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Jewish Holidays

What Queen Esther can teach us about intermarriage

“She was trying as hard as she could not to be beautiful. But she had a brightness on her, made stronger by the fact that she wanted to hide it; thinking if it was seen, somehow, it would make him choose her, and of course it did.” 

Vashti is not a failure; Esther is not a bad feminist

Abby Wisse Schachter, associate editor at the New York Post, recently published an article in Commentary Magazine that suggests that feminist thinking has changed the meaning of Purim, and that that is a bad thing. I have not read the piece because the article is only available to subscribers, and therefore I cannot evaluate the merit of Schachter’s individual arguments. Still, I reject the idea that a feminist interpretation of the Purim story “lionizes the wrong woman, promotes a false political message of nonviolence and tolerance, and worst of all embraces failure instead of promoting perhaps the greatest of Jewish heroines,” as Schachter argues in her abstract.

Purim, feminism, and my kids

What’s not to love about Purim? Another success story for our people: plan to kill us, foiled! Bring on the food!

Submit your environmental activist before Tu B'Shevat!

Saturday is Tu B'Shevat, known as the "Jewish New Year for trees," the "Jewish Arbor Day," or the "Jewish birthday for trees." The holiday has an interesting history that, believe it or not, began with taxes.  Lenore Skenazy explains in The Forward:

Back about 2,000 years ago, Tu B’Shevat — literally the 15th day of the month of Shvat — was a tax deadline, of sorts. Any trees planted before Tu B’Shvat were considered to have been “born” the previous year. Those planted after Tu B’Shvat (or, perhaps those that started blooming after Tu B’Shvat) were part of the next year’s crop. As the amount of fruit you were required to tithe from each tree was determined by its age, this date was significant. And since the easiest way to remember a tree’s birthday was to plant it on that day, that’s what some folks did: planted.

Add an environmental activist to our list!

Beginning with the commandment for Adam and Eve to protect the Garden of Eden, Jewish tradition teaches that sustaining the health of the earth and all of its living things is a moral imperative.

Who wields the pans on Hanukkah?

Ever since that one little jug found in the corner of the First Temple burned for eight days instead of one, olive oil has been political. 

The one day supply of olive oil lasted for eight days, so the eternal flame did not go out while the temple was re-dedicated. Thus, Judaism’s victory against Hellenism was ratified by the holy light, and we now remember the miracle by serving fried food for eight days.

What's on YOUR latkes?

Hanukkah is coming, and with it my usual debate with my husband’s family. They are wonderful--sophisticated, warm and accepting of my last-minute hysterical gift decrees (no plastic toys, no battery-operated toys, whatever is bothering me that year). They are flexible about what a proper Menorah is, especially if a grandchild constructs it. But, don’t touch their toppings.

May Podcast: A Conversion Story for Shavuot

Tomorrow starts the festival of Shavuot, a time of spiritual liberation that commemorates the ancient Israelites receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai. The holiday is also linked to the story of Ruth, a Moabite woman, and her relationship with her Israelite mother-in-law, Naomi. As recounted in the Book of Ruth, traditionally read on Shavuot, after Naomi and her daughters-in-law Ruth and Orpah all become widows, Naomi urges the two younger women to leave her and find new husbands.

First female cantor leads Rosh Hashanah services

September 15, 1955

Betty Robbins, the world's first female cantor, led Rosh Hashanah evening services at Temple Avodah of Oceanside, New York.

Ray Frank preaches on Rosh Hashanah

September 14, 1890

On the eve of Rosh Hashanah, Ray Frank became the first Jewish woman to preach formally from a synagogue pulpit in the United States.


How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Jewish Holidays." (Viewed on December 1, 2015) <>.


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