Spirituality and Religious Life

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Collection

Sharon Salzberg

Sharon Salzberg helped bring Theravedic Buddhism, one of the most conservative Buddhist dsiciplines, to America as one of the three co-founders of the Insight Meditation Society in 1974.

Mychal Springer

Mychal Springer created the Center for Pastoral Education to enable hospital chaplains of all backgrounds to learn from Jewish models for visiting the sick while incorporating the wisdom of other pastoral traditions.

Composite of At The Well Logo and Sarah Waxman

At The Well with Sarah Waxman

Abby Richmond

Menstruation: A little over half of all bodies do it, have done it, or will one day be doing it, and yet we are encouraged to not be curious about this physical process that literally makes life possible. At The Well (ATW), a Jewish women's wellness nonprofit, is seeking to bridge that artificial (and patriarchally imposed) gap between women, their bodies, and spirituality.

"The Liberation of G-D Proclamation," by Helene Aylon, 1990-1996

Helène Aylon: Rescuing G-d from the Patriarchy

Peri Levin

As far as I was concerned, religion was a conservative cult, and Abrahamic faiths didn’t seem to be interested in powerful women expressing themselves. I recently discovered Helène Aylon, an artist whose projects and story bring these struggles of faith and feminism into focus.

Camping Stock Photo

The Campsite Guide to Exiting Relationships

Lisa Batya Feld

Breakups are complicated. The models we get from pop culture often involve lots of drama, betrayal, and revenge. In the other direction, the Jewish value of shalom bayit, “peace in the home,” can be taken to an extreme where women are pressured to stay and try to fix things no matter how bad things get. But shalom bayit is not the only Jewish value that can be applied to relationships.

Bat Mitzvah or Check?

6 Bat Mitzvah Gifts to Look at Before Writing a Check

Sara Lebow

Here are six adorable Bat Mitzvah gifts to consider before just giving up and writing a check to the newly minted young adult in your life.

Delphine Horvilleur

As one of the leaders of the Liberal Jewish Movement in France, Rabbi Delphine Horvilleur is working to bring a progressive mindset to the more traditional French Jewish community.
Anita Diamant With the Jewish Wedding Now

An Interview with Anita Diamant

Rabbi Leah Berkowitz

The latest edition, The Jewish Wedding Now, came out this month, and I was delighted to interview Diamant after hearing her speak to the Women’s Rabbinic Network at our biennial convention.

Rising Voices Fellow Hannah Himmelgreen's Aunt Sophie

Lessons from Aunt Sophie

Hannah Himmelgreen

I often find myself thinking about how lucky I am to have spent my childhood surrounded by strong women; my mother, my aunts, and my grandmothers have all taught me that shattering the glass ceiling takes not only the force of a sledgehammer, but also the courage to face what lies beyond. As I, a once incredibly timid child, have grown into a strong Jewish woman, I’ve realized that this idea applies just as much in my religious life as it does in my secular one. 

Tess Kelly's Grandparents

The Last Question

Tess Kelly

For someone I spend a lot of time with, I was sadly ignorant of much of my grandmother’s past.  My maternal grandma, Joan, grew up in Brooklyn, New York with an older and a twin sister, and her Judaism was largely cultural. Until a few weeks ago, I didn’t know where she went to college, why she chose Reform Judaism or how she felt about feminism. She simply never talked about those sorts of things. 

Laila Goodman

Sexism, Spirituality, and Science: The Story of Laila Goodman

Eden Olsberg

Laila Goodman isn’t your average high school biology teacher. Her class is regularly filled with personal anecdotes from her life, and her office is regularly filled with students seeking advice. One of my most memorable interactions with her was talking about her experiences as a doula, and then later looking at an album of birthing photos.

Maid of Ludomir

Hannah Rachel Verbermacher, one of the early precursors of women rabbis, was known as the Maid of Ludomir and was alternately revered for her wisdom and reviled for taking on a traditionally male role.
Open Journal

Finding Myself and God in a Still, Small Voice

Aliza Abusch-Magder

Teenage chaos is inevitable. I speak from experience when I say, plenty of mistakes are made and it can be hard to find our voice. We don’t always know how to grow. We don't always know how to learn from our mistakes. For the first time, our questions don’t have answers. 

