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Prayer

Tkhines

Because most Jewish texts of the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries, as throughout most of Jewish history, were written in Hebrew by men for other men, we have very little direct evidence of women’s religious lives. Tkhines (Yiddish, from Hebrew tehinnot, “supplications”), private devotions and paraliturgical prayers in Yiddish, primarily for women, were published beginning in the early modern period, especially in Central and Eastern Europe and among Yiddish-speaking populations elsewhere.

Spirituality in the United States

Spirituality can be defined as life lived in the presence of God. It embraces not only traditional and formal modes of religious expression, but also more informal individual and communal efforts to remain mindful of the sacred in all aspects of experience.

Mathilde Schechter

Mathilde Roth Schechter, founder of the Women’s League For Conservative Judaism and the wife of Solomon Schechter, the well-known Jewish scholar, was born in Guttentag, a small town in Silesia, and orphaned at an early age.

Observance of Mitzvot: Custom and Halakhah

Numerous accounts scattered throughout early halakhic literature indicate that women had many traditions and customs of their own. Their religious life was characterized by a degree of independence and was not exclusively dependent on external halakhic norms. The manner in which women observed mitzvot was extremely influential in the formative stage of halakhah, before it was crystallized, recorded and sealed in the Shulhan Arukh.

Judith: Apocrypha

The Book of Judith (second or early first century b.c.e.) is an imaginative, highly fictionalized, romance that entertains as it edifies. From a literary perspective, the book is an artistic masterpiece, constructed in two parts (1:1–7:32, 8:1–16:25), with each internally ordered by a threefold chiastic pattern. Numerous correspondences between the two halves of the story provide elegant compositional symmetries. The Book of Judith is a story of balance and counter-balance that makes the point that God’s people have all they need to survive if they rely wholeheartedly on the covenant.

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, [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:373]niddah[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] (the laws governing family purity), the taking of [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:319]hallah[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] 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).

Esther: Apocrypha

The Greek version of the Hebrew Bible Book of Esther is designated Additions to Esther and pre-serves many details of the Hebrew account. Its portrayal of Esther herself, however, is appreciably different, primarily because of Additions C and D (Add Esth 13:8–14:19; 15:1–16). The Additions to Esther consist of six extended passages (107 verses) that have no counterpart in the Hebrew version. They are numbered as chaps 11–16, designated A–F, and added to the Hebrew text at various places. Another important “addition” to Greek Esther is the mention of God’s name over fifty times. This has the effect of making the story explicitly religious, in sharp contrast to the Hebrew text, which does not mention God at all. The Additions, which probably were not composed at the same time by the same person, can be dated to the second or first centuries b.c.e. because of their literary style, theology, and anti-gentile spirit.

Women's History Month Podcast Feature #2

Out from the balcony and onto the bimah! Introducing JWA's second Women's History Month podcast feature, Jewish Women and Religious Innovation. Learn how Hadassah Blocker, Sally Priesand, and Marcia Falk created religious experience on their own terms, expanding opportunities for women's religious participation in their own communities and for American Jews at large.

Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef

Of his numerous works the major one is [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:386]Responsa[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary]: Yabbia Omer (YO), the ten volumes of which contain his responsa on many subjects of Jewish law.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Prayer." (Viewed on December 16, 2018) <https://jwa.org/topics/prayer>.

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