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Seven ways to celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month in quarantine

Here at the Forward, pretty much every month is Jewish American Heritage Month. We don’t need a (basically unfunded) government initiative to bring you a redux of Jewish coughing etiquette from 1918, erotic Yiddish poetry, and hot takes on which celebrities may or may not be converting to Judaism.

But maybe your daily routine doesn’t involve getting up and brainstorming headlines that riff on the titles of Philip Roth novels. Maybe you’re bored out of your mind and need another holiday to celebrate. Whether you’re looking to celebrate your ancestry or just hammer it into your brain that we’re living in May and not the 150th day of March, here are the best ways to celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month from home.

Try a new dish

Unless you’re a hoarder, yeast shortages are probably cramping your challah style right now. So why not add a new Jewish food to your repertoire? Try out our recipe for the Persian staple kuku sabzi, take in a cooking class from YIVO, or follow along with the Forward’s Rob Eshman as he prepares quarantine Shabbat dinners for his family — a recent effort includes paella cooked over a wood fire.

Go to a virtual museum tour

With the number of collections now viewable online, night at the museum is literally every night. Take a video tour with artist commentary at New York’s Jewish Museum or explore early Jewish urban communities at the Tenement Museum. Got kids? Try some museum-approved art projects to keep them entertained.

Shop synagogues

One of the upsides of quarantine is that you can show up to synagogue without…you know…showing up for synagogue. With so many Jewish institutions streaming services, you can browse synagogues across the country or scout for a local one to join when you can once more leave your house. Streaming platform JewishLIVE has a comprehensive collection of online offerings to take you from Kabbalat Shabbat to Havdalah. Real pants not required.

Take an oral history

Given that conversation is the only thing you can share with anyone outside your quarantine bubble, there’s never been a better time to embark on an oral history. If there’s someone in your life whose story needs writing down, set up a time to interview them. Here’s a guide to get you started.

Learn a new Yiddish word

You may not be able to practice Yiddish on Duolingo (yet) but the Forward’s Rukhl Schaechter has you covered. Curious about the meaning of the Yiddish phrase “covered in vinegar and honey?” Beef up your skills in the mother tongue with our Yiddish Word of the Day series.

Watch some Jewish TV

Any Forward staffer worth their salt can connect the most seemingly goyishe shows to Judaism. “My Brilliant Friend?” Secretly super-Jewish. “Game of Thrones”? The history is there. But we’re also living in a great moment for prestige TV that’s actually, you know, about Jews. The third season of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” will allow you to imagine a world where you get dressed every day. Or check out the supremely watchable “The Plot Against America;” an almost-horror story that turns out just fine, it excavates American Jewish life without fraying quarantine-era nerves.

Take a virtual trip to Broadway

A tour of Broadway greats is also a tour of 20th-century New York yiddishkeit. As Spamalot proclaimed, “You won’t succeed on Broadway if you don’t have any Jews.” While you wait for Hamilton to drop on Disney+ in July, check out a star-studded Zoom birthday concert for Stephen Sondheim, try out a Broadway streaming service (here’s a handy guide to what’s available online, updated daily), or rewatch your favorite movie adaptations.

Irene Katz Connelly is an editorial fellow at the Forward. You can contact her at connelly@forward.com.

How to celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month

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Seven ways to celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month in quarantine

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