Religion: Prayer

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Sarah Bas Tovim

Sarah bas Tovim (Sore bas toyvim), daughter of Mordecai (or daughter of Isaac or Jacob, as sometimes listed on the title pages of various editions of her works), of Satanov in Podolia, in present-day Ukraine, great-granddaughter of Rabbi Mordecai of Brisk (on this, all editions agree), became the emblematic tkhine [q.v.] author, and one of her works, Shloyshe sheorim, perhaps the most beloved of all tkhines.

Gracia Nasi Family Tree

Conversas

The forced conversions of the Jews in Spain that occurred in 1391 changed the face of Spanish Jewry as well as of Spanish history. The random attacks on Jewish communities throughout the country resulted in destruction of property, loss of life and general havoc. Whereas there had previously been Jews and Catholics, now there were Jews, Catholics and converts or conversos. Some of the converts continued to live a Jewish life to the best of their abilities, despite the fact that they now had to attend church and abide by its dogma. Others opted to live as Christians in the hope that new opportunities would await them. Yet others wavered between the two religious lifestyles or opted to follow neither. During the first half of the fifteenth century, the original group of conversos was joined by disillusioned Jews who chose to convert and others who were persuaded to do so in the wake of the rigged Disputation of Tortosa (1413–1414). In the long run, the converso population changed tremendously after nearly a third of the total remaining Jewish population chose to convert in 1492 rather than to face exile. In other words, by the end of the fifteenth century the converso community included descendants of the original forced converts of 1391, descendants of voluntary converts, Jews who chose to remain in Spain as Catholics and even some exiles who returned home within seven years of the fateful decree.

Dulcea of Worms

Dulcea of Worms came from the elite leadership class of medieval German Jewry. She was the daughter of a cantor and the wife of a major rabbinic figure, Rabbi Eleazar ben Judah of Worms (1165–1230), also known as the Roke’ah (the Perfumer), after the title of one of his most famous works (Sefer ha-Roke’ah). Dulcea and her husband were members of a small pietistic circle of Jews, the Hasidei Ashkenaz, that developed following the devastations of the First Crusade of 1096. The documents of this movement include many mystical works, as well as a volume reflecting their ethical concerns, Sefer Hasidim (The Book of the Pious), an important historical source for everyday Jewish life in medieval Ashkenaz. R. Eleazar ben Judah may have written some of the passages in Sefer Hasidim, and could have been its editor.

Esther: Apocrypha

The Greek version of the Hebrew Bible Book of Esther is designated Additions to Esther and pre-serves many details of the Hebrew account. Its portrayal of Esther herself, however, is appreciably different, primarily because of Additions C and D (Add Esth 13:8–14:19; 15:1–16). The Additions to Esther consist of six extended passages (107 verses) that have no counterpart in the Hebrew version. They are numbered as chaps 11–16, designated A–F, and added to the Hebrew text at various places. Another important “addition” to Greek Esther is the mention of God’s name over fifty times. This has the effect of making the story explicitly religious, in sharp contrast to the Hebrew text, which does not mention God at all. The Additions, which probably were not composed at the same time by the same person, can be dated to the second or first centuries b.c.e. because of their literary style, theology, and anti-gentile spirit.

Marcia Falk

Marcia Falk

Marcia Falk is a poet, translator and liturgist whose knowledge of the Bible and of Hebrew and English literature informs the feminist spiritual vision present in her work. A practicing artist who brings a painter’s sense of visual imagery and balance to her writing, she is currently working on oil pastels to accompany passages from her books.

Festivals and Holy Days

This essay describes in general terms central ordinances and customary practices regarding women’s observance of the festivals and holy days of the Jewish calendar as recorded in the Shulhan Arukh and other The legal corpus of Jewish laws and observances as prescribed in the Torah and interpreted by rabbinic authorities, beginning with those of the Mishnah and Talmud.halakhic sources.

