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Jewish Holidays

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)?


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.

I Am the Egg (Wo)Man: Reflections on Rosh Chodesh Av & Tisha B'Av

As a Reform Jew, I have long struggled with the meaning and ritual of Tisha B’Av. I have learned and studied over the years; this week at the Hartman Institute, we wrestled with the notions of and texts on communal mourning. I do not wish to see the Temple rebuilt speedily in my day, and so what do I do with this holiday?

An Un-Love Song

An Un-Love Song is written as a psalm to Shavuot, which is associated with one of the most beautiful, celebratory poems in history, the Song of Songs. However, it’s written in the style of a Lamentation, as a response to heartbreaking acts of aggression towards women and children in the misappropriated name of religion. The poem addresses current events against a backdrop of Biblical recounting, including the Mount Sinai experience, the sin of worshipping the golden calf, the subsequent breaking of the original Tablets, and the story of Ruth and Naomi. It is a decidedly feminist poem.

Queen Esther and Bella Abzug: Costumes, Leadership, and Identity

On Purim we dress in costume to create a new persona. We delight in unexpected images. We poke holes in the humdrum everyday roles of men and women, rich and poor, young and old. Our assumptions about people shift, and thus, the holiday transforms us.

Jewish Diversity and Innovation: The View from the Kitchen

What can we learn about Jewish history and culture from recipes? In this Go & Learn guide, we begin with a recipe for “Moroccan Pumpkin Soup with Chick-peas in Massachusetts” to explore how Jewish food culture has adapted as Jews have migrated from place to place. Just as Batsheva Levy Salzman brought her mother's pumpkin soup recipe from Morocco to Israel and then to Massachusetts, and switched its setting from Sukkot to Thanksgiving, recipes tell us stories about Jewish history and our ever-changing rich cultural diversity.

The American Jewess on Liberation and Freedom

Passover is the holiday of liberation and freedom. What do these terms and this holiday mean to us as Americans? This Go & Learn guide features an editorial from the April 1897 issue of The American Jewess exploring the meaning of Passover in relation to the Fourth of July. The editor, Rosa Sonneschein, asks what it means for Jews to celebrate Passover in the context of American religious and national freedom.

Ray Frank's Yom Kippur Sermon, 1890

Ray Frank (1861-1948), called the "Girl Rabbi of the Golden West," became the first Jewish woman to preach formally from a pulpit in 1890, when she delivered sermons for the High Holy Days in Spokane, WA. Although the language of her Yom Kippur sermon may sound old fashioned, Frank's message remains both relevant and compelling.

Tonight My Daughter Will Celebrate Her First Passover

As I’m writing this, I’m sitting in my car outside my daughter’s day care. No worries, there’s no crying here, no major trauma. I’m trying to check things off my list while waiting for the start of “El dia de Primavera,” a celebration of the first day of spring.


How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Jewish Holidays." (Viewed on November 28, 2015) <>.


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