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Spirituality and Religious Life

Paula Ackerman

At the turn of the twentieth century, a young girl from Pensacola, Florida, named Paula Herskovitz dreamed of one day becoming a medical doctor. Believing that the medical profession was unsuitable for women, her father insisted that she abandon her dream. Yet decades later, she embarked upon a career he no doubt would have found equally unsuitable: she became a spiritual leader.

What I learned from Aliza Lavie ...

Did you know that there's a special prayer for preparing the wicks of Shabbat candles? Neither did I. This past Tuesday, I listened to Dr. Aliza Lavie discuss her book, A Jewish Woman's Prayer Book, a collection of prayers composed by and for women over hundreds of years in all parts of the world.

Interview with Danya Ruttenberg

Last week I interviewed one of my new favorite Jewesses with attitude - Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg. I recently (finally!) finished her new book, Surprised by God: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Religion.

The American Jewess: Religious Observance in 1896

Some of the articles we're finding in our look at The American Jewess archives seem surprisingly contemporary (19th century language aside), yet a closer look reveals the more subtle points of contrast between how we approach particular issues now vs. then.

More on the boys

There has been a recent flurry of attention to the issue of boys’ (and men’s) flagging participation in Jewish life, particularly in the synagogue—some going so far as to call this a crisis.

A Multi-Faith ‘Holy Cow’

A few weeks ago, I blogged about Community Supported Agriculture programs (CSAs) and the increasing number of Jews making environmental advocacy an ethical priority, or for many, a religious imperative. What I didn’t muse about was how CSAs, organic farming, and food equity programs are appealing to other religious groups and, in many ways, uniting them.

Kippah-Wearing Jewesses

Confession: I am a progressive Jewish feminist with a strong aversion to wearing a kippah. I often parade around town wearing men's cargo shorts, I sport short-and-spiky fauxhawk-ish hair, and can feel at home in a tie and blazer over baggy khakis. I usually wear a tallit when I pray. But wearing a kippah in synagogue makes me feel shockingly unfeminine and terribly self-conscious.

Learning Torah in a Tent

Today is the first day of summer, the longest day of the year… which just might be my favorite day of the year. Unofficially, June 21 is the camp season kick-off date, and for many Jewish kids and families, that’s a big deal.

What if a Jew Becomes a Jewess?

A few months ago, I got a call from my mom, a university professor, who had a student she described as “extremely androgynous with a unisex name.” She didn’t know how to address this student using a pronoun and asked me: “What should I do? What should I say?” I didn’t have a good answer.

Funny, You Don't *Look* Jewish...

Last week’s New York Times article “Journey from a Chinese Orphanage to a Jewish Rite of Passage” got me thinking more about the complexities of reconciling an adoptive Jewish identity with a non-Jewish biological heritage. The article follows the story of a Chinese girl named Cece adopted by a lesbian couple in the early 1990s when China first opened its doors to international adoption. About three weeks ago, Cece became a Bat Mitvah, one of the first Chinese adoptees of her cohort to do so.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Spirituality and Religious Life." (Viewed on June 25, 2018) <https://jwa.org/topics/spirituality-and-religious-life>.

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