Rose Goldstein

An early advocate of increased rights and responsibilities for women in Jewish life, Rose Goldstein was a prominent leader in the National Women’s League of the United Synagogue of America (now known as Women’s League for Conservative Judaism).

Hannah: Bible

The narrative in 1 Samuel 1–2, in which Hannah is protagonist, is set in the late premonarchic period (eleventh century b.c.e.). It opens obliquely with the introduction of her husband, Elkanah, who is identified by name, location, and extensive genealogy. Elkanah’s two wives conclude the exposition, and they are presented without genealogy. The significance of the women lies in their relationship to Elkanah and in their childbearing capacity: “The name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children” (1:2).

Hannah: Midrash and Aggadah

Hannah is depicted by the Rabbis as a righteous woman who was devout in her observance of the commandments, especially those of pilgrimage to the Tabernacle, Menstruation; the menstruant woman; ritual status of the menstruant woman.niddah (the laws governing family purity), the taking of During the Temple period, the dough set aside to be given to the priests. In post-Temple times, a small piece of dough set aside and burnt. In common parlance, the braided loaves blessed and eaten on the Sabbath and Festivals.hallah from dough, and the kindling of the Sabbath lights.

Leah Horowitz

Sarah Rebecca Rachel Leah Horowitz, author of Tkhinne imohes (Supplication of the Matriarchs), was the daughter of Jacob Yokl ben Meir Ha-Levi Horowitz (1680–1755) and Reyzel bat Heshl. Her father was a member of the famed kloyz of Brody. Leah Horowitz (as she was known) was one of some seven children. Three of her brothers were rabbis, of whom the most eminent was Isaac (known as “Itsikl Hamburger,” 1715–1767), rabbi of Hamburg, Altona and Wandsbeck. There was also a sister, named Pessil. There is some doubt about the identity of another brother and sister. As the sister of eminent brothers, Leah disproves the old canard that the only educated women in her time were the daughters of learned rabbis who had no sons.

Zelda Schneurson Mishkovsky

Israeli Women's Writing in Hebrew: 1948-2004

The achievements of women’s writing in Hebrew rank among the unquestionable triumphs of Israeli feminism. From a (culturally speaking) atypical starting point of almost total exclusion from Hebrew language and literature, Israeli women writers have been able to ascend to a prominent position in the Hebrew literature of the last two decades. In the space of less than fifty years, Israeli literature has undergone a profound process of change, in which women played an important role. The talent of the women writers, coupled with the encouragement of women readers and academics, have helped women’s writing to progress from marginalization to its rightful status. This change, which did not come about easily, was part of the struggle for equality of the sexes in every aspect of Israeli society. Before reviewing the accomplishments and analyzing the processes that produced the change, this article will focus briefly on the obstacles that confronted women authors writing in Hebrew.

Trude Weiss-Rosmarin

Jewish Feminism in the United States

Challenging all varieties of American Judaism, feminism has been a powerful force for popular Jewish religious revival. Of America’s four Jewish denominations, all but the Orthodox have accepted women as rabbis and cantors.

Jewish Women and Jewish Music in America

American Jewish music has expanded vastly in variety, range, and quality of activities. Jews brought to America their secular-folk and sacred-liturgical musical heritage. There has been a renascence of age-old traditions that have become means of self-expression for Jewish women.

Judith: Apocrypha

The Book of Judith (second or early first century b.c.e.) is an imaginative, highly fictionalized, romance that entertains as it edifies. From a literary perspective, the book is an artistic masterpiece, constructed in two parts (1:1–7:32, 8:1–16:25), with each internally ordered by a threefold chiastic pattern. Numerous correspondences between the two halves of the story provide elegant compositional symmetries. The Book of Judith is a story of balance and counter-balance that makes the point that God’s people have all they need to survive if they rely wholeheartedly on the covenant.

