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Jewish Holidays

Celebrating Women’s Seders vs. Celebrating Women at the Seder

I have always found women’s seders perplexing, ever since my mother first dragged me to one when I was a teenager. To me, Passover is a family holiday, and it felt wrong to exclude half of our family from the celebration. I also didn’t understand why, instead of telling the story of the Exodus, we toasted Bella Abzug and Henrietta Szold.

Co-Parenting Hannukah-Style at Christmas: A Mom’s Eye View

My first Hanukkah as a single mom was lucky. My play A Body of Water was in rehearsal for its New York debut and I was traveling back and forth from Minnesota. I celebrated some nights with my son Josh at home in St. Paul and traveled to New York for others while Josh stayed with his dad. So instead of brooding about being a single mother on nights I would have been alone, I was preoccupied by rehearsals. Easy-peasy. For a while.

Icons for the New Year: Ray Frank

While seeking stories of transformation this holiday season, most of the tales that have caught my attention involved women who exchanged quiet domestic lives for active involvement in the public sphere. Ray Frank did the opposite: she swapped her life as a trailblazing Jewish leader for one away from the spotlight.

This Shavuot, I’m Ditching the Cheesy Recipes

I feel a certain amount of discomfort in posting on JWA’s blog the glowing, cheerful recipes so common this time of year. As a Jewish organization that focuses on women’s history and feminism, what does it mean to fill our blog with recipes for baked goods and brisket? Though we boast an increasingly robust number of male readers, JWA reaches mainly women. Do I want to bombard them with tips for cooking for a large family during the holidays? No, not really.

How and Why We Remember

The people of a certain culture devote an entire week of each year to commemorating one of the worst parts of their history. They taste bitter things to appreciate the suffering of their ancestors. They consciously abstain from consuming bread to remind themselves what was eatenor rather, what was not eaten. They mourn the deaths of their ancient oppressors. They drink the metaphorical tears of their forefathers and foremothers. And year after year after year, they gather around tables to recount the suffering and the humiliation and the turmoil of their own people.

Propelled into the New Year

Early in the 20th century, Jewish New Year card manufacturers began embellishing their cards with airplanes. They did so for three interrelated reasons: to call attention to the thrilling, modern invention of the airplane, to draw an analogy between the New Year and this new means of travel, and to use the airplane to highlight the changing status of women. Airplane pictures mirrored the tremendous emigration from Eastern Europe to the West in the early part of the 20th century and were a symbol of progress and modernity.  

Vashti, Purim, and Women's History Month

I have a vague recollection of the first time I learned about Vashti. I was sitting at circle time on a primary-colored rug in my pre-K class at Sunday school and was told, “Vashti was not nice to the King. She would not dance for the King.” And we all just nodded our heads in sympathy for King Ahashuarus. “Poor King.” We all thought, “Vashti is evil.”

Lilly Rivlin

Lilly Rivlin has used her skills as a historian and documentary filmmaker to capture Jewish history in the making.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Jewish Holidays." (Viewed on June 18, 2018) <https://jwa.org/topics/jewish-holidays>.

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