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Spirituality and Religious Life

Labels vs. Identity

Jewish. Feminist. Single. Religious. People are so multifaceted that labels often can’t capture the entirety of our experiences. I interviewed my great-aunt Esther about various elements of her complex identity and where they intersect; I mostly came away wondering if labels—namely “Jewish” and “feminist”—can really do our identities justice. As a Jewish, single, working woman in her 70s, I assumed my aunt would have a plethora of stories that fit a single narrative. But life is complex, and messy, and seldom fits into the boxes we create to try to make sense of it all.

Faith and Feminism

Last year I met Rabbi Jennifer Singer, I and immediately looked up to her. She’s a strong, spiritual, and independent woman who commands the room with her lively personality. She’s an excellent rabbi, and I always leave her sermons with new ideas and ways of thinking. 

My Jewish Role Model and her Humanist Role Models

You haven’t really lived until you’ve had a meal at my Aunt Roberta’s kitchen table. It’s small and made of light, grainy wood, and I really think it should be recognized as the capital of Jewish free thought. This, of course, has nothing to do with the make or model of the table, nor with the meals served on it, but has everything to do with the woman who owns it. I may be slightly biased, but Roberta Schiffer, my mother’s paternal aunt, is undoubtedly one of the most intelligent, introspective, and loving thinkers I have ever met.

Debbie Coltin: Now on Your Radar

When you google Debbie Coltin, not much comes up. If you ask her why, she’ll say it’s because she’s a private person; she’d much rather fly under the radar. But as a writer, a Jew, and a young woman, I feel that Debbie’s contributions to the North Shore Massachusetts Jewish community are too valuable to simply “fly under the radar.” Luckily, since Debbie has given me permission to share her story, they no longer have to!

Rabbi Laura Geller: Torah of Jewish Feminism

I wasn’t always easily identifiable as the Jewish feminist activist I am today. In fact, I was a Hebrew school drop-out ... but then I discovered Rabbi Laura Geller.

Call Me By Your Name: A Novel Representation of Judaism

There’s something spiritual hidden in the text of André Aciman’s 2007 novel, Call Me By Your Name, and in the experience of reading it for the first time.

L’dor Vador in Falsettoland

I walked into a dark Walter Kerr Theater. I didn’t know much about the show, but I knew Andrew Rannells was in it, which, I’m sure we can all agree, is a good enough reason to see any show. The band warmed up and the lights dimmed. Then, three men and a little boy walked on stage dressed as “Biblical Hebrews” singing, “Four Jews in a Room Bitching.” I’ve never felt more at home. 

And It Will Touch Your Heart

At the museum in that first week, between introductions and protocol and photo shoots, I finally took out my Tikkun, the book used to copy the Torah from, word for word, line for line, eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. I opened up to page two. Here were the first words of my Torah. My Torah – as if these words were mine.

והוא ימשל בך . And he will rule over you.

Creation on a Canoe Trip

This past summer I attended a three-week-long canoe trip in Western Quebec. We set out to canoe white water and live completely in nature with a handful of tents, the clothes we were wearing, heavy containers filled with dehydrated food, and four red canoes. I had no idea what I was in for, and my only expectation was to learn more about the earth, and how I’m connected to it.

L’Dor V’Dor: A Legacy of Love

My grandfather means something different to each and every person he’s met. To some, he’s kindness, always putting others before himself no matter the circumstances. To others, he’s community, building a network so wide that everyone he runs into is an old friend. To his parents, he was a miracle, not predicted to survive long past birth, or live to create all that he has in his lifetime. To me, he’s all of these things stitched together into one simple phrase: L’dor v’dor (from generation to generation).

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Spirituality and Religious Life." (Viewed on May 23, 2018) <https://jwa.org/topics/spirituality-and-religious-life>.

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