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Jewish Holidays

Barbara Dobkin

Barbara Dobkin is the Founding Chair of the Jewish Women’s Archive’s Board of Directors. She is also the founder and Chair of Ma’yan: The Jewish Women’s Project of the JCC in Manhattan and Chair of the Board of The Hadassah Foundation.

Kim Chernin

After a moment’s thought, I know: I come from a Russian-Jewish, Marxist family that had set aside its practice of Judaism. I didn’t even realize until long after he was dead that my father, who was born to an Orthodox family, had been a bar mitzvah and as an adult still read Hebrew. I have had to discover Judaism on my own, educate myself, and learn what it means to be a Jewish woman who worships Shekhinah (the feminine presence of God). I am proud of this accomplishment. I am a Jewish writer. What more is there to say?

E.M. Broner

E.M. Broner, Ph.D., Professor Emerita, is the author of ten books, including The Women's Haggadah; Weave of Women; The Telling: The Story of a Group of Jewish Women Who Journey to Spirituality through Community and Ceremony; and Mornings and Mourning: A Kaddish Journal.

Catching Fire this Hanukkah

I cannot walk out of my house (or open my laptop) without being bombarded with suggestions for Hanukkah (this year, often Thanksgivukkah) merchandise. (Ironically, I am simultaneously presented with ads for “Catching Fire” themed goods, in contrast to the movie’s message.) The Hanukkah narrative has the power to be subversive; it is a story of a minority making themselves heard, of an oppressed group claiming their rights. When those of us who are privileged to be able to buy gifts (and menurkeys) focus on the commercial elements of the holiday at the expense of the holiday’s story, we create a bubble like the Capitol. Hanukkah should be a call to remind us that we should be the districts, not the Capitol; our power should be channeled into fighting injustice, not simply consuming what is provided to us.

Editors note: If you haven’t read The Hunger Games (or seen the movies), you’ll be safe from any major spoilers in this post from one of our Rising Voices Fellows. Be sure to check the JWA blog each Tuesday for a new post from our fellows—and check out the great educational resources provided by our partner organization, Prozdor.

An Open Letter to Whoever Finds my Menurkey

In 2013 a miraculous thing happened. Thanksgiving and Haunkuah overlapped, and the whole world went crazy. The day was deemed Thanksgivukkah and quickly became a thing of legend. Songs popped up- some genuine, some parodiesWebsites devoted to the day were designed. T-shirts in every shape and size celebrated the day. Even the Mayor of Boston proclaimed the day to be an official holiday.

And I bought a menorah shaped like a turkey—aka a menurkey . 

Celebrate Judith; Celebrate Hanukkah

Last week, JWA led the first online learning program of the year, “Hanukkah: Ignite and Inspire.” We spoke to almost 20 educators from across the country, covering topics from incorporating lessons of Jewish heroines to the challenges of creating a refreshing and relevant Hanukkah curriculum. I was most excited to talk about Judith, a Jewish, Biblical era woman whose story is not included in the Jewish scriptural canon.

Esther Broner: A Weave of Women

Esther Broner, or E.M. as she was known, was a Jewish feminist, prolific author, professor, and pioneer of the feminist  movement. Known for re-imagining traditional Jewish customs and rituals, she co-wrote The Women’s Haggadah, which encouraged women to devise their own version of traditional rituals.

The Womb from which the World Came

Judaism does not shy away from the pain of these longings on Rosh Hashanah—in fact, it confronts them head on. This year more than ever I am struck by the stories we read about Sarah and Hannah during these two days. During the holiday we read of Sarah’s yearning for a child and her surprise at conceiving even after her cycle had stopped. And of Hannah’s burning desire for a child that, after many years, finally came to be. What connects these stories of barren women yearning for children and the name of Rosh Hashanah as Hayom Harat Olam (the Day of the World’s Conception)?

Heartsick

As the words of Eicha echo in my ears and the tune gets stuck in my head, I think about how next summer we will still be lamenting same historical tragedies. The crusades and the inquisition and the Holocaust and the siege of Jerusalem all still will have happened. But additional tragedies, of children going to bed and waking up and going to bed again still hungry, of brains not being fed by education, and of bodies forced to bear children they do not want or cannot take care of, are still ahead of us.
 

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Jewish Holidays." (Viewed on March 27, 2015) <http://jwa.org/topics/jewish-holidays>.

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