Miriam

Following in Miriam's Path

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Israeli girls dancing

At every Passover Seder, there are the traditional items on the table: the Seder plate, a place for Elijah, and that gnawing hunger before finally feasting. On my table there is another item that makes a quiet appearance every year. A Kiddush cup, the same one my family uses for Shabbat, is given a new name for Pesach. The Kos Miriyam, or Miriam’s Cup, has its own part of our Seder rituals. After a certain number of parody songs about the holiday, and some acting out of the plagues—aided by ketchup (blood) and sunglasses (darkness)—the Kos Miriyam finally gets its turn. Passing the cup around, we listen as my mother tells us about Miriam’s well and the divine healing power held by the water. This water brought the Jewish nation from a place of physical and emotional slavery to a free, spiritual, lively community. She explains that as Jews and as individuals we are still on journeys to a better place.

There are times in our own lives when we try to reach a land of milk and honey, but often there are roadblocks, speed bumps, and detours along the way. We can take on these challenges single-handedly, but if we do, we are more likely to work ourselves into the ground, unable to continue moving forward. Instead, we can choose to reach out to the women surrounding us for assistance. With their help, we can overcome obstacles and continue on our individual journeys. The women in our lives provide support to each of us, as Miriam supported the Israelites on their grueling journey to the Holy Land.

And the Women, Dancing With Their Timbrels...

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Mirjam by Feuerbach

The new Reform version of Mi Chamocha specifically mentions the prophet Miriam alongside her brother Moses. It’s one of several changes in recent years to help make the traditional prayers more balanced in gender. This one stands out, however, because Miriam has without a doubt become the star of the Mi Chamocha. At my temple, we often segue from that prayer right into “And the women, dancing with their timbrels...” We joyously praise God and women at the same time, and it is all thanks to Miriam.

Over the past few decades, Miriam has become the most prominent symbol of feminism in Judaism, and I am proud to say that I share her name.

Passover Poetry: Giving Miriam her song

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2012 National Poetry Month Logo

In recent years, Miriam has become regular presence at the Passover table.  For some she is there in the form of

Celebrating Miriam

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Miriam in "The Songs of Joy"

Big sister. Song leader. Outspoken challenger. Prophet. In her many roles, Miriam is integral to the story of Exodus. Her legacy is complex, dynamic, and hopeful.

Faith is packing your timbrel

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Miriam in "The Songs of Joy"

Last Pesach, I heard a sermon given in which my friend and rabbi used the phrase “faith is packing your timbrel” and I got super fixated on this concept and have found it running throug

The orange on the seder plate and Miriam's Cup: Foregrounding women at your seder

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Just before we drink the second cup of wine in the Passover seder, we speak of three symbols considered indispensible to the holiday's meaning: the shank bone, the matzah, and the bitter herbs.

They will spit: In the tradition of Miriam, Jewish women will continue to challenge the establishment

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Miriam and Aaron complain against Moses

The ultra-orthodox establishment in Israel is reportedly losing sleep over women’s demands for equality.

The confrontational face of Miriam

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Miriam in "The Songs of Joy"

When we are first introduced to Miriam in the Bible, the times are bleak. The Egyptian Pharaoh has decreed that all baby boys born to the Hebrew slaves be immediately put to death.

Why, on this night, do we include women's voices?

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Passover poll

In collaboration with JewishBoston.com, JWA are putting the finishing touches on a new Haggadah that highlights women's voices. (Keep an eye out for it next week.) As we've been thinking about seders and traditions and the different ways we could include women's voices in the Haggadah we're creating, I wanted to hear more from you about your traditions and how you include women's voices.

Miriam and the Passover Story

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Miriam in "The Songs of Joy"

I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that Passover is my favorite holiday.

Rising Voices

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