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  • A line of marchers pack the overpass of the Brooklyn Bridge holding signs  that read 'No Hate No Fear' and 'We Stand Together Against Hate' as part of the effort to support the No Hate No Fear Solidarity March against anti-Semitism, January 1, 2020.    (Photo by Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images/ via JTA/SUE)
    A line of marchers pack the overpass of the Brooklyn Bridge holding signs that read 'No Hate No Fear' and 'We Stand Together Against Hate' as part of the effort to support the No Hate No Fear Solidarity March against anti-Semitism, January 1, 2020. (Photo by Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images/ via JTA/SUE)
  • Hasidic Jewish men walking on streets during Coronavirus outbreak in Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, March 21, 2020. (Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images/ via JTA)
    Hasidic Jewish men walking on streets during Coronavirus outbreak in Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, March 21, 2020. (Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images/ via JTA)
  • Alexa Rae Ibarra is all smiles after finishing her conversion. (Courtesy of Ibarra/ via JTA)
    Alexa Rae Ibarra is all smiles after finishing her conversion. (Courtesy of Ibarra/ via JTA)
  • Rabbi Aaron Potek blows a shofar while recording a TikTok video in front of a watermelon mural on September 9, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images/ via JTA/SUE)
    Rabbi Aaron Potek blows a shofar while recording a TikTok video in front of a watermelon mural on September 9, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images/ via JTA/SUE)
  • Medical staff workers light Hanukkah candles and celebrate with patients at the COVID-19 isolation ward of Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center - Ichilov Hospital in Israel's Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv on December 15, 2020. (Photo by GIL COHEN-MAGEN/AFP via Getty Images/ via JTA)
    Medical staff workers light Hanukkah candles and celebrate with patients at the COVID-19 isolation ward of Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center - Ichilov Hospital in Israel's Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv on December 15, 2020. (Photo by GIL COHEN-MAGEN/AFP via Getty Images/ via JTA)
  • The last in-person Hillel event at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill before the university went entirely online. (UNC-Chapel Hill Hillel/ via JTA)
    The last in-person Hillel event at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill before the university went entirely online. (UNC-Chapel Hill Hillel/ via JTA)
  • Rachel Sumekh holds a sign as part of social justice protests following the death of George Floyd. (Courtesy of Sumekh/ via JTA)
    Rachel Sumekh holds a sign as part of social justice protests following the death of George Floyd. (Courtesy of Sumekh/ via JTA)
  • People wearing masks wait in line amid the coronavirus pandemic on May 18, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images/ via JTA/SUE)
    People wearing masks wait in line amid the coronavirus pandemic on May 18, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images/ via JTA/SUE)
  • A small group of distanced Jewish priests take part in the traditional Cohanim prayer (priestly blessing), during the Passover holiday at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, April 12, 2020. (Photo by Ilia Yefimovich/picture alliance via Getty Images/ via JTA/SUE)
    A small group of distanced Jewish priests take part in the traditional Cohanim prayer (priestly blessing), during the Passover holiday at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, April 12, 2020. (Photo by Ilia Yefimovich/picture alliance via Getty Images/ via JTA/SUE)
Photo essay

Jewish life around the world in 2020: Month by month in pictures

The year began with a historic 25,000-person march against anti-Semitism in New York City, and ends with a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. Here’s what happened in between

JTA — For the Jewish community, 2020 has been historic, turbulent and revelatory.

The year began with 25,000 people, Jews and non-Jews, marching across the Brooklyn Bridge to take a stand against anti-Semitism, and it seemed this could be a year of growing awareness of the fight against Jew hatred — a year of possibility during which America’s political landscape could change.

Then COVID-19 hit and the community moved indoors. By April, most colleges and synagogues were closed. By June, Zoom had become a staple for most Jewish households. By September, some rabbis were doing High Holiday Services on Zoom, while others were praying alone in their homes.

In spite of everything, Jewish life continued. Here’s what the year looked like in photos.

A line of marchers pack the overpass of the Brooklyn Bridge holding signs that read ‘No Hate No Fear’ and ‘We Stand Together Against Hate’ as part of the effort to support the No Hate No Fear Solidarity March against anti-Semitism, January 1, 2020. (Photo by Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images/ via JTA/SUE)

January

Before the COVID-19 pandemic prompted citywide shutdowns, some 25,000 people marched across the Brooklyn Bridge to protest rising anti-Semitism in and around New York City. It was a historic march that symbolically started in Lower Manhattan and crossed the bridge.

