Motherhood

Content type
Collection

Rebekah: Midrash and Aggadah

Rebekah, one of the four Matriarchs, is characterized by the Rabbis as a prophet and a righteous woman.

Rachel: Midrash and Aggadah

Rachel is depicted in the Torah as Jacob’s beautiful and beloved wife. The midrash portrays Rachel as a prophetess, and her statements and the names she gave her sons contain allusions to the future. Rachel’s merit continued to aid Israel even many years after her demise.

Philanthropy in the United States

Jewish law and custom, secular culture, and economic and social roles have shaped Jewish women’s involvement in philanthropic activities. Although the term is often associated with the beneficence of the wealthy, philanthropy refers to a broad range of activities—giving time as well as giving money—that are intended to enhance the quality of life in a community or a society.

Peninnah: Bible

Peninnah represents a woman who accepts social paradigms without examining them, thus acting out the type of jealousy between co-wives known from the matriarchal texts of Genesis. Unlike the fecund second wives in Genesis, Peninnah has no voice in the text and is mentioned only in three capacities: as second wife to Elkanah, as mother of an unspecified number of daughters and sons, and as tormentor of Hannah.

Peninnah: Midrash and Aggadah

In its depiction of Elkanah’s two wives, the Bible contrasts Peninnah, who had children, and Hannah, who was barren. The Rabbis state that Hannah was Elkanah’s first wife; after they had been married for ten years, and he saw that Hannah bore him no children, he also took Peninnah as a wife (Pesikta Rabbati 43). The midrash explains that Elkanah was compelled to marry Peninnah because of Hannah’s barrenness, which explains his preference for Hannah, his first wife.

Orphanages in the United States

Significant numbers of American Jews spent major portions of their childhoods in Jewish orphanages. Moreover, the institutions’ influence reached beyond the youngsters themselves to their parents and relatives, as well as to staff members and those who supported the institutions financially and otherwise.

National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods

In 1913, the women of Reform Judaism, who were organized in independent, local synagogue sisterhoods founded in the 1890s and 1900s, united to create a national organization of women dedicated to religion. Reform Jewish women joined the American women of the era who established a host of voluntary associations to further various social and communal agendas.

National Council of Jewish Women

When the National Council of Jewish Women was founded in 1893, it was the first national organization in history to unite Jewish women to promote the Jewish religion. That its commitment to preserve Jewish heritage in a quickly modernizing America would be fraught with contradictions was not readily apparent in the optimistic surroundings of the World Parliament of Religions, convened as part of the Chicago World Exposition.

Naomi: Midrash and Aggadah

The midrash is generally quite positive in its appraisal of Naomi, who is called “a righteous woman” in various places, and is included among the upright women outstanding in their righteousness with whom Israel was blessed throughout the generations (Ozar ha-Midrashim [Eisenstein], p. 474).

Naomi: Bible

The Book of Ruth is one of two in the Hebrew Bible that bears a woman’s name (the other is Esther). Ruth depicts the struggles of Naomi and Ruth for survival in a patriarchal environment.

Morocco: Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

The female gender roles and status of Moroccan Jewish women during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were influenced by a patriarchal order, by Jewish religious writings and their interpretations by local rabbis, and by the surrounding Muslim society, which was often hostile to the Jewish communities.

Jochebed: Bible

Jochebed, wife of Amram and mother of Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, is mentioned by name only in Exod 6:20 and Num 26:59, both genealogical listings. The narrative in Exodus 2 about Moses’ birth introduces her, without providing her name, as a member of the priestly tribe Levi; she marries a Levitical man, also unnamed here.

Jochebed: Midrash and Aggadah

The midrash portrays Jochebed as a wise woman who was righteous and God-fearing. By merit of her good deeds, she gave birth to the three leaders of the Exodus generation: Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.

Holocaust Survivors: Rescue and Resettlement in the United States

They had made it through World War II and now they were coming to America, 140,000 strong. The women, along with the men, had survived the rigors of the ghettos, the horrors of the concentration camps, the final agony of the death marches. They had been in hiding, or fighting with the partisans. They had escaped to the Soviet Union, some to Shanghai. And even after the war, they had been penned into displaced persons camps, in a holding pattern, waiting for a place to live, determined to get out of Europe. Now America was finally opening its doors, the doors that had been so tightly guarded during the war and, before, in the 1930s. And the American Jewish community was about to shoulder a responsibility that would sorely test its resources, commitment, and understanding.

Hannah: Midrash and Aggadah

Hannah is depicted by the Rabbis as a righteous woman who was devout in her observance of the commandments, especially those of pilgrimage to the Tabernacle, Menstruation; the menstruant woman; ritual status of the menstruant woman.niddah (the laws governing family purity), the taking of During the Temple period, the dough set aside to be given to the priests. In post-Temple times, a small piece of dough set aside and burnt. In common parlance, the braided loaves blessed and eaten on the Sabbath and Festivals.hallah from dough, and the kindling of the Sabbath lights.

