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Judaism

Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte, Gertie, and Me

When I was still pretty small—in first grade, or maybe kindergarten—someone gave me a book for my birthday. This wasn’t an unusual event; I’ve received more books as presents in my seventeen years than I think most people end up owning in their entire lifetime. What was unusual was that this book was by a Jewish woman, and about Jewish girls, like me. 

The Dangerous Gift

What got my attention wasn’t the writing, though it does connect us. I wasn’t drawn in by the poetry or the Judaism or any of the other traits I share with this woman. No, what caught my eye was the measles. Grace Aguilar: British/Jewish novelist, poet extraordinaire, religious writer, social historian, and liturgist; and I wanted to write about her because of the measles. 

Politics and My Dual Identity

I love to listen to other people’s perspectives, and jump in only when I feel that staying silent isn’t an option. When I’m passionate about something, I can temporarily push my introverted nature aside, and speak up.

Honey and Hanukah: How Food Justice has shaped my Judaism

Food and food justice had always been something that my family and I were passionate about, so I decided that for my Bat Mitzvah project, I would found a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program at my temple. CSA is a system in which customers pay a deposit in exchange for weekly bags of fresh vegetables, giving farmers more financial security, and the customer a steady supply of healthy, environmentally friendly, and in-season produce. 

The Cleveland Jew’s Dilemma

Nearly 200 years ago, residents of the West Side of Cleveland destroyed the bridge that connected the banks of the Cuyahoga river, separating themselves from East Cleveland, and intending to become their own city. Since then, we’ve built a new bridge and stayed a single city, but we still haven’t gotten over our differences. East Siders think that West Siders are blue-collar conservatives who have failed to build up their communities. West Siders think that East Siders are snobby, rich, white people who never leave their suburban bubble. 

Secular Bat Mitzvahs? Yes, they do exist!

When I was in 7th grade, all of my Jewish friends complained about having to memorize Torah portions and prayers for their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. I had a Bat Mitzvah too, but mine was secular and didn't include these traditional elements. My secular ceremony was different than any other Bar or Bat Mitzvah, and that is what made it so special to me. 

Binding My Religious and Feminist Identities Together

I started wearing tefillin at camp. I was fourteen and I had a lot of ideas about overthrowing patriarchal Judaism, and I thought it looked cool. Tefillin are traditionally worn only by Jewish men who have reached bar mitzvah age (thirteen), although Conservative and Reform Judaism, some of the more liberal sects of Judaism, are very accepting of women wrapping as well. 

My Jewish Feminist Roots and The Fruit of My Mother’s Labor

My mother struggled her whole life to bring her love of Judaism and her expectation of gender equality together. I was raised on the foundation that she had worked tirelessly to build. 

A Pluralistic Girl in a Non-Pluralistic City

As a vocal feminist, you might expect me to get upset at various sites in Israel, such as the Kotel, because women are not treated equally to men. On the contrary, I tend to forgive these characteristics that go against my personal values, and instead embrace the spiritual and Jewish aspects to which I can connect. However, I broke this trend on a Shabbat trip to Tsfat, one of the holiest cities in the country with one of the most observant populations. 

Finding A Community

Such is the life of a Rising Voices Fellow.  Late nights full of soul searching and edited drafts covered in red. Going to sleep feeling like your latest piece is worse than your third grade diary, and waking up realizing it’s halfway decent. But it’s not just about the writing. 

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Judaism." (Viewed on January 19, 2017) <https://jwa.org/topics/judaism>.

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