2016-2017 Rising Voices Fellow Katy Ronkin at her Bat Mitzvah

Niddah v. Ronkin: How I was able to Reclaim the Mikveh

Katy Ronkin

It’s so disheartening to me that our religious text calls something as natural as a woman’s period, “impure.” A period is nothing to be ashamed of, and this text only adds to the stigma surrounding them. 

Sunrise over a Lake

The Power of My Daily Renewal

Hannah Himmelgreen

After long afternoons turn into endless evenings and restless nights, I still wake up in the morning feeling wholly replenished. With the ring of my alarm clock comes the thought that I can take on the day, no matter how tired I am. 

2016-2017 Rising Voices Fellow Sarah Biskowitz and her Sister Lighting Shabbat Candles

The Ham Sandwich

Sarah Biskowitz

Looking back, I now know that the comment about my sandwich choice was an extremely inappropriate thing for a coach to say to a student. It was also just rude. But most of all, it capitalized on my outsider-ness. 

2016-2017 Rising Voices Fellow Tess Kelly at her Bat Mitzvah

The Cleveland Jew’s Dilemma

Tess Kelly

Nearly 200 years ago, residents of the West Side of Cleveland destroyed the bridge that connected the banks of the Cuyahoga river, separating themselves from East Cleveland, and intending to become their own city. Since then, we’ve built a new bridge and stayed a single city, but we still haven’t gotten over our differences. East Siders think that West Siders are blue-collar conservatives who have failed to build up their communities. West Siders think that East Siders are snobby, rich, white people who never leave their suburban bubble. 

2016-2017 Rising Voices Fellow Diana Myers Wearing Tefillin

Binding My Religious and Feminist Identities Together

Diana Myers

I started wearing tefillin at camp. I was fourteen and I had a lot of ideas about overthrowing patriarchal Judaism, and I thought it looked cool. Tefillin are traditionally worn only by Jewish men who have reached bar mitzvah age (thirteen), although Conservative and Reform Judaism, some of the more liberal sects of Judaism, are very accepting of women wrapping as well. 

NFTY STR Spring Kallah 2016

Leading a Sea of Voices

Hannah Himmelgreen

I never realized that it was possible for my whole outlook on Judaism to be transformed in an hour and a half, or that a few moments of hearing voices come together in prayer could move me so deeply. But that’s exactly what happened when I led my youth group in Shabbat services this past March. 

2016-2017 Rising Voices Fellow Eden Olsberg in Tsfat (Cropped)

A Pluralistic Girl in a Non-Pluralistic City

Eden Olsberg

As a vocal feminist, you might expect me to get upset at various sites in Israel, such as the Kotel, because women are not treated equally to men. On the contrary, I tend to forgive these characteristics that go against my personal values, and instead embrace the spiritual and Jewish aspects to which I can connect. However, I broke this trend on a Shabbat trip to Tsfat, one of the holiest cities in the country with one of the most observant populations. 

Bet Debora, Conference Logo, 2016

Reflections on the 8th Annual Bet Debora Conference

S.L. Wisenberg

The 8th International Bet Debora Conference of European Jewish Women, Activists, Academics and Rabbis was not for women like me: those of us born and raised in the US, people whose bat mitzvahs were a given, who grew up with live grandparents and a great-grandmother, who do not have generational gaps on their family tree because of the Shoah. In short, women who haven’t had to fight for their Judaism.

Benevolent Societies and Tzedakah

Examine different ways that American Jewish women historically—and we today—fulfill the obligation of tzedakah (charity) and gemilut chesed (acts of loving kindness).

A Young American Jew in Israel, 1947-1948

Learn about the founding of the State of Israel from the perspective of Zipporah Porath, a young American woman who joined the Zionist effort in 1947.

Ray Frank's Yom Kippur Sermon, 1890

Read the 1890 Yom Kippur sermon by Ray Frank, the first Jewish woman to preach formally from a pulpit, and consider what unites and divides the Jewish people both historically and today.

Writing Home: A Letter from an Early American Jew

Learn about Jewish immigration and the development of the Jewish community in America through a 1790s letter, originally written in Yiddish by Rebecca Samuel to her parents in Hamburg, Germany, describing her life in Petersburg, Virginia.

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