipient of the prestigious Reimagining Spirituality Award from the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities,  which recognizes her innovative and exemplary contributions to the field of faith community inclusion. Shelly is a Core Council member of the Institute on Theology and Disability and 2019 opening plenary speaker. She is the co-host of Everyone’s Welcome-A Fresh Conversation About Disability.

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Denise S. Dunager 
Denise S. Dunager M.S. Ed. has worked for over forty years with special needs children and their families. She has also worked with migrants and the homeless population in Miami, Florida. She was trained by Dr. James Gordon M.D., founder of the Center for Mind Body Medicine. During the pandemic, Denise has offered Mind Body skills groups, through zoom, both in the States and in Israel. She also gives these classes in person in an assisted living facility. These groups are grounded in self-reflection. They include meditation, guided imagery, autogenic training, breath work, movement, drawing, cultivating mindfulness, and the trauma healing diet. Denise can be reached at swissmsfl@aol.com and will offer the series to everyone interested, as part of her Mitzvah Project with Miami Jewish Federation.

Bruce Feldstein, MD
Chaplain Bruce Feldstein, MD, BCC is a chaplain, physician, and educator. He is the founder and director of JFCS’ Jewish Chaplaincy Services serving Stanford Medicine,  and Adjunct Clinical Professor at Stanford University School of Medicine. He is recognized as a Board Certified Chaplain by Neshama: Association of Jewish Chaplains, where he is a past president. Bruce was born in Detroit, Michigan, and graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School. After 19 years specializing in emergency medicine, an injury led him to discover his life’s work: as a chaplain. Bruce was visiting scholar at the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics, then completed his chaplaincy training in 2000 in Stanford’s Clinical Pastoral Education program. At Stanford School of Medicine and hospitals, Bruce teaches an innovative curriculum on spirituality and well-being. He is a recipient of the John Templeton Spirituality and Medicine Curricular Award, and the first recipient of the Isaac Stein Award for Compassionate Care presented by the Stanford Health Care Board of Directors. He has taught and written widely on spiritual care, healing, and designing our well-being.

Linda Foster
Linda P. Foster joined Jewish Family Service of Colorado (JFS) as its president & CEO in November 2018. Applying her vision, passion, and experience she is leading JFS through program optimization and new service opportunities throughout Colorado. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Linda has guided JFS in quickly adapting and transforming its programs and services to best meet the changing needs of the community. She relocated to Denver from the Chicago area, where she served as CEO and head of school at Solomon Schechter Day School for nine years and the school’s executive director for four and a half years prior to that. She has deep Colorado connections and owns a home in Steamboat.  Linda has been a leader of both nonprofit and for-profit organizations and business units in a variety of industries, ensuring mission fulfillment and sound financial viability. She has extensive organizational, operational, and management experience, and has successfully led capital campaigns, endowment growth, and donor cultivation and stewardship efforts. Linda earned a BA degree from Wellesley College and has participated in the Kellogg School of Management Center for Non- Profit Management at Northwestern University.

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Rabbi Frederick L. Klein, MPhil, B.C.C.
Rabbi Frederick ‘Fred’ Klein, a Board-Certified chaplain, is Director of Mishkan Miami: The Jewish Connection for Spiritual Support, a program of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation and serves as Executive Vice President of the Rabbinical Association of Greater Miami.  In this capacity he overseas Jewish pastoral care support for Miami’s Jewish Community, trains volunteers in friendly visiting and bikur cholim, consults with area synagogues in creating caring community, and organizes conferences on spirituality, illness and aging.  As director of the interdenominational Rabbinical Association of Greater Miami, he provides local spiritual leadership with a voice in communal affairs.  Rabbi Klein also is engaged in teaching Torah to Jews of all backgrounds. He serves as the in-house rabbi for the Jewish Federation of Miami.  Rabbi Klein is Miami native and graduated magna cum laude from Brown University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in religious studies. While in rabbinical school at Yeshiva University, he received an MA in Bible at Revel, and later earned an MPhil in Jewish history from Columbia University.  During rabbinical school, Rabbi Klein was awarded the Wexner Graduate Fellowship, and has received numerous awards for his work with aging populations and community work.

Rabbi Janet Madden
Rabbi Janet Madden, PhD, is the Rabbi -Chaplain of Providence Saint John’s Medical Center and the Rabbi of Fountainview at Gonda Westside, a Continuing Care Retirement Community of the Los Angeles Jewish Home. Ordained by the Academy for Jewish Religion-CA, she is certified in Palliative Care and Gerontology. She is a Jewish Spiritual Director, a four-time National Endowment for the Humanities scholar, ritualist and poet, she leads weekly Torah Study at the Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue. She serves on the Funeral Practices Committee of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, is a Governor of the Sandra Caplan Community Bet Din, teaches for the Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning at Stephen Wise Temple in Los Angles and is adjunct faculty of the Gamliel Institute.

