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Ritual

A Jewish girl’s guide to a bat mitzvah project

I felt overwhelmed when deciding what to do for a bat mitzvah project.

Bat Mitzvah: A Balancing Act

A few months back, I dragged my 12-year-old, Harry-Potter-enthusiast sister to go with me to see the new Disney princess movie Tangled (which retells the Rapunzel story). In one part of the film, Rapunzel has just escaped from the tower against her mother's wishes and is encountering the World, and her independence, for the first time. (Watch the clip here.) While her companion patiently waits for her to come to terms with her new-found freedom, Rapunzel goes from one extreme to the other, from excitement to shame and worry.

Esther M. Broner, 1930 - 2011

She was our spiritual leader. She made room for us at the table by creating a whole new one—a Seder table at which women’s voices were heard. She encouraged us to ask the Four Questions of Women and to recite women’s plagues, of which there were always more than 10.

Reinventing Rituals: June, a month of Pride and same-sex marriages

June is full of irony: not only is June Pride month, but it is also the unofficial start to wedding season. So many are still fighting for equal marriage. As I write this, lawmakers in Albany are struggling to garner enough votes to make same-sex marriage legal in New York state (see resources to get involved at the end of this post).

We remember Esther M. Broner

We were saddened to wake up to the news that Esther M. Broner passed away yesterday. A beloved novelist, playwright, ritualist, and feminist writer, Esther M. Broner was born on July 8, 1927, in Detroit, Michigan. Her writing, including Her Mothers (1975), A Weave of Women (1978) and many others, made her one of the most important teachers of Jewish feminism and feminist Judaism.

Eating Jewish: Charoset medley

Although most, if not all, Jewish holiday meals use certain foods and dishes to symbolize various elements of the celebration, the seder meal does so in a way that is integral to the ritual of the meal itself. From the maror to the zeroah, each has its place in the structure of the seder. Of all these symbolic foods, charoset is definitely my favorite and I have to agree with Gil Marks when he says in the Encyclopedia of Jewish Food that it “is unquestionably the most flavorful and arguably everyone’s favorite of the seder foods.”

Why, on this night, do we include women's voices?

In collaboration with JewishBoston.com, JWA are putting the finishing touches on a new Haggadah that highlights women's voices. (Keep an eye out for it next week.) As we've been thinking about seders and traditions and the different ways we could include women's voices in the Haggadah we're creating, I wanted to hear more from you about your traditions and how you include women's voices.

Savina J. Teubal, 1926 - 2005

Savina Teubal was a daughter of the conflagration that expelled Jews from the Arab world. She grew up in Argentina in what she described as a "tight-knit" and sophisticated Syrian Jewish community that celebrated learning and the preservation of tradition—for sons. Savina became her own woman as she made her way to England and then to America, applying her natural understanding of the imperative of social activism and community building to create connections in her new home. In her thirties, she began to study, and claimed as her own the Biblical legacy of her people.

Women reading Torah: Empowerment in Photos

Earlier this week, a post on The Sisterhood blog (with whom JWA regularly cross-posts) publicized a call from Women of the Wall for photographs of women with Torahs as part of a solidarity movement with WOW, who have been subject to harassment and arrest over the past several months in their attempts to hold egalitarian Rosh Chodesh services at Robinson’s Arch in Jerusalem.

Mohelot and Brit Milah: Does it matter if a woman wields the knife?

Can a woman perform a bris? Jewish scholars, even the most Orthodox, answer with a tentative “why not?” for there is no halachic (Jewish law) prohibition against mohelot – female mohels. While Jewish law states that it’s preferable for a Jewish male to perform the brit milah (circumcision) if one is present, it is not mandatory. The symbolism of a woman circumcising a man is inherently provocative, touching on questions of spirituality, nurturing mothers, and emasculation. Many men, when polled on the subject, reflexively cross their legs.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Ritual." (Viewed on September 21, 2014) <http://jwa.org/topics/ritual>.

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