Spirituality and Religious Life

Content type
Collection

תרומה –תצוה (Exodus 25- 30:10) T'rumah and T'tzaveh-- And you shall be a blessing....

by  Elyssa Cohen

February is Jewish Disability Awareness month. Awareness itself is an interesting term to wrap your mind around, it makes me ask: how are we building “awareness” and about what specifically? Are we being ‘aware’ just by engaging in conversations about disabilities? How do we talk about disability, in what context, and what actions are we taking in our society to help those who may have different physical or mental challenges.

Jewish Disability Awareness Month Logo

Jewish Disability Awareness Month: What you should know

by  Kate Bigam

February is Black History Month. It’s also American Heart Month, International Boost Self-Esteem Month, National Snack Food Month, and Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month. Yes, seriously. But for the Jewish community, this February also marks the 3rd annual Jewish Disability Awareness Month, described as “a unified effort to raise awareness and support efforts to foster inclusion of people with disabilities and their families in Jewish communities worldwide.”

"The Feminine Mystique," by Betty Friedan

Planting the seed: Memories of "The Feminine Mystique"

by  Susan Reimer-Torn

There’s a lot of buzz these days about Stephanie Coontz’s new book A Strong Stirring, an assessment of Betty Friedans’s 1963 manifesto The Feminine Mystique. It’s stirring up some personal memories of my own.

Yarmulkes and Prayer Shawls

Trying tallit and tefillin: Working on my hyprocrisy

by From the Rib

A few months ago, I realized that I wanted to start wearing Tallit and Tefillin. Not because I had some grand change in ideology, but because I realized that doing so actually goes along with the ideology I’ve professed to have for quite some time.

A Musical Wedding Toast: To Life!

by  Kate Bigam

Lin-Manuel Miranda isn’t Jewish; neither is his new wife, Vanessa. But the 30-year old Puerto Rican composer obviously has a taste for musicals: He’s best known for writing and starring in the popular Broadway musical In the Heights, which has won four Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

Pomegranate Taboulleh

Eating Jewish: Recipes for a tasty Tu B’Shevat table

by  Katherine Romanow

Although there are no specific dishes that have traditionally been prepared for Tu B’Shevat, the custom of serving dishes that contain fruits and nuts has emerged.

Trees

Put a Jewish woman in environmental activism "On the Map!"

by  Leah Berkenwald

Next week is Tu B'Shevat, the Jewish birthday for trees. The meaning of the holiday has undergone some major evolution over the years; it started as a tax deadline, was co-opted by Kabbalists and then the Zionists, and is now considered a holiday celebrating the environment and environmental activism in a broad sense. At the Jewish Women's Archive, our Tu B'Shevat tradition is to seek out and celebrate Jewish women who have dedicated their lives to environmental activism.

Project Frumway, 2011

Frum, fashion, and feminism

by  Kate Bigam

Jewish designers are a staple on the fashion scene – famous names like Zac Posen, Isaac Mizrahi, Max Azria, Kenneth Cole, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Diane Von Furstenberg, Ralph Lauren are all members of the tribe. A few years ago, Slate even published a story called “The Rise of Schmatte Chic”, which chronicled the fleeting trend of Orthodox Jewish influence in runway fashion.

Debbie Friedman

By Spirit Alone: Remembering Debbie Friedman

by  Judith Rosenbaum

Tonight I drove home to Boston with Debbie Friedman's memorial service streaming live on my phone.

Rabbi Alysa Stanton with Gail Reimer, 2010

Alysa Stanton, First Black Female Rabbi, Will Leave N.C. Congregation

by  Gabrielle Birkner

Alysa Stanton, who made headlines when she became the country’s first black woman rabbi, will be leaving her Greenville, N.C. pulpit — after the congregation that hired her less than two years ago decided not to renew her contract. Stanton said the decision to leave was not hers, and that she fully intends to serve out the duration of her contract, which expires July 31, 2011.

"A Jewish Wedding" by Jozef Israëls, 1903

What makes a marriage?

by  Leah Berkenwald

A couple weeks ago, while visiting my parents over the holidays, I overheard something very disturbing. As I made my way from the dining room (occupied by the younger generation) back to the kitchen for a second helping of Indian takeout, I overheard my mother say to the table, "You know, I'm not opposed to arranged marriage."

"I'll be Jewish for Christmas"

by  Leah Berkenwald

Last week I wrote a blog post about the "Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah" issue. But now I'm thinking we should all just disregard what I wrote because today I found this video of Katie Goodman of Broad Comedy singing "I'll be Jewish for Christmas," and it says everything I wanted to say and more. In song.

Enjoy!

