Ritual

Content type
Collection
Photograph of Hanukkah candles outdoors collaged on a dark pink background

Celebrating My Patrilineal Jewish Identity with Hanukkah

Ava Weinstein

I wondered, and still do, why it is that I can’t be accepted as a “real Jew” everywhere I go.

Topics: Hanukkah, Ritual, Schools

Episode 84: Modern Loss with Rebecca Soffer

For a long time, Rebecca Soffer, co-founder of the website Modern Loss, had been planning to write a guide to coping with grief. Then the pandemic hit, and the need felt especially urgent. So she wrote The Modern Loss Handbook: An Interactive Guide to Moving Through Grief and Building Resilience. The book came out earlier this year. In this episode of Can We Talk?, we speak with Rebecca about all things grief-related: trigger days, bespoke holidays, Jewish grief rituals, and what to say—and not to say—to someone in mourning. 

Noa Karidi at her bat mitzvah collaged on a blue watercolor background

Honoring the Women of the Wall With My Tallit

Noa Karidi

By choosing this tallit, I am honoring the hard work of other women that allowed me to go through this process.

Collage of torah scroll, tallit fringes, and raised fists on a pink background

With My Tallit, Becoming a Jewish Woman

Tessa Cooperstein

There is a point of tension for me in both being valued in the Jewish community and being devalued by the Torah’s discussion and treatment of women. Owning my own tallit reminded me that I am valued twice.

Collage of candlesticks on a stack of books with a light purple background

Setting My Feminist Intentions with Shabbat

Olivia Gnad

When I unfold my little silver candle holder and light the flames, I bring in the light of a commitment to practicing my Judaism alongside my feminism.

Blue kiddush cup on dark blue patterned background

How My Kiddush Cup Inspired Me to Celebrate

Maya Viswanathan

Even though Kiddush has traditionally been done by men and I was just a girl, I took it upon myself to make Kiddush each week. 

Episode 82: When Jewish Women Talked to the Dead

In this season of ghosts and haunted houses, we’re taking you back to a time when communicating with the dead was a popular way to spend an evening. Séances were the main practice of the spiritualist movement, which is based on the belief that when people die, they survive as spirits, and that we can talk to these spirits with the help of a medium. The movement had its heyday in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and Jews all over the world, from London to Brooklyn to Cairo, were at the forefront. Scholar Sam Glauber-Zimra explains why spiritualism had such appeal among Jews, what rabbis had to say about it, and why Jewish women were prominent as mediums. 

Collage of shelf and candles on blue background

L’dor V’dor: How Ritual Plays into Grief

Judy Ruden

This is how we grieve: crying, laughing, brisket and Yahrzeit candles. Again and again and again.

Photographs of Miriam Niestat, her family, and a loom collaged on woven green background

Weaving My Asymmetrical Jewish Identity

Miriam Niestat

My uncle had the idea that maybe I could weave a tallis of my own. But I didn’t want it to somehow invalidate my bat mitzvah.

Topics: Crafts, Family, Ritual

Episode 81: Linke Fligl Ends With Love

On a hot, humid day in late August, Nahanni Rous joined a gathering at Linke Fligl, a queer Jewish chicken farm and cultural organizing project in New York's Hudson Valley. (Linke Fligl is a pun—Yiddish for "left wing.") For the past seven years, queer Jews have celebrated holidays, farmed, and built community on this ten-acre, off-the-grid piece of land—but the project is coming to a close. In this episode of Can We Talk?, we walk the land at Linke Fligl, talk to people at the final gathering, and hear from founder Margot Seigle about how the project started and why it's ending.

Outlined drawings of hamsa, pomegranate, and candles over blue background with pens

Writing My Jewish Magical Realism

Sofia Isaias-Day

My two identities and their literary traditions, Torah and magical realism, work together to shape my writing style.

Topics: Fiction, Ritual
Close up of hands holding Miriam's Cup

A New Year Ritual for Reproductive Justice

Steph Black

I created this handwashing ritual to ground us and to prepare us for the abortion rights fight that lies ahead. 

Cover of Uncultured book and co-authors of book

During Shmita, Finally Learning to Let Go

Brandi Larsen

In the year after co-writing a memoir, also the year of shmita, I learned how to let go of my failures and begin anew. 

Row of women dancing with backs to camera

Tu B’Av is More than “Jewish Valentine’s Day”

Catherine Horowitz

Let’s return to the holiday’s roots: female empowerment and connection.

Israel holds its first ever public bsisa, a women-centered Tunisian Jewish ritual

April 1, 2014

On Rosh Chodesh Nisan, Tunisian and Libyan Jewish families perform the ritual of bsisa. The ritual serves as a bridge between the holidays of Purim and Passover and commemorates the building of the mishkan (tabernacle). On April 1, 2014, Israel’s first ever public bsisa was held at the First Station in Jerusalem. Israelis from Tunisia and Libya, as well as the general Israeli public, attended the event.

Episode 79: Word of the Week: Eshet Chayil

 "A woman of valor, who can find? Her worth is far beyond rubies..." So begins a 22-verse acrostic poem from the Book of Proverbs. The poem showers praise on an unnamed woman of valor—eshet chayil, in Hebrew—and is sung in some Jewish families on Friday night before the Shabbat meal. In the final installment of our Word of the Week series, we talk with Rena Nickerson, Miriam Anzovin and Rachel Stomel about the meaning of Eshet Chayil today and their memories of singing it growing up.

Collage of Outlined Abstract Images: Face with Tear Drop, Candlesticks, Challah

Grief Made Me an Outsider, but Shabbat Drew Me In: How Judaism Helps Me Make Sense of Loss

Amelia Posner-Hess

Shabbat at synagogue was the one place where my grief belonged, where I belonged, after my my dad died. 

Photo of writer's grandmother as a child on left; grandmother and writer on right

My Jewish Grandma’s Christmas Pierogis

Marissa Wojcik

With each handcrafted pierogi, my grandma honors her husband's traditions while holding on to her strong Jewish identity. 

Savoy Curry Making Cholent

Love Your Crockpot? You Have Cholent to Thank for its Existence.

Savoy Curry

Without cholent, the crockpot might never have been invented.

Photo Collage of Amelia Posner-Hess reading Torah at her Bat Mitzvah

Wrapped in the Tallit of Jewish Matriarchs

Amelia Posner-Hess

My prayer shawl, which is titled “The Garden of Eden,” was designed specifically for Women of the Wall.

Episode 65: Regendering the Torah

Yael Kanarek wanted a more direct relationship with the Divine than she experienced through male-centric Jewish sacred texts-- so she rewrote the Torah.  In Toratah, or Her Torah, Yael has switched the genders of each character.  The result is a familiar text that resonates very differently, with a new set of matriarchs and patriarchs, and stories that draw new connections and pose new questions.

Anita Diamant

Anita Diamant is a novelist, feminist, and liberal Jew who has written five novels, the best known of which is The Red Tent (1997), made into an American television miniseries (2014). She is the author of many books Jewish self-help books, the best known of which is The New Jewish Wedding. She is the founding president of Mayyim Hayyim, the Living Waters Community Mikveh and Education Center.

Ministering Women and Their Mirrors

Women who ministered at the entrance of the Tabernacle gathered around to donate their copper mirrors (Exodus 38:8), which were then smelted down to make the basin where the priests would wash before entering the sanctuary. The women may have served as guards, warding off evil with their mirrors. Midrash, however, conjectures that the women used these mirrors to seduce their husbands in Egypt, raising up the hosts of Israelites.

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