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Ritual

Barbara Dobkin and Eve Landau at Ma'yan's First Feminist Seder, March 1994

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Barbara Dobkin and Eve Landau at Ma'yan's first feminist seder at the Jewish Theological Seminary in March 1994.
Photograph by Joan L. Roth, courtesy of Ma’yan.

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JWA use only on jwa.org
Contributor: Submitter
Benson, Stephen

Barbara Dobkin and Eve Landau at Ma'yan's first feminist seder at the Jewish Theological Seminary in March 1994.

Photograph by Joan L. Roth, courtesy of Ma’yan.

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Dagbladet, Dawkins, Intactivists & How Demonizing Choice Makes Militancy

This intimidating cartoon really got to me, a moderate believer who made what I thought was a minor sacrifice to tribal loyalty—twice—over 20 years ago when I chose the traditional ceremony for my newborn sons. Of course I did not like causing my babies pain, but I had seen the ceremony several times and knew that it did not last long at all, and having just gone through childbirth, I knew pain was part of life.

Norwegian Circumcision Cartoon

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This Norwegian cartoon relating to circumcision says, "Mistreating? No this is tradition, an important part of our belief!"
"Belief? Oh yes, then it is all right."

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Public Domain

This Norwegian cartoon relating to circumcision says, "Mistreating? No this is tradition, an important part of our belief!"
"Belief? Oh yes, then it is all right."

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A Woman's Place is at Prayer

Nearly 20 years ago I was living on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, a haven for observant Conservative Jews. I had my choice of multiple minyanim to attend; even the crowded weekend city streets had an air of the Sabbath, and kosher food abounded.

There were so many Conservative and egalitarian options that I rarely ventured into the neighborhood’s Orthodox community, and I certainly never attended an Orthodox synagogue.

Kathryn Garcia-Cameron's Naming Ceremony, 2013

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Kathryn Garcia-Cameron's naming ceremony in 2013.
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JWA use only on jwa.org

Kathryn Garcia-Cameron's naming ceremony in 2013.

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Taking Risks, Making Change: Bat Mitzvah and Other Evolving Traditions

Today, the Bat Mitzvah may seem like a routine aspect of a young girl's Jewish life. But less than 100 years ago, no public ceremony existed to mark a girl's coming of age, and over the past century, what a "Bat Mitzvah" looks like has continually shifted. This Go & Learn guide uses the letters from one girl's campaign to have the first Saturday morning Bat Mitzvah in her congregation as a case study for exploring how we confront controversial issues and make change in our communities.

Sally Gottesman's Bat Mitzvah Invitation, 1975

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Invitation to Sally Gottesman's Bat Mitzvah, May 1975.
Courtesy of Sally Gottesman
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JWA use only on jwa.org
Contributor: Owner
Gottesman, Sally

Invitation to Sally Gottesman's Bat Mitzvah, May 1975.

Courtesy of Sally Gottesman

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Tefillin Barbie: Considering Gender and Ritual Garb

Do women in your community wear tefillin and tallit when they pray? Do you? For many, the relationship between gender and ritual garb is still evolving, as Jews consider their personal and communal associations with these objects and practices. This Go & Learn guide uses the provocative image of "Tefillin Barbie"—created in 2006 by soferet (ritual scribe) Jen Taylor Friedman—to explore issues of gender, ritual, and body image.

Henrietta Szold on Saying Kaddish

Jewish tradition is filled with rituals that help us mark moments of joy and pain, and through which we can honor family members and the values they have passed on to us. Among these are powerful practices around death—such as saying Kaddish (the Jewish prayer for mourners) and sitting shiva. Traditionally, women did not recite the Kaddish or participate in the minyan (prayer quorum) at shiva. In 1916, in an early example of what would be many challenges by women to the restrictions on their participation in Jewish ritual, Henrietta Szold (the founder of Hadassah) defied Jewish tradition and asserted her right to say Kaddish. In the letter featured in this edition of "Go & Learn," Szold politely declines the offer of a male family friend to say Kaddish for her mother and sets out her reasons for reciting it herself.

Wrestling with God and Jewish Tradition

The biblical figure of Jacob is also called Israel, the one who wrestled with God (Genesis 35:10). As the "Children of Israel," the Jewish community has carried on this legacy of wrestling with God and tradition in our attempts to create meaning in our lives. This Go & Learn guide uses the artwork of the Jewish feminist artist Helène Aylon to explore how we—as individuals and as a community—grapple with ideas about God and Jewish tradition.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Ritual." (Viewed on May 25, 2016) <http://jwa.org/topics/ritual>.

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