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Religion

Paula Ackerman

At the turn of the twentieth century, a young girl from Pensacola, Florida, named Paula Herskovitz dreamed of one day becoming a medical doctor. Believing that the medical profession was unsuitable for women, her father insisted that she abandon her dream. Yet decades later, she embarked upon a career he no doubt would have found equally unsuitable: she became a spiritual leader.

Adah 1: Bible

According to the genealogy of Gen 4:17–19, Adah is one of the two wives of Lamech and the mother of two sons. Those sons, along with the son and daughter of her co-wife, Zillah, are in the seventh generation of naturally born human beings.

Adah 1: Midrash and Aggadah

According to the aggadic tradition, Lamech took two wives, one for sexual pleasure and the other for procreation. One wife would be in his company adorned like a harlot, and he plied her with a drug that induced barrenness, so that she would not give birth; the other sat alone, like a widow. Lamech’s behavior graphically attests to the process of spiritual decline from one generation to the next and the corruption of the Flood generation.

Adah 2: Bible

Adah, the daughter of Elon the Hittite, marries Esau, one of the two sons of Jacob and Rebekah, to whom she bears Eliphaz. Esau’s marriage to a woman outside his family’s descent line results in his exclusion from the endogamous patrilineage of Abraham’s father, Terah.

Abigail: Bible

Abigail is the wife of Nabal the Calebite from Carmel and later becomes the second wife of David. According to 1 Samuel 25, Abigail is married to Nabal, a wealthy rancher, and she is described as beautiful and intelligent.

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. She saves David from committing unnecessary bloodshed, while at the same time assuring her future.

Abishag: Bible

When King David (reigned c. 1005–965 bce) ages and his health fails, a beautiful young woman is sought throughout Israel to lie in his bosom and keep him warm. The king does not have sexual relations with Abishag (I Kgs 1:4).

Abishag: Midrash and Aggadah

Abishag is described in Rabbinic literature as a woman possessing self-respect and a mind of her own, who is not deterred from confronting King David himself.

Abortion

The chief biblical source referring to abortion is Exodus 21:22–25 concerning the man who inadvertently strikes a pregnant woman, causing her to lose the pregnancy.

Mazel Tov, Sara Hurwitz!

Yesterday, I was pleased to receive an e-mail from the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA) congratulating Sara Hurwitz "on having completed the required course of study in Yoreh Deah" to become a spiritual leader. Hurwitz presently serves as a leader of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Religion." (Viewed on January 22, 2019) <https://jwa.org/topics/religion>.

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