Spirituality and Religious Life

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Ruth Nussbaum preserves a Torah on Kristallnacht

November 10, 1938

Ruth Nussbaum preserves a Torah on Kristallnacht.

American Jews Losing Their Religion: That’s Me in the Corner.

Jordyn Rozensky

After 48 jam-packed hours with the board, I feel good about my role with the JWA. But it is not just the board that keeps my enthusiasm afloat—it is the JWA mission. Our users, readers, and community echo the passion our board and staff feels.

This morning I woke up, back in Boston, to my normal routine—which includes checking my email before I even get out of bed. Still on a high from my JWA infused weekend, I discovered that a friend sent me an article my way entitled “American Jews Losing Their Religion.”

Pew Research study hit the web this morning stating “one-in-five Jews (22%) now describe themselves as having no religion.” 

Elul, my Grandma, the Tomato Hornworm, and the Talmud

Nigel Savage

Even as it’s the start of August and the middle of summer, it’s also about to be the start of the Hebrew month of Elul.

I’m particularly conscious of the timing because my Grandma died – ten years ago this month – on the last day of Av. Confusingly the last day of Av is the first day of Rosh Chodesh Elul; ie the day before the second day of Rosh Chodesh Elul, which is in fact the first day of Elul. That in turn is the first day we blow shofar, and thus the official start of the season of teshuva – of returning to our best selves. So, in honor of my grandma, and lest the holidays catch you unawares, a few things to think about in the forthcoming season of teshuva.

Rabbah Sara Hurwitz

But Why Do They Have to be Rabbis?

Talia bat Pessi

Although my friends usually come into the conversation unable to comprehend why nice, Orthodox girls would want to enter the rabbinate, I certainly hope they leave the discussion slightly more enlightened. They don’t have to agree with me at the end of the day; Judaism is very fluid, and no two people must come to the same conclusion regarding the interpretation of halakha. I just hope they can understand why women like the recent Yeshivat Maharat graduates may want to choose the rabbinate or a religious leadership role.

Founding of Ma’yan, Home for Young Women’s Resources

July 1, 1993

Founding of Ma’yan, Home for Young Women’s Resources

Boston Dyke March

Claiming our Inheritance at the Boston Dyke March

Becky Silverstein

As a member of the GLBTQ community and a rabbinical student, it is clear to me that the words “there is no need” do not apply to places where Jewish and Queer communities intersect.  There is so much need.  Before these needs can be addressed, they need to be made visible.  GLBTQ Jews need to be seen as vital members of our GLBTQ communities.  We need to be seen and valued as Jews who have vast interests and abilities and life experiences that can, and already do, enrich Jewish life.  We, GLBTQ Jews, also need to stand up and claim Jewish community, Jewish tradition, and Jewish law for ourselves.

Women of the Wall Prayer Service in Gan Miriam, Jerusalem

Why is Women of the Wall Such a Hot Button?

Velda Shaby

When it comes to women’s religious expression, what is it that drives men to such distraction that they throw chairs, hurl insults, and resort to other forms of violence? Are we as women allowed to push the boundaries only so far?

Trunk

Jewish Identity: A Round-Trip Journey

Donna Swarthout

A life-long discomfort with institutionalized Judaism is hard to shed once you reach the mid-life years. Sure, it’s great to keep an open mind, but there’s also the sense of not wanting to waste time on pursuits unlikely to enrich one’s life. Some of us narrow our options as we get older in a bargain to reduce the odds of having regrets.

"Teach Them to Your Children"

Sharing stories, inspiring change

Judith Rosenbaum

Last week, Rabbi Scott Perlo wrote a provocative article in the Washington Post in which he addressed the continuing discomfort that many Jews—even liberal, gender-equity-supporting ones—feel about female rabbis. He suggests that this puzzling phenomenon may be due to the central place nostalgia holds in many people’s feelings about Judaism. It comes as no surprise that this nostalgic vision does not include female rabbis.

Cracked Egg Surrounded by Greenery

Strength in Fragility

Susan Reimer-Torn

With the summer’s end, my hands will no longer be gritty from tucking tangled roots into the soil, from weeding out invaders and doling out compost.

Deborah Raub with Covered Head

Undercover

Deborah Fineblum Raub

What if you were promised you would never have another BHD (Bad Hair Day)? What’s more, what if you never again had to wonder if your roots are showing?

"Destruction of the Temple" by Francesco Hayez, 1867

Tisha B'Av, Ride, and Mayer

Gabrielle Orcha

Over the weekend, I was at a Modern Orthodox temple honoring Tisha B’Av, the 9th day in the month of Av, the saddest day in the Jewish year.

Kate Bigam and her Father

My father’s daughter, my mother’s faith

Kate Bigam

This year, Father’s Day falls on June 17th, just two days before the 17th anniversary of my father’s death.

Why Be Jewish? Sharing stories, pushing boundaries

Judith Rosenbaum

 

Last week, I had the privilege of participating in a small, intense, and invigorating conference run by the Samuel Bronfman Foundation in partnership with the Shalom Hartman Institute. Provocatively titled “Why Be Jewish?” this year’s conference focused on the state of pluralism in the Jewish community.

Gail T. Reimer Receives the 2012 American Jewish Distinguished Service Award from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Women’s strides spotlighted this spring at Reform Movement’s graduations, ordinations

Deborah Fineblum Raub

This month marks 40 years since the ordination of the first woman rabbi in America. And the Reform Movement is doing some serious celebrating.

Rebecca Lubetkin Celebrating her 60th Bat Mitzvah Anniversary

Rebecca Lubetkin's 60th Bat Mitz-versary

Deborah Fineblum Raub

“It’s funny how practices that seem way out in one generation become so commonplace in another that people wonder what took so long.

Melissa Scholten-Gutierrez Hugs her Mother

My two moms: Jewesses with a different kind of attitude

Melissa Scholten-Gutierrez

I am a lucky girl. I have two women who I call mom. Well, one I call mommie and the other emma (Hebrew for mother), but that’s just semantics.

Passover recipe roundup

Kate Bigam

Tonight marks the fourth night of Passover, and you’re probably running low on leftovers from the first two nights’ seders (if you had any to begin with). Fear not!

Voices of Jewish Poets Logo

Passover poetry: Re-telling the story of our own lives

Gail Reimer

National Poetry Month officially began yesterday. It is not altogether clear why the Academy of American Poets chose April as the month to celebrate poets and poetry.

Ketubah

Reclaiming the Ketubah as a symbol of equality and women's independence

Allyson Block

The evolution of the Ketubah in the Jewish tradition has taken an interesting turn in recent times.

Beatrice L. Garber, 1912 - 1999

While she wasn’t your typical 'Bubbe,' cooking brisket or baking kugel, she was a gifted public speaker and totally dedicated to Hadassah, her synagogue, the Land of Israel, the Jewish people, and her family.

"The Wandering is Over Haggadah, Including Women's Stories" Logo

Include women's voices with JWA's Passover Haggadah

Leah Berkenwald

Last week Kathleen Peratis shared her disappointment with the widely acclaimed The New American Haggadah by Jonathan Safran Foer and Nathan Englander:

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