Ritual

Content type
Collection
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.

Maya Stutman-Shaw Wearing Tefillin with a Friend at the Western Wall

My "Girl Power" Tefillin Journey: Wearing Davening Attire as a Girl

Ma'ayan Stutman-Shaw

One day, I hope to walk into an egalitarian Jewish space with my tallit on my shoulders and my kippah on my head.

Topics: Feminism, Ritual
Close up image of Shoshanah Curiel-Alessi's tie-dyed pink and purple tallit

How My Bat Mitzvah Tallit Helped Me Find My Voice

Shoshanah Curiel-Alessi

This prayer shawl was the antithesis of everything I’d told myself I was supposed to be; it challenged tradition, caught attention, and took up space.

Louise Glück

Louise Glück, American poet, essayist, and educator, is the recipient of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature, as well as numerous other awards for her writing; she also served as poet laureate of the United States from 2003 to 2004. One finds the personal, the mythological, and the Biblical woven intricately throughout Glück’s oeuvre.

Virtual High Holidays Graphic

The High Holidays Go Virtual: Three Rabbis on Jewish Ritual during a Pandemic

Elana Moscovitch

JWA talks to three rabbis about how Judaism has changed, and stayed the same, during the pandemic.

Small Shabbat candles

Grounding in Ritual: Shabbat During Coronavirus

Isabel Hoffman

Even after the hardest, most boring, or most heart-wrenching weeks, Shabbat is calmly awaiting me at the end.

Star of David at Synagogue

Keeping the Faith While Social Distancing

Jennifer Greenberg

How have Jewish rituals adapted as humanity moves indoors?

Topics: Ritual

Episode 36: Relearning to Wash Our Hands (Transcript)

Episode 36: Relearning to Wash Our Hands (Transcript)

Episode 36: Relearning to Wash Our Hands

We're facing a global pandemic, the likes of which most of us have never lived through. In these unsettling days, community healer and spiritual leader Dori Midnight brings us this prayer for relearning to wash our hands. We hope this poem helps you find the thread of love in this tangle of anxiety.

Tarot cards

Divination: It’s More Jewish Than You Think

Sophie Hurwitz

These days, everyone at my college seems to be interested in tarot card reading.

Topics: Ritual
Tiffany Shlain with "Technology Shabbats" sign

Tech Shabbat: Seeing the Light

Tiffany Shlain

Author Tiffany Shlain shares lessons she's learned from practicing "Tech Shabbat" for over 10 years.

Topics: Ritual, Non-Fiction
old television

Sitting Shiva for TV

Ilana Diamant

To lose a character to death or a show to the fickle whims of network executives is devastating.

Topics: Television, Ritual
Mezuzah mounted on wooden door frame. Scroll visible, in a test tube-like vial corked on light blue wood decorated with pomegranates and Star of Davids.

My Matriarchal Mezuzah

Eleanor Harris

Inhaling the sweet scents of Nachalat Binyamin in Tel Aviv, I searched for the perfect new mezuzah. 

Topics: Family, Israel, Ritual
Rising Voices Fellow Emma Cohn with father

How Jewish Are You?

Emma Cohn

I have spent the last year learning that we are all at different places in our Jewish education; we have all had different sets of experiences. And they are all valid.

Phonetic Spelling of Privilege

Privilege and the Chosen People

Ava Berkwits

I feel as if I won the lottery by being born Jewish, as so many of my most cherished memories and values are inherently tied to this part of my identity. As proud as I am of my Jewish identity, I’ve always been troubled by one of the fundamental ideas in Judaism: that Jews are “the chosen people.”

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