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Ritual

Torah Study

The commandment of Torah study is a positive Biblical precept.

Tkhines

Because most Jewish texts of the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries, as throughout most of Jewish history, were written in Hebrew by men for other men, we have very little direct evidence of women’s religious lives. Tkhines (Yiddish, from Hebrew tehinnot, “supplications”), private devotions and paraliturgical prayers in Yiddish, primarily for women, were published beginning in the early modern period, especially in Central and Eastern Europe and among Yiddish-speaking populations elsewhere.

Spirituality in the United States

Spirituality can be defined as life lived in the presence of God. It embraces not only traditional and formal modes of religious expression, but also more informal individual and communal efforts to remain mindful of the sacred in all aspects of experience.

Sex

The rabbinic discourse of sex has been at one and the same time both empowering and sharply disabling for women. In constraining all women to be wives and mothers, the possibilities for women’s lives have been severely constrained and to a great extent women’s roles have been denigrated as well.

Observance of Mitzvot: Custom and Halakhah

Numerous accounts scattered throughout early halakhic literature indicate that women had many traditions and customs of their own. Their religious life was characterized by a degree of independence and was not exclusively dependent on external halakhic norms. The manner in which women observed mitzvot was extremely influential in the formative stage of halakhah, before it was crystallized, recorded and sealed in the Shulhan Arukh.

Mikveh

The mikveh is a ritual bath designed for the Jewish rite of purification. The mikveh is not merely a pool of water; it must be composed of stationary, not flowing, waters and must contain a certain percentage of water derived from a natural source, such as a lake, an ocean, or rain.

Maimonides

Rabbi Moses ben Maimon ([jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:383]Rambam[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary]) was born in Cordova, Spain in 1138 and died in Fostat (old Cairo), Egypt in 1204. During his lifetime he traveled with his family from Spain to Fez, Morocco, where he studied medicine and practiced as a physician, and from there to [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:309]Erez Israel[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary], finally settling in Egypt, where he became the leader of the community. Maimonides’s vast legal and philosophical writings touch on many topics related to women and their status. Some of his restrictive and negative attitudes seem deeply influenced by the surrounding Muslim culture and women’s socio-economic status within that society. However, his strong philosophical rationalist belief system enabled him also to see women as beings with spiritual potential and at times motivated him to defend and improve their legal rights.

Bat Mitzvah revolutions and evolutions

Judith Kaplan (Eisenstein) made history 87 years ago today when she became the first American to celebrate a Bat Mitzvah. As the daughter of an innovative rabbi - Mordechai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism- she benefited from his belief in egalitarianism and his willingness to challenge tradition.

Women's Tefillah Movement

Orthodox women’s [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:419]tefillah[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] (prayer) groups consist of women who wish to maximize women’s participation in communal prayer while remaining within the [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:317]halakhic[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] parameters of the Orthodox community, and so meet regularly to conduct prayer services for women only.

Turkey: Ottoman and Post Ottoman

In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, far-reaching changes took place in the Ottoman Empire in the political, social and geopolitical spheres.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Ritual." (Viewed on October 22, 2014) <http://jwa.org/topics/ritual>.

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