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Ben Ish Hai

The Ben Ish-Hai, R. Joseph Hayyim b. Elijah, was a well-known Baghdadi Torah scholar. He wrote many responsa and halakhic books, which included his rulings on women’s halakhot.

Bathsheba: Midrash and Aggadah

As in the Bible, Bathsheba plays a secondary role in the midrashim about her husband, King David, and her son, King Solomon. The rabbis view her as a righteous, guiltless woman, both during David’s life and as an advisor to Solomon.

Bathsheba: Bible

Bathsheba is the married woman whom King David takes in adultery and who, though initially passive, becomes the pivotal figure in his downfall. The king has Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, slain in battle and then takes her as a wife. While her first child, conceived in adultery, dies, the second, Solomon, becomes heir to the throne as a consequence of Bathsheba’s maneuverings.

Baraita de-Niddah

A rabbinic text about the ritual laws relating to menstruation, Baraita de-Niddah has a mysterious origin and an unknown impact on the interpretation of Jewish law about menstruation.

Baghdadi Jewish Women in India

Baghdadi Jews arrived in India in the late eighteenth century and ultimately formed important diaspora communities in Bombay and Calcutta. Many notable Baghdadi Indian women were involved in philanthropy, Jewish and Zionist organizations, education, and film acting.


Babatha, daughter of Shim’on, a Jewish landowner who lived in Roman Arabia, owned a document archive found in a cave in the Judaean desert. Babatha’s archive is an extremely important resource for many issues, especially on the question of Jewish women’s legal position in Greco-Roman Palestine during the second century CE.

Ba'alei Ha-Nefesh

Ba’alei Ha-Nefesh is a halakhic work written by Rabbi Abraham ben David (Rabad) of Posquieres, a Provençal rabbi, in 1180. It focuses on the laws of behavior during niddah (menstruation), and lays out Rabad’s theology of self-control, sexuality, and the role of Jewish women.

Assimilation in the United States: Twentieth Century

Jewish women assimilating into a changing American society across the twentieth century navigated often conflicting gender roles. As they strove to achieve upward social mobility, they adapted Jewish assumptions of what women, especially married women, should do to accommodate American norms for middle class women. Their collective accomplishments registered in political activism, organizational creativity, strong support for feminism, religious innovation, and educational achievement in the face of antisemitism, stereotypes, and denigration.

Argentina: Sephardic Women

Argentina’s Sephardic community included Jews from all over the Sephardi diaspora. Immigrant women often worked alongside their fathers or husbands in general stores, as well as doing household chores and raising children. As Sephardic communities became more established, women’s educational opportunities expanded, and women played important roles in philanthropy and Zionism.

Akiva, Rabbi

Rabbi Akiva was an important interpreter and teacher of Jewish laws of the Tannaitic period (ca. first-third century C.E.). He was particularly groundbreaking in his teachings regarding women’s standing and sexual and marital relations, recognizing women as deserving of human dignity.

Rachel Adler

Rachel Adler is unquestionably among the leading constructive Jewish theologians, translators, and liturgists of the modern era. One of the first theologians and ethicists to integrate feminist perspectives and concerns into the interpretation of Jewish texts and the renewal of Jewish law and ethics, Adler is the award-winning author of Engendering Judaism.

Adah 1: Midrash and Aggadah

Adah was one of Lamech’s wives whose legacy was observable not only in her own children but also in her influence on her fellow Israelites.

Abishag: Midrash and Aggadah

Abishag’s story in the Bible shows her strength and independence, as she insists David marry her and rebukes his answer when he refuses. Some midrashim use her story to show David’s tenacity in his old age, but Abishag is not explicitly interpreted as wicked or deceitful.

Abigail: Midrash and Aggadah

The Rabbis depict Abigail as a wise and practical woman, capable of acting at the right moment and in the right way. Instead of being based on political or economic considerations, her and David’s marriage was motivated by love and mutual appreciation. Furthermore, Abigail saves David from committing unnecessary bloodshed, while at the same time assuring her future.

Abigail: Bible

Abigail, the intelligent and beautiful wife of the wealthy but boorish Nabal, intervenes to prevent David from committing a bloodbath and eventually becomes one of David’s wives (1 Samuel 25). She prophesies that David will establish a dynasty, but neither she nor her son play a role in future struggles over rule or succession.

Jewish and Muslim Marriage Contracts get a Facelift

Lily Rabinoff-Goldman

The ketubah, the Jewish marriage contract, is one of the oldest continuously used documents within Judaism.  That said, over the course of the past thirty years or so, many ketubahs have undergone a makeover so that rather than simply act as a business document that lists the items in the bride's trousseau and the amount of zuzim (silver pieces) that the groom has to set aside for her well-being, many contemporary ketubahs reflect the equal partnership that the marrying couple are entering in to.

Topics: Marriage

275 Years of Anxiety about Assimilation

Lily Rabinoff-Goldman

Never in my relatively short life do I remember a time where there wasn't a sense of urgency, even panic, in the American Jewish community around intermarriage and Jewish continuity. 

Topics: Marriage

How do we value women's work?

Lily Rabinoff-Goldman

Jewish Women Watching, the “anonymous, rabble-rousing, feminist collective,” performed an action this weekend in honor of Shavuot (a holiday once celebrated by bringing the first fruits of the spring harvest to the temple in Jerusalem).

Topics: Feminism, Marriage

The American Jewess: Jewish Weddings in 1898

Lily Rabinoff-Goldman

It's June. Wedding season is officially upon us, and with it, a return to our feature on The American Jewess after a brief hiatus.

Topics: Marriage, Journalism

The Newsweek Article That Struck Terror

Michelle Cove

Newsweek just retracted its 1986 cover article “The Marriage Crunch,” which claimed that a 40-year-old, single, white, college-educated woman was “more likely to be killed by a terrorist than to marry.” Retraction? Are you kidding?!

Topics: Marriage, Journalism

I Choose to Play the Vacuum . . .

Michelle Cove

This morning I checked out an interview in What is Enlightenment?, which featured two Orthodox women discussing “the Jewish view of femininity.” One was Esther Kosovsky, the Director of the Jewish Educational Resource Center in western Massachusetts, who is also the wife of a rabbi, mom to eight, and daughter of Rabbi David Edelman, leader of the Lubavitch Orthodox congregation in western Massachusetts.


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