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Jewesses with Attitude

Carrying the torch

Perhaps what I love most about the Jewish tradition, about the dance of life and its cycles, is that wonderful interplay between tradition and innovation. From the time of the first temple to now, in the twenty-first century, the Jewish people have celebrated, reconciled, uplifted, and honored that tension.

I am here today, ready to do the same!

As Leah Berkenwald bids farewell to her three-year post as Online Communications Specialist and Blogger-in-Chief, I am ready to say hello . . . to greet the readers, debaters, catalyzers, and contributors who so vibrantly comprise JWA’s robust community. So, without further ado…

Hello! I’m Gabrielle Orcha, the newest member of the JWA team, ready to receive the gauntlet, carry the torch, and I do so with a mix of emotions . . .

Joy: As I approach 28.5 years, I am entering into what astrologers refer to as my “Saturn Return.” In layman’s terms: I am finding and committing to my life’s path, my life’s work; heeding what Joseph Campbell would term “the Call.” The chance to combine my love of Judaism, feminism, writing, and communicating into one unbelievable package is nothing less than a dream.

Anticipation and Trepidation: I believe I have the skills and the strengths, most definitely the passion, curiosity and tenacity to carry the mantel that Leah has so beautifully worn during her tenure at JWA; and, at the same time, during the past two weeks, as I’ve shadowed my predecessor, it has become evident that there is so much to learn and master. Proverbially, I have very large shoes to fill. Literally (and this really happened yesterday), after Leah left to start packing for her upcoming South American travel adventure, one of my co-workers, who was circling the office with a shoe box, arrived at my desk, and asked if I’d like Leah’s lovely, brown, leather shoes, still in mint condition. She’s a size 7.5, I’m a 9. We were so close to actualizing that proverbial phrase!

Faith and Conviction: I don’t know if there is a word that truly encompasses the feeling I’m trying to communicate . . . the closest phrase would be faith in oneself or self certainty, but not in a cocky way, rather in a “I have known this moment would come, and I am ready,” way. It’s a feeling that’s like:

Yes. This. Is. It.

I look forward to writing for you, conversing with you, dear JWA community! I look forward to being inspired and provoked, comforted and stoked, and bandied about by you. [The name is Gabrielle Orcha and you’re reading JWA’s Jewesses With Attitude. Let’s make these both household names!]

I am ready to receive and carry forth this very important torch, ready to keep the fires burning, as we did during the times of the temples, as we do now—in our hearts, in our writing. May this be the first of many worthy offerings.

Gabrielle Orcha is a freelance writer, choreographer, and performer. A graduate of Boston University with a B.F.A in Theatre and Dance, her work explores the intersection of dance, Judaism, feminism and poetic narrative. For an extended bio and to read her recent posts, go here.

Gabrielle Orcha
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Gabrielle Orcha, your newest "Jewess with Attitude." She's got something to say.
Leah Berkenwald's Shoes
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Leah's, my predecessor's, shoes which I will strive to fill.

How to cite this page

Orcha, Gabrielle. "Carrying the torch." 22 June 2012. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on January 16, 2017) <>.


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