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Ritual

Sue Levi Elwell

Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell dedicated her career to creating opportunities for Jewish women to learn and take ownership of Jewish rituals.

Tamara Cohen

Tamara Cohen’s work with the Jewish Women’s Archive and Ma’yan: the Jewish Women’s Project helped popularize lesser-known heroines of Jewish history and new feminist rituals such as making Miriam’s Cup part of the Passover Seder.

Nina Beth Cardin

Part of the first class of women ordained as Conservative rabbis, Nina Beth Cardin embraced the unconventional path of a “community pulpit” by founding healing centers and creating new ways to approach miscarriage and loss.

Helène Aylon

Through her art, Helène Aylon explored the intersectionality among her feminism, the Orthodox Judaism of her upbringing, and her place in a war-torn world.

The Power of Stories

When I was younger, if you had asked me which of the many Jewish holidays is my favorite, I would never have said Passover. The restrictions that Passover requires made it hard for me to enjoy the message behind the Passover story. Plus, the drama that Passover created in my family, with my parents running around the house cleaning, only added to the stress. My grandmother changed this feeling for me.

Eden Marcus with her grandmother

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2013-2014 Rising Voices Fellow Eden Marcus with her grandmother.

2013-2014 Rising Voices Fellow Eden Marcus with her grandmother.

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Following in Miriam's Path

At every Passover Seder, there are the traditional items on the table: the Seder plate, a place for Elijah, and that gnawing hunger before finally feasting. On my table there is another item that makes a quiet appearance every year. A Kiddush cup, the same one my family uses for Shabbat, is given a new name for Pesach. The Kos Miriyam, or Miriam’s Cup, has its own part of our Seder rituals. After a certain number of parody songs about the holiday, and some acting out of the plagues—aided by ketchup (blood) and sunglasses (darkness)—the Kos Miriyam finally gets its turn. Passing the cup around, we listen as my mother tells us about Miriam’s well and the divine healing power held by the water. This water brought the Jewish nation from a place of physical and emotional slavery to a free, spiritual, lively community. She explains that as Jews and as individuals we are still on journeys to a better place.

There are times in our own lives when we try to reach a land of milk and honey, but often there are roadblocks, speed bumps, and detours along the way. We can take on these challenges single-handedly, but if we do, we are more likely to work ourselves into the ground, unable to continue moving forward. Instead, we can choose to reach out to the women surrounding us for assistance. With their help, we can overcome obstacles and continue on our individual journeys. The women in our lives provide support to each of us, as Miriam supported the Israelites on their grueling journey to the Holy Land.

Ruth Fredman Cernea

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Dr. Ruth Fredman Cernea, cultural anthropologist.
Rights
Public Domain
Contributor: Submitter
Benson, Stephen

Dr. Ruth Fredman Cernea, cultural anthropologist.

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Olivia Link's Bat Mitzvah

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Olivia Link reading Torah.

Rights
Creative Commons (attribution non-commercial share alike)

Olivia Link reading Torah.

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Rachel Cowan

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Rachel Cowan, Rabbi and leader in Jewish healing.
Courtesy of Rachel Cowan and the Waters of Eden, San Diego Community Mikvah and Education Center
Rights
JWA use only on jwa.org

Rachel Cowan, Rabbi and leader in Jewish healing.

Courtesy of Rachel Cowan and the Waters of Eden, San Diego Community Mikvah and Education Center

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Ritual." (Viewed on May 3, 2016) <http://jwa.org/topics/ritual>.

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