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Daily distraction: Experience the world from your couch, explore YIVO and dance

Welcome to your daily distraction, our recommendations for ways to stay engaged and entertained while we socially distance ourselves to combat the novel coronavirus outbreak. You can find our past recommendations here; many of the opportunities we’ve highlighted are ongoing.

It’s Friday, the end of our first week of social distancing. Things can look bleak right now, before we have a sense of how much longer we’ll need to stay secluded. But one week down is a major step in the right direction, and ensuring we’re ready for the next one means making a serious investment in self care. Below, find three ways to take a break today.

1) Travel the world from your couch

Welcome to one of my favorite journalistic projects of all time: Paul Salopek’s “Out of Eden Walk.” Since 2013, Salopek, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, has been walking the path that humans used to migrate from our origins in Africa through the rest of the world. After five years of walking, he’s now in Myanmar. His dispatches from his journey, for which he’s been joined by a local guide in each country, so far total around 400,000 words — more than enough to give you relief from the monotony of your house. The accompanying Instagram feed is also worth a serious look; it’s an essential reminder, in isolated times, of how connected we really all are.


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2) Start an online course with YIVO

Always been interested in Yiddish theater? How about the culture and history of Jewish food? The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research has got you covered; this week, they’ve made all of their online courses free. We’re particularly tempted by “Folksong, Demons, and the Evil Eye: Folklore of Ashkenaz” — don’t ask why, but the idea of being engaged with demons and dybbuks sounds oddly, well, comforting.

3) Dance!

We talk about dancing a lot in this feature. In terms of indoor exercise, it’s the most interesting option available, an outlet for the mind and body alike. Here’s a new venue for pursuing your dance goals while socially distancing: Dancing Alone Together, which compiles a daily roster of free dance classes. Right now, there’s a lot of ballet on the schedule, alongside offerings like traditional Senegalese, tap and hip-hop. As a big plus, there are options for kids, too.

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