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Lisa Ney
Lisa Ney is the Director of Services and Programs for Persons Living with Disabilities. She received a double master’s in clinical social work from the University of Southern California, and Jewish Communal Service, from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles in 1983. She then made aliyah, living in Israel for 20 years. She has 39 years of clinical and programming experience both in Israel and the United States, working with children, families, individuals, and groups. With Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Philadelphia for fourteen years, Lisa works in program development and oversight, is active with many community coalitions and committees, and received the Community Builder Award from TriState JPro Professionals of Excellence in 2013.

Reb Simcha Raphael
Reb Simcha Raphael, Ph.D. is Founding Director of the DA’AT Institute for Death Awareness, Advocacy and Training. Ordained as a Rabbinic Pastor by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, he works as a psychotherapist and spiritual director in the Philadelphia area. He is a Fellow of the Rabbis Without Borders Network, and  author of numerous publications including the groundbreaking Jewish Views of the Afterlife, and May the Angels Carry You – Jewish Prayers and Meditations for the Deathbed.  His website is www.daatinstitute.net.


Rabbi Geela Rayzel Raphael
Rabbi Geela Rayzel Raphael is an “unorthodox” visionary rabbi who has served four congregations, and worked as a rabbi-chaplain at various nursing homes in the Philadelphia area. She is an  award winning singer/songwriter/liturgist, with six recordings including Friday Night RevivedBible Babe’s a Beltin’ and May the Angels Carry You – Jewish Songs of Comfort for Death, Burial and Mourning.  Additionally, she is author of two children’s books, Angels for Dreamtime and New Moon. She resides in the Philadelphia area where she performs weddings; paints sacred prayer shawls; offers Shechinah Oracle readings; teaches Jewish spirituality and offers musical Shabbat services and concerts. Currently she serves as spiritual leader of Darkaynu, an independent congregation in Warrington, PA.  For more information see www.Shechinah.com.

Dr. Elaine Rotenberg
Elaine Rotenberg, PhD, has been the Clinical Director of the Alpert Jewish Family Service and the Levine Jewish Residential & Family Service for nearly 30 years.  She is a licensed clinical psychologist, a member of the American Psychological Association, and the Florida Psychological Association, and serves on the steering committee of the Action Alliance for Mental Health in Palm Beach County.  Dr. Rotenberg received her BA degree in psychology and education from Brandeis University and then went on to receive both her Masters and Doctoral degrees in psychology from the University of Denver.  Dr. Rotenberg completed her predoctoral fellowship in the psychiatry department of Yale University.  Dr. Rotenberg provides clinical oversight and establishes standards of best practice for the more than two dozen programs of Alpert JFS and LJRFS.  Her responsibilities include direct oversight of all of the behavioral health services of the organization, including counseling, psychiatry and residential services.  Dr. Rotenberg spearheaded the creation of a coalition to introduce the international evidence-based Mental Health First Aid program throughout Palm Beach County.  Dr. Rotenberg coordinates the ongoing Performance Quality Improvement program of Alpert JFS.  On a national level, Dr. Rotenberg is an active participant with the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies.  She serves on their Best Practices task force, and is the Chair of the Clinical Services Affinity Group.  Dr. Rotenberg is a much request speaker, presenting locally, nationally, and internationally on a range of topics.  She works hard to promote outreach and interagency collaborative initiatives whenever opportunities arise.

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Audrey Berman Siegel
Bikur Cholim of Greater Washington/ BCGW is an independent non profit organization located in the Greater Washington DC area,  dedicated to supporting the sick, their loved ones, caregivers and older adults in the Jewish community. Audrey joined the BCGW team in 2000, serving as Vice President, Volunteer Coordinator and most recently as Executive Director.  Under her leadership, BCGW has grown from a small grass roots operation to a well-established organization with three employees, over four hundred committed volunteers and hundreds of clients.  In addition to working for BCGW, Audrey has taught Jewish and world history and has incorporated skills developed during her teaching days to her current work.  She is a great believer in the adage, “if you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life,” and feels privileged to be a part of the BCGW community.

Rabbi Simkha Weintraub 
Rabbi Simkha Y. Weintraub, LCSW, recently retired from his position as Rabbinic Director of the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services in New York City.  For more than 25 years, through the National Center of Jewish Healing and the New York Jewish Healing Center, he wrote and taught about the use of Jewish spiritual resources in confronting illness, loss, and trauma. With treasured colleagues in the Jewish Healing world, he developed approaches to Jewish spiritual counseling and support groups, and a broad range of workshops and materials that integrate Jewish traditional resources with mental health perspectives.  He has trained thousands of social workers, rabbis, chaplains, doctors, nurses, and others around the U.S., Canada, and Israel, and took part in numerous Jewish and interfaith conferences on subjects ranging from The Legacy of 9/11, Domestic Violence, Depression, Suicide, Forgiveness, Shame, Family Relationships, and more.  For nearly 15 years, he was an Adjunct Lecturer in Pastoral Skills at JTS, teaching courses in Loss and Bereavement, Jewish Spiritual Counseling, and Behavioral Health.  Among his many writings are Healing of Soul, Healing of Body (Jewish Lights, 1994) and Guide Me Along the Way: A Jewish Spiritual Companion for Surgery (NCJH/Jewish Board, 2001), as well as many essays, articles, prayers, and rituals.

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