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Spirituality and Religious Life

Growing Up in a Feminist Jewish Community

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.

Icons for the New Year: Ray Frank

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.

Remembering Anne Meara: Jewish Mother By Choice

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.

Book Review: Spiritual Kneading Through the Jewish Months

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.

Deborah Marcus Melamed

Deborah Marcus Melamed encouraged Jewish women to form their own relationship with Jewish practice through her 1927 book The Three Pillars, an interpretive guide to rituals and customs.

Fannie Eller Lorber

When her community became a mecca for adults suffering from tuberculosis, Fannie Eller Lorber created a Jewish children’s home for those who had no one else to care for them.

Rachel Mordecai Lazarus

Proud of her Jewish heritage but conflicted about her faith, Rachel Mordecai Lazarus was torn between publicly fighting anti-Semitism and privately questioning Judaism’s ideals.

Finding Sisterhood at Services

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.

Mordecai Kaplan

The founder of Reconstructionist Judaism, Mordecai Kaplan struck a fundamental blow for women’s participation in Jewish ritual with the bat mitzvah of his eldest daughter, Judith.

Zipporah Nunes Machado Jacobs

Zipporah Nunes Machado Jacobs escaped the horrors of the Inquisition as a conversa, using clever tricks to keep her devotion to Judaism secret from any who might betray her.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Spirituality and Religious Life." (Viewed on August 14, 2018) <https://jwa.org/topics/spirituality-and-religious-life>.

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