Jewish stars Natalie Portman, Taika Waititi, and Timothée Chalamet pose in the press room during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards (Photo by Steve Granitz/ WireImage/via JTA)

February

At the Oscars, one of the last big events before social gatherings became verboten, Maori Jewish director Taika Waititi won best adapted screenplay for “Jojo Rabbit,” his film about a boy growing up in Nazi Germany with Hitler as his imaginary best friend. Jewish actors Natalie Portman and Timothée Chalamet presented Waititi with the award.

Hasidic Jewish men walking on streets during Coronavirus outbreak in Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, March 21, 2020. (Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images/ via JTA)

March

As the number of COVID-19 cases rose, some members of the haredi Orthodox community flouted social distancing rules, walking on the streets of Williamsburg without masks. The ensuing criticism caused some friction between the Hasidic communities and Mayor Bill de Blasio. Pictured above are two Satmar Jewish men walking in the Brooklyn neighborhood on March 21.

A small group of distanced Jewish priests take part in the traditional Cohanim prayer (priestly blessing), during the Passover holiday at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, April 12, 2020. (Photo by Ilia Yefimovich/picture alliance via Getty Images/ via JTA/SUE)

April

In April, Jews around the world planned for a Passover they never expected. The holiday saw a new range of small, virtual and solo seders, and in Israel, socially distanced Passover prayer at the Western Wall.

People wearing masks wait in line amid the coronavirus pandemic on May 18, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images/ via JTA/SUE)

May

By May, parts of New York and other cities had begun to reopen. Jewish life resumed, with people in masks going outside, attending synagogue and even going to small, socially distanced gatherings. Here, New Yorkers wait in a line on May 18.

Rachel Sumekh holds a sign as part of social justice protests following the death of George Floyd. (Courtesy of Sumekh/ via JTA)

June

In June, a wave of protests over the death of George Floyd swept across America, and many Jews joined the millions protesting racial injustice. “We understand the urgency of the moment and stand against police brutality and white supremacy, and silence is not OK right now,” said Rachel Sumekh, pictured above, who marched on June 3.

Alexa Rae Ibarra is all smiles after finishing her conversion. (Courtesy of Ibarra/ via JTA)

July

As COVID-19 began to spread, those who planned to complete their conversion to Judaism with a ceremonial dunk in the ritual bath realized doing so indoors would be impossible. So Alexa Rae Ibarra, a 29-year-old yoga instructor, traveled to Camp Ramah in the Berkshires to finish her conversion.

The last in-person Hillel event at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill before the university went entirely online. (UNC-Chapel Hill Hillel/ via JTA)

August

By August, many colleges and universities had gone completely virtual, taking Jewish campus life with it. “It’s definitely not the same because we’re not having one-on-one and smaller conversations,” student Abigail Adams said. Pictured above is the last in-person Hillel event at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill before the school went all virtual.

Rabbi Aaron Potek blows a shofar while recording a TikTok video in front of a watermelon mural on September 9, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images/ via JTA/SUE)

September

As the weather cooled, it became clear the pandemic would upend traditional holiday services, leaving rabbis to find other, virtual ways to connect with their congregants. Some rabbis, like Rabbi Aaron Potek, even took to TikTok for their daily shofar-blowing.

Nadiv Schorer, right, married Ariel Meiri in 2020 with Orthodox rabbi Avram Mlotek officiating. (David Perlman Photography via JTA)

October

In 2020, more Orthodox rabbis began officiating same-sex weddings, signaling a growing acceptance of LGBTQ Jews, as well as a sea change in Orthodoxy. “Clearly some in the Orthodox community are ready for this,” said Jeremy Borison, who married his husband in 2020.

Nadiv Schorer, above on right, married Ariel Meiri in 2020 with Orthodox Rabbi Avram Mlotek officiating.

Now Vice President-elect Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and her husband Doug Emhoff take the stage during a drive-in get out the vote rally, Monday, November 2, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

November

In November, Kamala Harris made history as both the first woman and the first woman of color to be elected vice president, and her husband, Doug Emhoff, made history as the first Jewish “second husband.” Together they presented to the public a picture of what a prominent interfaith family could look like.

Medical staff workers light Hanukkah candles and celebrate with patients at the COVID-19 isolation ward of Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center – Ichilov Hospital in Israel’s Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv on December 15, 2020. (Photo by GIL COHEN-MAGEN/AFP via Getty Images/ via JTA)

December

For Hanukkah, people celebrated by lighting menorahs in hospital wards, on Zoom and outdoors in places as varied as Dubai, Australia and Casablanca. In Tel Aviv, at the Ichilov Hospital’s COVID-19 isolation ward, medical staffers lit Hanukkah candles.

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