If this week's double parshios looks at the power of words to do harm, in an era when most communication was oral and few in the community could write, what would it say of the power of words when most of the 7 billion of us now have access to a cell phone, can quickly send a text, and can forward that text to the dozens, hundreds, or thousands in our contact lists?
I have long seen myself as the dissident daughter of an orthodox father, a truant who broke her father’s heart by turning my back on his cherished orthodoxy and living a more experimental way of life. It is therefore a delicate matter, this fascination of mine with the Other Daughter – the good girl – the one whose father did not call out after her in censure, the one whose aptitude for learning was cultivated on her father’s knee, the one who no doubt offered both her parents much solace.
In our lives: This past week we have seen a “modern” example of sacrifice upon hearing the news of American troops killing Osama Bin Laden. All week I reflected on what Osama’s life meant and the legacy he would be remembered by. Reading countless news articles caused me to question, was Osama happy? And, although the US spent a decade hunting him, did our country do the right thing by killing him? These are not easy questions, and there may not be easy answers.
Every Shabbat, Jews all over the world go to synagogue, pray, kibbitz, and, of course, read from the Torah. And while there is plenty of debate among and within the Jewish movements about who wrote the words of the Pentateuch, there is no question that the words got on the parchment thanks to the master skill of the sofer.
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.
Earlier this week, a post on The Sisterhood blog (with whom JWA regularly cross-posts) publicized a call from Women of the Wall for photographs of women with Torahs as part of a solidarity movement with WOW, who have been subject to harassment and arrest over the past several months in their attempts to hold egalitarian Rosh Chodesh services at Robinson’s Arch in Jerusalem.
The work of the historian is to not only tell a story, but to tell it in a way that makes it real, vivid, alive, and human for the receiver. I learned this on Monday when I had the privilege of attending the Matrix Awards and hearing Doris Kearns-Goodwin’s acceptance speech. This wisdom instantly struck a chord because it describes exactly why I write and what I want to do with my writing.
At this advent of the secular New Year, it is appropriate for Jews to reflect on their duty to Tikkun Olam to “repair the world.” It is apparent that among our greatest tasks is to repair our broken health care system in the U.S. today.
You may have heard about the arrest last month of medical student Nofrat Frenkel for wearing a tallit (prayer shawl) when she prayed with Women of the Wall (WOW), a monthly women's prayer group that meets at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.