Spirituality and Religious Life

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Collection

Episode 86: Fat Torah with Minna Bromberg

It all started at a preschool Hanukkah party a few years ago. That's when an offhand remark led Rabbi Minna Bromberg to start Fat Torah, a project to end fat stigma in Jewish communal life. In this episode of Can We Talk?, Judith Rosenbaum speaks with Minna in her home in Jerusalem about how fatphobia plays out in Israel versus the US, the ways it intersects with gender, and how Jewish tradition can teach us to be more body positive. 

Outlined drawing of high heels and Jewish stars on bright purple background

Finding My Hineni

Rosie Yanowitch

Hineni invites you to confront your own presence, and its unique and vital impact it has on any given point in time.

Outlined drawings of New York City skyline, Star of David necklace, and subway cars

Wearing My Star of David Necklace, Loud and Proud

Nora Auburn

The thought of wearing something that declared my Judaism felt strange.

Needlepointed tallit bag with hamsa on orange background

Stitching My Tallit Bag, Stitching My Identity

Clara Sorkin

With my grandmother and my mom in mind, I chose a design for my tallit bag that represents the influence that women have had throughout my life as a proud Jew.

View of mountain range on a pink checkered background

Why Do I Cry at Services?

Sonia Freedman

With all the joy in the room, I didn’t understand why my eyes would begin to water.

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.

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.

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.

Photo of Daniela Gesundheit and her album cover, featuring a woman with her face in her hands and the words "Alphabet of Wrongdoing" in jumbled letters

Q & A with Daniela Gesundheit About her New Album, "Alphabet of Wrongdoing"

Sarah Jae Leiber

JWA talks with musician, vocalist, and composer Daniela Gesundheit about how her new album, Alphabet of Wrongdoing, makes the sacred accessible. 

Postcard of a family of four dressed in Kittels

Frolicking Maidens and the Hidden History of the Kittel

Leora Krygier

The kittel is commonly worn by men on Yom Kippur, but their ancient use by young maidens to attract husbands is little known.

Statue of Maimonides in Córdoba, Spain

Jewishness Itself is a Home

Isadora Kianovsky

Over the course of my semester abroad, I realized that, even though I wasn’t at home, I wasn’t without a home, either.

Painting by Siona Benjamin featuring a woman as the body of a menorah, with seven branches coming out as arms

From the Archive: 'Tikkun Ha-Olam, Finding Home Series #46' by Siona Benjamin

Deborah Dash Moore
Mimi Jessica Brown Wooten

The Posen Library shares a painting by Bene Israel Jewish artist Siona Benjamin. 

Birth of Mirra Alfassa, Spiritual Leader and Holy Figure

February 21, 1878

Mirra Alfassa became a revered spiritual leader, holy figure, and yogic guru in India, founding multiple ashrams, a school, and an intentional, self-sustaining community. She held the title of Mother because of her connection to the divine mother.

Two women on the bima at synagogue

Learning to Find My Own Path, Like My Great-Grandfather and Avraham Before Me

Davi Cheng

When my great-grandfather embarked on his journey, he couldn’t have known he would one day inspire his great-granddaughter to become a Jew.

Woman stands on in subway car with her head peeking through open doors

"Russian Doll" Season 2: Messy, but Beautiful

Emma Breitman

Despite a sloppy start, the show’s second season ultimately hooked me with its exploration of Jewish themes.

Episode 74: A Half-Century of Women Rabbis

Fifty years ago, Rabbi Sally Priesand made history by becoming the first woman rabbi in America. In this episode of Can We Talk?, women rabbis from three Jewish denominations reflect on the milestone. We speak with Rabbi Dianne Cohler-Esses, Rabba Sara Hurwitz, and Rabbi Sandra Lawson about the challenges they’ve faced, and about how their presence in the rabbinate is shaping the Jewish community. This is the final episode in our three-part anniversary series.

Episode 72: Ezrat Nashim Confronts the Rabbis

Fifty years ago, a group of young Jewish women piled into two cars and drove to upstate New York to crash the annual meeting of the all-male Rabbinical Assembly of the Conservative movement. They called themselves Ezrat Nashim and they had a set of demands that included the right to be counted in a minyan, lead religious services, and attend rabbinical school. Their brief but brave action had ripple effects across American Jewish communities.

Miriam Anzovin posing with ring light.

Interview With Talmudic TikToker Miriam Anzovin

Dina Adelsky

JWA talks to Miriam Anzovin about leaving behind Orthodox practice, misogyny on social media and IRL, and of course, her viral Daf Reactions TikTok videos.

Episode 71: Bat Mitzvah at 100

On March 18, 1922, Judith Kaplan made history when she stood in front of her Manhattan congregation and had America's first bat mitzvah ceremony. Judith's bat mitzvah was groundbreaking at the time, but it didn't look like most bat mitzvahs today. In this episode of Can We Talk?, producer Jen Richler talks with Professor Carole Balin about how the bat mitzvah has evolved over the past century, and how girls and their parents have pushed for that evolution. Carole is working on a book based on interviews with dozens of women, representing many decades of bat mitzvah history.

Collage of two faces with Star of David and Muslim star and crescent

I’m Jewish. My Partner is Muslim. Here’s How We Make It Work.

Zia Saylor

Celebrating our differences has brought my partner and me closer—but it hasn’t always been easy.

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