Who is Yalta?

by From the Rib

This weekend has been very exciting for me–the synagogue that my family belongs to is hosting Sara Hurwitz as a guest speaker. For those of you haven’t heard of her: after studying for seven years at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, she was given the title of “maharat” by Rabbi Avi Weiss (an Orthodox rabbi) in March 2009, and deemed a Jewish spiritual and halachic leader.

The Adoption and Jewish Identity Project

by  Renee Ghert-Zand

Dr. Jayne Guberman felt two things when her adopted daughter announced at a pre-Bat Mitzvah family education program eight years ago, “I don’t know how I feel about being Jewish.” Guberman felt it was incredibly courageous of her daughter to share this in public. She also felt very alone as an adoptive parent in the Jewish community.

Raising Up the Light, 2010

Celebrating the First Lights of Women Rabbis

by  Elizabeth Imber

On a cold New England night, as the first flurries of the season began to fall, members of the Jewish community in Boston piled into the sanctuary at Temple Reyim to kindle the lights of Hanukkah and celebrate four remarkable Jewish women. Sally Priesand, Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, Amy Eilberg, and Sara Hurwitz, the first-ordained North American Reform, Reconstructionist, and Conservative women rabbis and Open Orthodox rabba, respectively, gathered together for the first time, in an event cosponsored by the Jewish Women’s Archive, to share their inspirational stories, to celebrate the progress that has been made across the Jewish movements, and to discuss what still needs to be done.

Judith and the Hanukkah Story

by  Leah Berkenwald

You have probably heard of Judah and the Maccabees, but what about Judith?  At one time, the story of Judith—a young widow who slew the Assyrian general and led the Israelites to victory—was considered an important part of the Hanukkah narrative.

Vivian Finkel, 1921 - 2009

Vivian had presence. And she had style, coming to work every weekday afternoon and Shabbat morning dressed to the nines and fully coiffed. She was from the generation of religious school teachers who not only championed the teaching of the Hebrew language to American Jewish students (and successfully taught it to them), but also viewed themselves as true professionals.

Savina J. Teubal, 1926 - 2005

Savina reclaimed the stories of Sarah and Hagar through her writing, and through her life. Like Sarah, Savina went forth into new lands, without maps or mentors to guide her. Like Sarah and Hagar, Savina lived in a patriarchal world, challenging that world with her choices and her clarity about the work she was called to complete….

Betty Lee Hahn, 1932 - 2006

Buz Hahn lived life the way she wanted, standing up for what was right, kneeling down to lend a hand and always, always getting the most out of every experience. When Buz died earlier this year at age 74, there were tears, of course. But there were no regrets for opportunities squandered. Nobody could say she lived anything less than a full and fantastic life.

Ruby Blue, 1918 - 2008

Given the Indian name of Neeladevi by her guru in the late l960s, she became Swami Neeladevananda at her investiture in Orleans, France in 2005. Neeladevi or Neeladevananda, Ruby Blue always remained a Jew and lit sabbath candles every Friday night.

The scary subtext of "rethinking egalitarianism"

by  Leora Jackson

Last week in the Forward, Jay Michaelson writes about the need to rethink egalitarianism.  Egalitarian synagogues, he says, tend to be egalitarian in only one way: everyone is equally bored.  (“Egalitarian” in American Jewish life has historically referred to prayer services where men and women can both participate fully and take on leadership roles.)  He talks about friends who attend Orthodox prayer services because they find more meaning in the service, and about how attempts at inclusiveness and egalitarianism often translate into long responsive readings in English where nobody really believes a word.

First Torah commissioned to be scribed entirely by women is read in Seattle

October 16, 2010

On October 16, 2010, the Kadima Reconstructionist Jewish Community in Seattle read from the first Torah ever commissioned to be written by a group of women.

Comparative Religion Isn't Just for Academics

by From the Rib

An interesting article popped up on the side of The New York Times recently--an article about the lack of knowledge among Americans about religion, including about their own. The article discussed the fact that on average, Americans were only able to correctly answer 50% of the questions on a recent survey by the Pew Research Center on the teachings and history of major world religions.

The Jewish Press Must Not Kowtow to Religious Homophobia

by  Leah Berkenwald

On October 4, the New Jersey Jewish Standard published an apology for printing a same-sex wedding announcement. In that apology, the paper’s editor, Rebecca Boroson, made it clear that the decision to stop running same-sex wedding announcements, and the apology, was in response to pressure from the so-called "traditional/Orthodox" Jewish community. Thanks to the internet, the outrage felt at this editorial decision was felt across the nation.

Subscribe to Spirituality and Religious Life

Donate

Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

The JWA Podcast

Can We Talk?

listen now

Get JWA in your inbox