Kibbutz Ha-Dati Movement (1929-1948)

Agricultural settlements based on the collective principles of the A voluntary collective community, mainly agricultural, in which there is no private wealth and which is responsible for all the needs of its members and their families.kibbutz were among the outstanding enterprises of the Zionist movement. While agricultural settlement was an important value in religious Zionism as well, those members of the religious Zionist movement who joined collective settlements constituted a unique group.

Ludomir, Maid of

A semi-legendary figure, reputed to have been one of the few Women in Hasidism who functioned as a fully-fledged spiritual master (Zaddik or Rebbe). Most of the information about her originates in oral traditions of “old women in Volhynia,” first collected and published in 1909 by the historian Samuel Abba Horodezky (1871–1987). These were subsequently subjected to his own as well as others’ elaborations and expansions, which appeared in a variety of popular-historical, belletristic, journalistic and memoiristic works. Significantly, the hagiographical literature of nineteenth-century hasidism makes no mention whatever of her, nor is any mystical or ethical teaching attributed to her in other genres of hasidic writing. She is, however, mentioned briefly in an 1883 satirical work by a female/sing.: Member of the Haskalah movement.maskil and, following the publication of Horodezky’s reports, in a handful of twentieth-century hagiographical anthologies.

Matriarchs: A Liturgical and Theological Category

Among egalitarian religious congregations throughout the world, the most popular addition to the traditional liturgy is the mention of the Matriarchs in birkat avot (the blessing of the ancestors), the opening blessing of the Amidah.

Mother of Micah: Bible

A woman living in the hill country of Ephraim in the period of the judges discovers that eleven hundred pieces of silver have been stolen from her. She then utters a curse (Hebrew alah) in the hearing of her son Micah, who is the thief.

Cover of "Stunden der Andacht" ("Hours of Devotion")

Fanny Neuda

In contrast to the earlier works, which were mainly composed by men, Fanny Neuda’s Stunden der Andacht (Hours of Devotion) was probably the first prayer book for Jewish women in the nineteenth century written by a woman.

Observance of Mitzvot: Custom and Halakhah

Numerous accounts scattered throughout early halakhic literature indicate that women had many traditions and customs of their own. Their religious life was characterized by a degree of independence and was not exclusively dependent on external halakhic norms. The manner in which women observed mitzvot was extremely influential in the formative stage of halakhah, before it was crystallized, recorded and sealed in the Shulhan Arukh.

Rabbi Ben-Zion Meir Hai Ouziel

R. Ben-Zion Hai Ouziel wrote extensively on religious, communal and national subjects, as well as Jewish philosophy, his articles appearing in several newspapers and journals. His election as the Sephardic Chief Rabbi (the Rishon le-Zion) carried a concurrent appointment to the Va’ad Le’ummi (National Council of Jews of Palestine) and he participated in the sessions in which the Jewish Agency was founded.

Cynthia Ozick

Poetry in the United States

The contributions of Jewish women poets to American literary history and political activism, as well as to the enrichment of Jewish culture and practice, are astounding.

Poland: Early Modern (1500-1795)

With the gender role definition for Jewish women in Poland being subtly and haltingly stretched and broadened as this period progressed, it does seem appropriate to call it the early modern period.

Rashi

Rashi (Rabbi Solomon ben Isaac, 1040–1105) is considered the greatest Jewish scholar of medieval times in Ashkenaz (Germany, France and England). It is doubtful whether we can find another Jewish scholar active at the time who was willing to make changes for the benefit of women’s rights even where halakhic and aggadic sources were not kindly disposed towards them. True, he sometimes accepted prejudicial opinions about women in the sources, but his relatively tolerant and considerate attitude towards women is worthy of note.

Mathilde Schechter

Mathilde Schechter

Mathilde Roth Schechter, founder of the Women’s League For Conservative Judaism and the wife of Solomon Schechter, the well-known Jewish scholar, was born in Guttentag, a small town in Silesia, and orphaned at an early age.

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