Hannah: Bible

The narrative in 1 Samuel 1–2, in which Hannah is protagonist, is set in the late premonarchic period (eleventh century b.c.e.). It opens obliquely with the introduction of her husband, Elkanah, who is identified by name, location, and extensive genealogy. Elkanah’s two wives conclude the exposition, and they are presented without genealogy. The significance of the women lies in their relationship to Elkanah and in their childbearing capacity: “The name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children” (1:2).

Hagar: Midrash and Aggadah

The Rabbis present Hagar, Sarah’s Egyptian handmaiden, as an Egyptian princess whom Pharaoh king of Egypt gave to Sarah as a gift. She grew up in the home of Abraham and Sarah, and converted. Sarah initially had to persuade Hagar to marry Abraham (to compensate for her own barrenness), but Hagar quickly became accustomed to her new status, taking advantage of it in order to vex Sarah and disparage her in the eyes of others. The A type of non-halakhic literary activitiy of the Rabbis for interpreting non-legal material according to special principles of interpretation (hermeneutical rules).midrash tells that Abraham grew close to Hagar and ceased viewing her as a handmaiden. He heeded his wife as regards Hagar, but he also took care not to harm the latter. Sarah, in contrast, treated her handmaiden harshly and abused her in various ways, causing her to flee to the wilderness. Hagar is depicted by the Rabbis as being strongly influenced by the atmosphere in the house of Abraham and Sarah. She became accustomed to seeing angels and therefore was not alarmed when an angel of the Lord was revealed to her at Beer-lahai-roi. The spiritual level of Sarah’s handmaiden was higher than that of people from later generations (see below, the comparison with Manoah).

Hagar: Bible

Hagar is Sarai’s Egyptian slave girl, whom Sarai (later Sarah) gives to Abram (later Abraham) as a wife who would bear a child that would be considered Sarai’s (Gen 16:3). Although it bears a resemblance to modern technological surrogate motherhood, this custom may seem bizarre. However, cuneiform texts of the second and first millennia b.c.e. attest to this custom in ancient Mesopotamia.

Haganah

Although there has been much academic interest in assorted aspects of the history of the Haganah, the subject of women in that organization has not yet merited an in-depth study, despite the considerable contribution of women in the Haganah during the struggle to establish the State of Israel. The present article is based on interviews conducted with some thirty women from various sectors of the population, who were active in the Haganah. The overall treatment of the various orientations among the women stems, among other things, from the information that emerged from these interviews.

Eve: Midrash and Aggadah

The Rabbis view Eve, the first woman, as embodying the qualities of all women, and of femininity in general. As God’s handiwork, she is portrayed as the most beautiful woman who ever lived, and there was no fairer creature but her husband Adam. The midrashim about her exude an air of primacy: the first mating between Adam and Eve is described as a magnificent wedding, and their first intercourse aroused the serpent’s jealousy. The primal sin is generally symbolic of man’s sins, and through it the Rabbis seek to clarify why men trespass. The depiction of the woman’s creation leads the Rabbis to inquire into gender differences and the nature of the female sex, all through the eyes of the male Rabbis. They discuss woman’s different temperament, her mental maturity, her habits, the physical shape of her body, her behavior, and other aspects of female existence. The Rabbis attempt to provide an explanation for gender differences by means of a portrayal of woman’s different creation, and also as being a result of the sin of the Garden of Eden. Eve’s punishment is examined at length in the dicta of the Rabbis, who exhibit a certain degree of empathy in their ability to describe women’s suffering during the first three months of pregnancy, during birth, in instances of miscarriage, the pain of raising children, that of menstrual periods and other afflictions.

Elisheba: Bible

Daughter of Amminadav, sister of Nahson, Elisheba is the wife of the high priest Aaron and the mother of four sons, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.

Deborah 1: Midrash and Aggadah

Rebekah’s nurse Deborah died when Jacob was on his way to the Land of Canaan, close to Bethel. She is mentioned by name only once in the Torah she-bi-khetav: Lit. "the written Torah." The Bible; the Pentateuch; Tanakh (the Pentateuch, Prophets and Hagiographia)Torah, in Gen. 35:8, in the description of her burial under an oak tree that was named “Allon-bacuth [the oak of the weeping].” Deborah is also mentioned, anonymously, in Gen. 24:59, when she accompanied Rebekah on the latter’s journey to the Land of Canaan to wed Isaac: “So they sent off their sister Rebekah and her nurse,” as was fitting for a wealthy and distinguished family that retained a nurse.

Wise Woman of Tekoa: Bible

Tekoa—a Judean hill country village ten miles south of Jerusalem—was home to one of two women designated as “wise,” both appearing in 2 Samuel.

Two Prostitutes: Bible

Immediately after he requests that God grant him “an understanding mind to govern your people” (1 Kgs 3:9), King Solomon (reigned c. 968–928 b.c.e.) is confronted by two prostitutes and their enigmatic case.

Two Prostitutes as Mothers: Midrash and Aggadah

The Rabbis learned from the judgment of Solomon how a trial is to be conducted.

Subscribe to Motherhood

Donate

Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

The JWA Podcast

Can We Talk?

listen now

Get JWA in your inbox