Because of my upbringing, the gender separation at my cousin Zoe’s bat mitzvah came to me as a shock. Why couldn’t I stand with my dad and all my male cousins? Why wasn’t Zoe reading Torah like all the other girls I knew did at their bat mitzvah services?
Despite the despair that comes easily these days, we must continue to believe that change is possible and that we have the responsibility to bring it about. Thankfully, we find ourselves at a moment when there is one obvious way to exercise this responsibility—in these final days of the election season, we must dedicate ourselves to getting out the vote.
Watching Patty Jenkins’s 2017 film Wonder Woman was nothing short of a transformative experience. It was a victory, glorious and all-consuming, and it was my victory. I was the hero. And as I sat in that theater, tongue dry with over-buttered popcorn and stale air, I cried.
I remember being four years old and writing notes to God to put into the fake Kotel we had constructed at my preschool. It was about three feet tall and made out of colorful building blocks, but to me, that was as good as it got.
Before it was safe for me to use matches, I remember looking forward to the first Shabbat when I could light my own candles. Now, when I light the candles on Friday nights, I feel empowered. I feel as if my mother and I are physically bringing Shabbat into our home as we strike our matches and light our candles.
For too long some Jews have held onto the belief that abuse “just doesn’t happen” in the Jewish community. We, as Jews, are “better than that.” Nice Jewish boys don’t abuse anyone. But unfortunately, many of us know that this simply isn’t the case.
Now that I’m out in the secular world, I have to decide what Judaism really means to me. I have to distinguish between the things that are actually important to me and the things I’ve just done out of habit.
My family, being more progressive than most in our community, are strong believers in women reading from the Torah. My older sister, Jennie, read Torah at Robinson’s Arch, the egalitarian section of the Western Wall, for her Bat Mitzvah, so it was a given that I would do the same.
Video games are inherently sexist. I’ve accepted this fact as true and immutable ever since I began playing multiplayer games. From the way they’re marketed towards boys and the sexist character designs, to the anonymous players’ offensive language, everything about video games seems to scream at me: YOU ARE NOT MEANT TO BE HERE!
This summer, no movie captured our hearts like Netflix's To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Rafaella Rabinovich, the costume designer responsible for film's iconic looks, discusses the most popular outfits from the movie and the importance of representation in film.
Rabbi Leah Berkowitz reflects on Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee and explores the pressure placed on women to be "nice," even at the expense of their own wellbeing and safety.
Why is it important to amplify the voices of Jewish women? Because in a society that has historically refused women the right to speak and deemed our stories unimportant, it is a radical act to communicate our experiences.
JWA Executive Director Judith Rosenbaum interviewed Rabbi Sandy Sasso about her 2018 children’s book, about the world’s first woman rabbi. Watch their fascinating conversation here, and learn about Regina Jonas’s legacy and impact on Rabbi Sasso and the other women rabbis who followed in her footsteps.
Alicia Jo Rabins’s second poetry collection, Fruit Geode, is a searingly personal account of making the transition to motherhood as a Jewish woman in the early years of the millenium. Exclusively for JWA, Rabins reflects on her inspiration and creative process for two selected poems.
People view forgiveness as the secret to healing, as if it isn’t a long painful process of flashbacks, relapsing, shame, medication, and therapy, as if there’s some easy way to heal that I have been too prideful to consider. To view forgiveness as the apex of survivors’ progress trivializes each person’s individual struggle.
As soon as I mentioned Birthright, my sister seemed to know exactly where our conversation was headed. “I’ve been meaning to ask you about that, too,” she said, reminding me that despite being my younger sister she always seems to be one step ahead of me.
As a former Gender Studies major, I have a lot of hang-ups about the concept of building a home. ... I don’t know what kind of Jewish household I’m going to run yet—but I do know the joys of tradition, both old and new, are hardwired in me.
The “first female rabbi in a full-time congregational position in Cape Town” will not look and sound like other women rabbis. She will look and sound like me, because I am her. And because the only way I can authentically answer the question is to just keep being me; keep being the rabbi I already am (and am proud to be).