Spirituality and Religious Life

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Collection
Gabi Cantor Leaving for a Trip to Israel Cropped

Finding My Place

Gabrielle Cantor

When the second half of 8th grade arrived, I was faced with what my 13-year old self believed was the most important decision I would ever have to make in my entire life. I had to choose a youth group to join. Even though Denver has fewer options than most cities, I was still overwhelmed by my choices. 

Jill Hammer

Jill Hammer co-founded the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute to offer women alternative ways of connecting with Jewish tradition by focusing on the sacredness of the body and the earth.
"Children Dancing in a Ring"

Can Jewish Pluralism Be Salvaged?

Noam Green

Every Thursday, the Jewish Standard, a community newspaper catered to the diverse North Jersey and Rockland County Jewish populations, is delivered to my house just in time for Shabbat. When I was younger, I used to look forward to its arrival. I would straighten out the pages and perch on the couch like the adults I saw on television, immersing myself in the cultural happenings of my local Jewish community. 

Deborah Brin

Deborah Brin, one of the first openly gay rabbis, led the first prayer service for Women of the Wall at the Conference for the Empowerment of Jewish Women in 1988.

Pam Grossman

By curating stock photos of women in settings from construction sites to the boardroom, Pam Grossman has helped Getty Images change the perception of women in the media.
Debbie Friedman with Her Guitar

The Music In Us All

Gabrielle Cantor

I grew up singing. My family sang songs every holiday, and we even listened to fun Jewish family songs in the car. My favorite part of Hebrew School every week was when we got to sing, and I looked forward to coming home and serenading my parents with the latest song that I had learned. 

Ruth Fredman Cernea

While she spent her career studying Jewish communities from Washington, DC to Myanmar, Ruth Fredman Cernea may be best known for her part in creating the annual Latke Hamantash Debate at the University of Chicago.
Marcia Falk

May You Be Blessed In All That You Are

Eliana Gayle-Schneider

Each Shabbat my parents bless me with the words, “Be who you are and may you be blessed in all that you are.” These words have been embedded in my mind as my family’s traditional blessing, signifying the start of Shabbat.  While other families bless their children saying, “May God make you like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah,” this alternative prayer has been our way of welcoming the Sabbath for as long as I can remember. 

Gabi Cantor at the Western Wall

Can Feminism and Orthodox Judaism Coexist? I Say Yes.

Gabrielle Cantor

Growing up as the oldest of three girls, I have always been taught that my position in the Jewish community is an important one. I was taught that when I grow up I’ll get the opportunity to be an active participant within my Jewish community. 

Eliana Gayle-Schneider Plays Piano and Sings

A Jewish Woman's Place At The Table

Eliana Gayle-Schneider

I’ve grown up in the epitome of a noisy Jewish household. For me, a large part of the Jewish cultural experience consists of rapid-fire Shabbos dinner debates that leave you with a sore throat and a full stomach. 

Tightrope Walker

The Balancing Act

Maya Franks

I was raised in a modern orthodox household. I went to a private Jewish preschool, then a private Jewish elementary school, and then a private Jewish middle school. But when I reached high school, my family and I made the decision to go to public school. It was a brand new social and educational experience, and almost all of the changes I went through were positive. However, I lost the daily Hebrew and Judaics I’d had my whole life, and I realized how you can get very distant very quickly from your Judaism. 

Name Tag

Decidedly Unorthodox

Rana Bickel

Earlier this year, it was a Saturday afternoon and I was at my friend’s house when she asked me how my beliefs in feminism and Modern Orthodoxy were compatible. I tried to explain to her that in order for my feminism to be real, it had to be challenged. 

Sally Priesand at Hebrew Union College with Rabbinical Students

Growing Up in a Feminist Jewish Community

Abby Richmond

At my conservative temple, Temple Emanuel, two out of our three rabbis are women. This is the biggest conservative temple in New England, and it is thrilling to me when thousands of people pour in for the High Holidays to watch women lead services. I know that some synagogues aren’t as accepting of women taking on leadership roles, and I find it inspiring that my temple is so encouraging and supportive.

