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As fighting continues between Israel and Hamas, American Jewish groups will hold a historic gathering in Washington, D.C., Tuesday afternoon to show support for Israel and to oppose rising antisemitism.

“We’re going to come together in large numbers and we’re going to show Congress and the president that the vast majority of the American people support their policies with regard to Israel and that we are not scared and we are not intimidated and America is not going to succumb to antisemitism,” said Eric Fingerhut, president and CEO of The Jewish Federations of North America, to Religion News Service.

The event, called the March for Israel, is expected to involve tens of thousands of people, including Jewish students from schools across the country. It will take place on the National Mall and feature religious and political messages.

“Members of Congress and senior members of the U.S. administration have been invited to speak, as have families of the 200+ people still being held hostage by Hamas,” Religion News Service reported.

Tuesday’s event follows similar pro-Israel gatherings across the country and around the world. Over the weekend, for example, more than 180,000 people took part in peaceful marches in France aimed at condemning antisemitism, according to The Associated Press.

The March for Israel also follows large marches in support of the Palestinian people and against Israel’s counterattack strategy. Some protesters have urged the Biden administration to stop sending money to Israel, a step that March for Israel participants oppose.

“We knew that Congress was starting to hear from other voices,” Fingerhut told Religion News Service. “We want to make sure they heard from us.”

The March for Israel website notes that Tuesday’s event might spawn counterprotests. Organizers have urged participants not to engage with these potential side events.

“We are actively working with law enforcement and our security team to ensure we are prepared for counter-protests. Should we experience counter-protests on the grounds, we ask our Federations and community partners not to engage to avoid any unnecessary escalation,” the website says.

The March for Israel is scheduled to last from 1-3 p.m. EST.

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Term of the week: Leap second

Have you heard of leap seconds? They’re like Feb. 29 — the leap day that’s added to the calendar every four years to account for the difference between the 365 days on a typical calendar and the 365.25 days it takes the Earth to travel around the sun — except they’re only one second long.

Leap seconds are observed to correct for a difference between carefully coordinated clocks around the world and the actual time it takes the Earth to travel the paths we base our clocks on. They’re an essential part of the global effort to keep human and planetary time in sync, according to Ars Technica.

The article noted that leap seconds are falling out of favor among some scientists, because observing them is not a straightforward process. Leap seconds can cause computer outages and disrupted communication with satellites in outer space.

A growing group would like to do away with leap seconds and start observing a leap minute — much less often — instead. But this plan has some high-profile enemies, including Russian leaders, who have said that old satellites wouldn’t be able to adapt, and potentially the Vatican.

“The Vatican ... has concerned itself with astronomy since at least the Gregorian calendar,” Ars Technica reported.

What I’m reading...

Astronaut Frank Borman, who made history in 1968 as part of the first manned mission to orbit the moon, died earlier this month at age 95. In its obituary of him, Christianity Today described Borman’s religious journey, including his decision to read from the Bible during his crew’s Christmas Eve broadcast from the moon back to Earth. “As a camera showed the lunar surface passing below a window, the three astronauts read the Scripture from a piece of paper. Borman went last, closing with verses 9 and 10: ‘And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good,’” Christianity Today reported.

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Like Borman, Guilherme Peixoto put together a career worthy of international media coverage. But instead of being an astronaut, Peixoto, 49, is a Catholic priest and DJ ... at the same time. His DJ career took off this summer when he was asked by fellow Catholic leaders to prepare the World Youth Day crowd for the appearance of Pope Francis, according to The Associated Press. He accepted the unusual task and mixed a dance beat with excerpts from old papal speeches.

A new report from the Survey Center on American Life compares the teenage experiences of members of different generations. The research confirms something that’s already pretty widely accepted: Many fewer members of Gen Z spent time in church as teens than members of the millennial, Gen X and baby boomer generations.

Odds and ends

Last week, I was heartbroken to learn that fewer than half of American adults read a book for fun during the most recent year tracked by the National Endowment for the Arts. Are you in that group? If you’d like to start reading more often, I’d recommend starting with an old favorite. Treasured books can help you rebuild your reading habit.

Do you have any Thanksgiving- or Christmas-related craft ideas for a preschooler? I’d love suggestions for art projects to do with my older son.

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