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Religious Life

Mohelot and Brit Milah: Does it matter if a woman wields the knife?

Can a woman perform a bris? Jewish scholars, even the most Orthodox, answer with a tentative “why not?” for there is no halachic (Jewish law) prohibition against mohelot – female mohels. While Jewish law states that it’s preferable for a Jewish male to perform the brit milah (circumcision) if one is present, it is not mandatory. The symbolism of a woman circumcising a man is inherently provocative, touching on questions of spirituality, nurturing mothers, and emasculation. Many men, when polled on the subject, reflexively cross their legs.

"Being welcoming" is an end unto itself

I recently read a piece called "New Study Finds That It’s Not a Lack of Welcome That’s Keeping the Intermarrieds Away" in the eJewish Philanthropy daily e-letter. It explained how a study done by Steven M. Cohen, a sociologist who studies American Jews, determined that it was a lack of "competency" rather than welcome that was keeping intermarried families and their children from engaging with the Jewish community.

Half Jewess with a Whole Attitude

When I was a little girl looking suspiciously at a new kind of food (a matzoh ball, for instance, or a slice of Jewish honey cake.) My dad would say, “Well, maybe you’ll half like it. After all, you’re half Jewish!”

Blogging the Institute: A Night of Jewish Gospel

On the final night of the JWA Summer Institute for Educators, we wrapped with a fun and moving final session on Jewish Gospel Music.

The Sisterhood 50: America's Influential Women Rabbis

The Sisterhood, the Forward’s women’s issues blog, has twice called attention to the chronic underrepresentation of women on Newsweek’s annual “50 Most Influential Rabbis” list.

Thinking about women and food on Tisha B'Av

This Tuesday marked Tisha B’Av, the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av. Tisha B’Av is a Jewish fast day marking the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, but over the years, it has come to serve as a symbolic day of mourning for tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people over the course of history.

Maybe I’d Feel More Jewish If I Could Afford It?

I’ve often kvetched about the high cost of being Jewish. From synagogue dues to the JEA membership to Sunday School tuition to tzedakah to summer camp, it adds up to many thousands of dollars a year, and don’t get me started on the projected costs of hosting a bar mitzvah in a few short years. Sometimes I add it up mentally and fantasize about the fabulous vacation the family could take (to Israel, even!) or what I could contribute to the kids’ college funds.

Finding Women's Empowerment in Jewish Literacy

I’ve been thinking a lot about literacy lately. Maybe it’s because I’m working for a children’s book company this summer or maybe it’s because I am now open to seeing the holes in my own literacy. Of course, when I think of literacy, I tend to associate it with Judaism because that is where many of my holes originate.

Women of the Wall Leader Arrested for Carrying a Torah

Following the arrest today of Anat Hoffman — chair of Women of the Wall, and former Jerusalem municipal council member — for being a woman holding a Torah at the Western Wall plaza, Hoffman offered me her first-hand account of this morning’s events. 

Eating Jewish: What is "Jewish food?"

What exactly is Jewish food? This is the question that most people will invariably ask me after I tell them that I research Jewish food. Most people ask this question with interest, while others are incredulous that there could be Jewish food. Yet, whenever I am confronted with this question I realize that one simple answer cannot work to define this term that eludes any strict definition.

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Jewish Women's Archive. "Religious Life." (Viewed on May 1, 2016) <http://jwa.org/blog/religion>.

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