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Ritual

Laughter, Ritual, and the Pew Study

To paraphrase the legendary Joni Mitchell, I have looked at the Pew Study results from both sides now. I can see how the disconnect with Jewish ritual can be disconcerting and I see how the community’s freedom to identify themselves openly as Jews is incredibly empowering. There’s been a lot of talk about how to interpret the study and where to go from here, but I wonder if we might already have the tools we need to bridge the gaps noted in the study, using some of the traits that the study said best identify the Jewish community.

A Woman Taught Me to Lay Tefillin

The event was called a “Jewish BLT: Bagel, Lox and Tefillin.” I stood there holding the newly purchased and never used tefillin in my hand as I unfolded the instructions ready to tackle this ancien

Strength in Fragility

With the summer’s end, my hands will no longer be gritty from tucking tangled roots into the soil, from weeding out invaders and doling out compost.

Leaving In Order To Return

Though still in the month of Elul, we are approaching Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. We are leaving 5772 behind and will soon enter 5773.

Reinventing Rituals: June, a month of Pride and same-sex marriages

June is full of irony: not only is June Pride month, but it is also the unofficial start to wedding season. So many are still fighting for equal marriage. As I write this, lawmakers in Albany are struggling to garner enough votes to make same-sex marriage legal in New York state (see resources to get involved at the end of this post).

We remember Esther M. Broner

We were saddened to wake up to the news that Esther M. Broner passed away yesterday. A beloved novelist, playwright, ritualist, and feminist writer, Esther M. Broner was born on July 8, 1927, in Detroit, Michigan. Her writing, including Her Mothers (1975), A Weave of Women (1978) and many others, made her one of the most important teachers of Jewish feminism and feminist Judaism.

Eating Jewish: Charoset medley

Although most, if not all, Jewish holiday meals use certain foods and dishes to symbolize various elements of the celebration, the seder meal does so in a way that is integral to the ritual of the meal itself. From the maror to the zeroah, each has its place in the structure of the seder. Of all these symbolic foods, charoset is definitely my favorite and I have to agree with Gil Marks when he says in the Encyclopedia of Jewish Food that it “is unquestionably the most flavorful and arguably everyone’s favorite of the seder foods.”

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

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.

"You're doing it wrong": Finding my voice on Simchat Torah

At twelve (or sometimes thirteen), a Jewish girl becomes a Bat Mitzvah. Bat Mitzvah means daughter of the commandments, which, for a religious girl, means taking on the obligations and traditions of the Jewish religion. The Bat Mitzvah celebration and ceremony is a relatively new invention, as compared to an equivalent ritual for boys, but it is important and beautiful nonetheless. After my Bat Mitzvah, I was eager to participate at my synagogue as much as I could.

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.

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Jewish Women's Archive. "Ritual." (Viewed on December 21, 2014) <http://jwa.org/blog/ritual>.

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