Ritual

Bat Mitzvah revolutions and evolutions

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Judith Kaplan (Eisenstein) made history 87 years ago today when she became the first American to celebrate a Bat Mitzvah. As the daughter of an innovative rabbi - Mordechai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism- she benefited from his belief in egalitarianism and his willingness to challenge tradition.

What I learned from Aliza Lavie ...

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Did you know that there's a special prayer for preparing the wicks of Shabbat candles? Neither did I. This past Tuesday, I listened to Dr. Aliza Lavie discuss her book, A Jewish Woman's Prayer Book, a collection of prayers composed by and for women over hundreds of years in all parts of the world.

My Bat Mitzvah's Bat Mitzvah

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Sealfons Department Store Displaying Bathing Suits, Blizzard of '96Jordan's Bat Mitzvah, January 6, 1996 Today is the 13th anniversary of my Bat Mitzvah - my Bat Mitzvah’s Bat Mitzvah.

Rethinking Purity on Tu B'Av

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With the exception of Tisha B'Av, the day of fasting and mourning in commemoration of the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem, not much happens on the Jewish calendar between Shavuot in May/June and Rosh HaShanah in September/October. Or so we thought...

The American Jewess: Jewish Weddings in 1898

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Chuppah

by, Rebecca Hoenig Friedman, cross-posted on Jewess

It's June. Wedding season is officially upon us, and with it, a return to our feature on The American Jewess after a brief hiatus.

The American Jewess: Religious Observance in 1896

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by Rebecca Honig Friedman. Cross-posted on the Jewess blog.

Some of the articles we're finding in our look at The American Jewess archives seem surprisingly contemporary (19th century language aside), yet a closer look reveals the more subtle points of contrast between how we approach particular issues now vs. then.

Mezuzas on the Moon?

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"And you shall write them on the doorposts of your ... spaceship?" Jewish artist, Laura Cowan, has been making space-travel themed mezuzot for years. She was taken by surprise, however, when she received a call from American Jewish astronaut, Greg Chamitoff, asking if he could bring two of her rocket-inspired ritual objects into outer space.

More on the boys

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There has been a recent flurry of attention to the issue of boys’ (and men’s) flagging participation in Jewish life, particularly in the synagogue -- some going so far as to call this a crisis.

Rona Shapiro Makes History in Cleveland

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Over thirty-five years have passed since a small New York study group—which grew to become Ezrat Nashim—set out to study the status of women in Judaism, and presented Conservative rabbis with a manifesto entitled “Jewish Women Call for Change” at the Rabbinical Assembly convention. This effort significantly influenced the Conservative movement’s decision to ordain female rabbis in 1983, and brought about many other advancements in equalizing women’s participation in Jewish ritual.

The "bris-less" bris

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An article in this week's Forward describes the growing opposition to circumcision among American Jews, and the development of “bris-less” bris rituals. Although circumcision is generally considered a pretty elemental aspect of Jewish practice and identity for males, this story certainly wasn’t surprising to me. I’ve had many debates with Jewish friends about this issue, and struggled with the decision of whether to circumcise my son (we did, and I cried through the whole thing).

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