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Ritual

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.

Tu B'Av and the Question of Gendered Rituals

Yesterday marked Tu B’Av, the 15th day of the month of Av, a minor Jewish holiday that Wikipedia tells me has become a Jewish equivalent to Valentine’s Day, in that it is an auspicious day for holding weddings and perhaps meeting a romantic partner. The part about weddings makes sense: Tu B’Av comes only 6 after the fast day of Tisha B’Av, and many Jews avoid holding weddings during either the three weeks or the nine days leading up to the fast, since they are considered mournful times. So, we’ve had a dearth of weddings in our community, Tisha B’Av passes, and after so much sadness, a wedding is something to look forward to. But meeting a partner on Tu B’Av? Where is the logic in that?

Moving Inward: bringing liberation movements into the Jewish community

Act out, through tableaux vivants, the ways Jews took what they had learned from the Civil Rights Movement and other liberation movements and used these insights to change the Jewish community.

Mikveh Dreams

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately about niddah, or the laws having to do with a women’s monthly immersion in the mikveh (this is what happens when you run a Jewish blog---you read a lot of random things). I am no expert on this issue---far from it---but I think it’s a really interesting topic, and something that more women should be aware of, especially in light of the battle over mikvaot that is going on in some communities in Israel right now. 

Gendering at Birth: the Bris and the Baby Naming

I consider myself fortunate to take Gender Studies as my English literature class during my final semester of high school.

Mayyim Hayyim, a progressive community mikveh, opens

May 14, 2004

Mayyim Hayyim, a progressive community mikveh and education center in Newton, Massachusetts, opened its doors.

Amy Eilberg ordained as first female Conservative rabbi

May 12, 1985

Amy Eilberg became the first woman ordained as a Conservative Rabbi at the Jewish Theological Seminary's commencement exercises in New York City.

Judith Kaplan celebrates first American Bat Mitzvah ceremony

March 18, 1922

Judith Kaplan (Eisenstein) became the first American Bat Mitzvah.

The New York Times reports on naming ceremonies for Jewish girls

March 14, 1977

The New York Times reported on the emergence of formal naming ceremonies for newborn Jewish girls.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Ritual." (Viewed on December 19, 2014) <http://jwa.org/topics/ritual>.

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