Ray Frank Litman, 1923, Cropped

Icons for the New Year: Ray Frank

Tara Metal

While seeking stories of transformation this holiday season, most of the tales that have caught my attention involved women who exchanged quiet domestic lives for active involvement in the public sphere. Ray Frank did the opposite: she swapped her life as a trailblazing Jewish leader for one away from the spotlight.

Anne Meara and Jerry Stiller, November 6, 1967

Remembering Anne Meara: Jewish Mother By Choice

Keren R. McGinity, Ph.D.

Anne Meara was a Jewess with an attitude. She was born in Brooklyn on September 20, 1929, raised as a Catholic, and died as a Jew in Manhattan on May 23, 2015. Meara studied drama and although she never intended to be a comedian, that’s how she will be remembered by most audiences. What made Meara truly unique was that she exuded her Irish ethnicity while simultaneously taking on the mantle of Jewish wife and mother.

Etta King Making Challah with Spiritual Kneading

Book Review: Spiritual Kneading Through the Jewish Months

Etta King Heisler

Exclamations of pride and wonder filled the room when we filed into the kitchen and found that the dough we had carefully mixed and kneaded had successfully grown into two pillowy, pungent loaves. Pulling off an olive-sized piece of dough, I recited the blessing “Blessed are you, God, who has sanctified us with your commandments and commanded us to separate challah.” Laughing and singing, we split the dough and began forming it into loaves.

Ellie Kahn

Finding Sisterhood at Services

Ellie Kahn

I knew I was getting older when my mom stopped letting me bring Archie comics and Crayola crayons with me to services. These kept me entertained, even if it meant hiding my comics behind the prayer books, peeking over them periodically to see if anyone had noticed the offending material.

Sikh Marching Band

Oak Creek, Two Years Later

Tara Metal

In my neighborhood, Sikhs hand out free cold drinks on certain Saturdays. They do this on important days in Sikh history to raise awareness of their beliefs—the water bottles and cans of Coke are accompanied by small printed brochures detailing Sikh practices and culture.

Birth of Esther Broner, co-creator of "The Women’s Haggadah"

July 8, 1927

Esther Broner "made room for us at the table by creating a whole new one—a Seder table at which women’s voices were heard.”

Rabbi Susan Silverman with Police at Western Wall

A Civil Sinai

Susan Silverman

When I became a Woman of the Wall, I became more fully Jewish.

I had been a rabbi for almost 20 years the day I was detained, with nine other women – including my seventeen-year-old daughter – by police for wearing a tallis and praying out loud at the kotel. We were singing the psalms of hallel when a young police officer waved for me to follow her out of the women’s section. I shook my head. She approached me, her hand outstretched. I reached for my daughter who is named for the prayers we sang – Hallel --and together we sat down. The police officer squatted in front of me and asked me to come with her.

Savina Teubal

Savina Teubal created space for Jewish women to participate in holidays and rituals, and created a powerful new tradition to recognize her own rite of passage from adult to elder.

Marcia Cohn Spiegel

Marcia Cohn Spiegel was one of the first to speak out about alcoholism and domestic violence in the Jewish community, using her own experience to help others.

Lynn Gottlieb

One of the first ten women rabbis, Lynn Gottlieb became a voice for peace between Jews and Muslims.

Rachel Cowan

As one of the founders of the Jewish healing movement, Rachel Cowan blended modern holistic medicine and counseling with traditional Jewish rituals and prayers to help change how people responded to illness.

Nina Beth Cardin

Part of the first class of women ordained as Conservative rabbis, Nina Beth Cardin embraced the unconventional path of a “community pulpit” by founding healing centers and creating new ways to approach miscarriage and loss.

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