Spirituality and Religious Life

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Phoebe Chapnick-Sorokin and Family at Disneyland

Leaving My Liberal Bubble

Phoebe Chapnick-Sorokin

Because of my upbringing, the gender separation at my cousin Zoe’s bat mitzvah came to me as a shock. Why couldn’t I stand with my dad and all my male cousins? Why wasn’t Zoe reading Torah like all the other girls I knew did at their bat mitzvah services?

Western Wall

Looking at the Kotel Through a Feminist Lens

Madelyn Gelb

I remember being four years old and writing notes to God to put into the fake Kotel we had constructed at my preschool. It was about three feet tall and made out of colorful building blocks, but to me, that was as good as it got.

Abigail Glickman's Shabbat Candlesticks

Lighting Candles, Linking Hands

Abigail Glickman

Before it was safe for me to use matches, I remember looking forward to the first Shabbat when I could light my own candles. Now, when I light the candles on Friday nights, I feel empowered. I feel as if my mother and I are physically bringing Shabbat into our home as we strike our matches and light our candles.

2018-2019 Rising Voices Fellow Shira Minsk in First Grade

Why Keep Passover When You Love Carbs?

Shira Minsk

Now that I’m out in the secular world, I have to decide what Judaism really means to me. I have to distinguish between the things that are actually important to me and the things I’ve just done out of habit.

Lily Drazin at her Bat Mitzvah

Orthodoxy, Feminism, and Me

Lily Drazin

My family, being more progressive than most in our community, are strong believers in women reading from the Torah. My older sister, Jennie, read Torah at Robinson’s Arch, the egalitarian section of the Western Wall, for her Bat Mitzvah, so it was a given that I would do the same.

Cropped Image of Emily Raskin and her 5 year old daughter Hannah Roan Raskin

Your Jewish Feminist Protest Toolkit

Steph Black

We Jewish women are no strangers to protest or dissent. We’re loud. We’re opinionated. And we mobilize. Did you forget sunscreen at your last rally? Failed to create a quippy poster that captured your rage when you marched for gun rights? If you find yourself anxious to make change but unsure about what to bring, we've got you covered.

Promo Image for 93 Queens

Is 93Queen the Face of Hasidic Feminism?

Dr. Helene Meyers

Paula Eiselt is a honest enough filmmaker to represent the compromises that her protagonist makes and the tensions that develop within the unit as a result.

Max M. at his Bar Mitzvah

It Takes a Village

Dorrit Corwin

Over the years, I’ve been to countless bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies. While each one has been unique to the specific teen being honored, all of the services have been catered to the typical Jewish kid: one who can read English and some Hebrew, memorize prayers, and stand at the bimah and speak about about his or her Jewish education and life experiences. In February, I had the honor of being part of a bar mitzvah that was unlike any of the others I had previously attended. My family friend Max became a bar mitzvah without speaking a single word.

Stock Image of Cat with Cat Food

I'm Over It

Rabbi Leah Berkowitz

I came to spend the rest of my afternoon hauling a case of cat food to the local housing project. I was glad to do it, though I didn’t know why the woman had reached out to our temple ... She was very happy to see me, but, in part due to the fact that I was wearing sneakers, I’m pretty sure she thought I was a well-meaning volunteer. When she did realize that I was, in fact, the rabbi, and not some emergency cat food delivery service, she got VERY EXCITED.

Cantor Alisa Pomerantz-Boro

Blazing a Trail, One Note at a Time

Sofia Gardenswartz

I’ve always considered words to hold a certain power. As the old saying goes, “the pen is mightier than the sword.” So, when I was sitting in the front row as my little brother was called to the Torah for the first time as a bar mitzvah, something struck me about the language of the event. Usually, the English translation in the siddurim (prayer books) follows the literal Hebrew on the opposite page, reading “God” for “Adonai” and “He” for “Hu.” But in the readings that day, God was genderless. The biblical Hebrew that has been passed down for millennia wasn’t changed, but the English translation avoided the use of any pronouns that would invoke gender. 

"TALIT"

A Fringe of Her Own: An Interview with Tamar Paley

Judith Rosenbaum

If women had a say in the creation of these ritual objects, how would they look and feel? I began by trying to figure out how women around me today are experiencing their spirituality. And as a jewelry designer, I was also thinking about how this material feels on the body, where it is worn ...

Natalie Harder at her Bat Mitzvah

A Woman’s Place is in the Cantorate

Natalie Harder

If you ask any member of Temple Beth Elohim in Wellesley, Massachusetts, they will tell you that Jodi Sufrin was made to be a cantor. Not only does she have a beautiful voice, but she radiates this soft warmth at all times—inviting everyone to take part in what she is saying or singing. From sing-alongs in Beth Elohim’s preschool to Friday night services, Cantor Sufrin has been a gentle, but nonetheless powerful female presence in my life. She is, and has always been, the type of person I (and every other young Jewish girl at my temple) aspire to be. And as I grew up and became the person I am today, I couldn’t have been luckier to have a role model like her, showing me what being a Jewish woman can mean.

Shira Small with her Great-Aunt Esther

Labels vs. Identity

Shira Small

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.

Rabbi Jennifer Singer

Faith and Feminism

Minnah Stein

Last year I met Rabbi Jennifer Singer, and I 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. 

Kara Sherman Bat Mitzvah

My Jewish Role Model and her Humanist Role Models

Kara Sherman

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.

Emma Mair in Jerusalem

Debbie Coltin: Now on Your Radar

Emma Mair

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 Massachusetts’s North Shore 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!

Dorrit Corwin and Rabbi Laura Geller

Rabbi Laura Geller: Torah of Jewish Feminism

Dorrit Corwin

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.

Cast of Call Me By Your Name

Call Me By Your Name: A Novel Representation of Judaism

Kara Sherman

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.

Falsettos

L’dor Vador in Falsettoland

Minnah Stein

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. 

Julie Seltzer

And It Will Touch Your Heart

Julie Seltzer

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.

Julia Clardy Canoe Trip Photo

Creation on a Canoe Trip

Julia Clardy

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.

Rising Voices Fellow Dorrit Corwin with her Grandfather

L’Dor V’Dor: A Legacy of Love

Dorrit Corwin

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).

Dorrit Corwin Cropped

Oh Come All Ye Interfaithful

Dorrit Corwin

The holiday season doesn’t truly begin until the glimmering menorah ornament is carefully placed on my family’s Christmas tree. It isn’t a Hanukkah bush; it’s a Christmas tree. I’ve been raised following Jewish tradition while also acknowledging Catholic customs, and I’m lucky enough to have grown up in an environment that has encouraged my complex Jewish identity, and helped me build a versatile and sturdy religious foundation.

Daniella Shear Practicing for Bat Mitzvah

If Only You Would Listen

Daniella Shear

I’m very lucky to have had access to high quality prayer services for youth when I was younger. There were options for every age from two to 18, and they were fun. Unfortunately, this rich offering of services for kids didn’t last forever.

Sukkot Harvest

A Bicultural Jew Gives Thanks on Sukkot

Dr. Helene Meyers

So, my journey from New York to Texas has resulted in my viewing myself as a bicultural Jew: I have had the luxury and privilege of taking Jewishness for granted and I also know the depths of Jewish illiteracy and intolerance that plague parts of the country and some institutions of higher education.

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