RE at Home - Sabbath

I had an idea early this morning to have a technology sabbath from sundown on Friday night through sundown on Saturday. Then I remembered my Zoom social commitments. Well, at least I have the intention of avoiding my computer for a day!

On Friday nights in Jewish homes around the world, families come together to light candles, say prayers, and share a meal. For the next 25 hours, the sabbath or Shabbat, is a time to rest. It is a special time set aside from the rest of the week to not work. I have relatives who don’t drive their cars or even turn the lights on and off during this time. They walk to synagogue for worship and have special timers on their lamps. The sabbath is intentional time spent together in presence and stillness. 

In some ways, this time of pandemic feels like a prolonged sabbath. Everything has come to rest. It can feel like a quiet, relaxing break. And, it can also feel stressful, anxiety-provoking and relentless. For many families, there isn’t a clear distinction between work, homeschool, and rest. 

Carving out time for sabbath -- intentional rest, both together as a family and alone, can feel really restorative. There are ideas and resources below for how to do this, including creating an altar, making a chalice, and practicing mindfulness together. Just like getting dressed in the morning is pretty critical at this time, having intentional time to rest and to be together is also vital. 

Let me know how your family is finding time for sabbath, ritual, covenant, and self care. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me to talk and connect: Jessica Harwood, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 584-1390 x 203.

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Monday through Thursday at 4 pm: Story Time with Jessica

Come together with other kids and families to check in and connect. Jessica will share a story and invite reflection on the themes and ideas. Here is the link to join:

Daily Challenges
Daily challenges allow you and your family to connect with each other and the 7 Principles and the 6 Sources of UUism. They are posted on our RE Facebook page.

Sunday RE
We are hoping that families will tune into our online Sunday services. We are working on incorporating various elements to engage the whole family. For our 4th through 8th grade class, we will offer a class and check in from 11:15-12:15 every Sunday after the service. The Zoom link for that class will be sent by email. The COA class will continue online every other Sunday. 

Parent and caregiver groups
Parents and caregivers deserve a break right now! We invite you to come together for some reflection, sharing, mutual support, and grounding. Join us on Sundays, 11:30 am - 12:15 pm -

Jessica’s Office Hours
Join me on Wednesdays from 4:30-6:30 pm to check in, say hi, and connect:

Young Adult Group

by Annie Doran

The Young Adult Group held a remote check-in early on in this lock-down period. We are checking in again with all young folks to see how everyone is doing and what kind of support is needed. Although the young USNF friends and members are spread from California to Maine, we are trying to weave together in solidarity as we move through our challenges and stay open to the light of transformation.

If you are between the ages of 18 and 40 and want to be in touch with other young USNF folks, please get in touch with Annie (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Youth Group

by Annie Doran

Youth Group continues to have super sweet and cozy online hangs twice weekly. We even have a brave new member as of a few weeks ago! Although it's hard not to meet in person, it's quite wonderful to get a glimpse of everyone's home life, special objects in their rooms-- we even had a one person fashion show! 

Youth have decided to continue planning and preparing for their Downtown Composting pilot project, imagining a ribbon cutting ceremony and celebration in the Fall. We are also having fun and getting creative about how to deliver our Worship Service on June 14. 

When the world feels chaotic, it's best to reconnect with our roots. And so, there will be a Youth Group reunion (via Zoom) soon! If you are a former youth and want to participate, please reach out to Annie (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) for more info. 

Welcome to Emma Gaudreau, Our New Early Childhood Teacher!

EmmaHi everyone!  I’m very much looking forward to becoming part of your UU community here in Northampton as your Early Childhood Educator!  Working with young children is a strong passion of mine and I feel joy knowing I will be getting the opportunity to get to know the children and families of your congregation. I grew up in Wilmington MA, just north of Boston, and fell in love with Western MA when I attended Westfield State to study education. Currently, I live in Chicopee and am teaching preschool in Westfield.  I want to share a little bit about my journey growing up a Unitarian Universalist.  When I was young, my Mom wanted my brother and I to be involved in a nourishing and welcoming community that would provide us with a sense of family, growth and love.  She found the Unitarian Universalist Church of Reading MA and that is where we stayed for over 11 years.  My fondest childhood memories are from that church.  From the plays and performances that my youth group would put on during service, singing at the Christmas Eve service by candle light, going through the O.W.L program, and getting the chance to read at the altar with my peers about love, death and life.  When I am not teaching I love to hike (one of the reasons I fell in love with Western MA, all the mountains!), play with my adorable cat, visit the ocean and cook!  Despite our current crisis I feel hopeful that soon enough I will be able to meet you all. 

Sending peace, 

Emma Gaudreau