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Midrash and Aggadah

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Collection
Serach bat Asher

How Serach bat Asher Became My Patron Saint

by Leah Berkowitz

My mother had learned a version of the St. Anthony prayer from her Catholic coworkers: St. Anthony, St. Anthony, won’t you look around? Something is lost and must be found. She proceeded to recite this prayer next to the dumpster.

Girls in Trouble: Women's Agency and Power in the Torah

Guest teacher Alicia Jo Rabins introduces two new study guides from her "Girls in Trouble" curriculum. By exploring the stories of the Sotah, and the daughters of Tzelofchad, participants consider women's agency and power in the Torah.

Composite Image of the Book of Miriam by Ellen Frankel

The Five Books of Miriam

by Justine Orlovsky-Schnitzler

At the root of The Five Books of Miriam is our great cultural urge as Jewish people—a desire to question, to be in a constant dialogue with God, with ourselves, and with each other.

Imma Shalom

Known only as the Mother of Peace, Imma Shalom was lauded for navigating the tense relationship between her brother and husband, both venerated Talmudic sages.
Drop of Water Causing a Ripple Effect

The Magnitude of Miriam Through Midrash

by Abigail Fisher

For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled to make the Torah meaningful to me.  In first grade, the boys in my class had already found strong and charismatic role models in Moses, Aaron, Abraham, and countless others. I, and the other girls in my class, were left to search for leaders in soft-spoken and often overlooked sisters and mothers. 

2016-2017 Rising Voices Fellow Eden Olsberg at her Bat Mitzvah

Her mouth opens with wisdom, and words of loving kindness are on her lips

by Eden Olsberg

Laws, tradition, and God are words that typically come to mind when you think of Judaism. In my Bat Mitzvah parsha (Torah reading), Lech Lecha, these words are relevant, but not the ones that stuck out to me.

Timbrel

Leading with Timbrels: Another Side to the Passover Story

by Molly Pifko

Every year, my temple holds a women’s seder on the second night of Passover. This ritual has always been important to me because throughout my Jewish education, I have clung to stories as the basis for my learning. 

Hannah Raises Her Voice

Learn how Hannah attempted to change her life by calling on God for help, and consider the power of asking for what you need or want in your own life.

Sarah's Sacrifice

One of the most famous stories in Genesis is the Binding of Isaac by his father Abraham (the Akeidah, in Hebrew). Sarah, Isaac’s mother, is noticeably absent from the text. Here we consider Sarah’s perspective, and how this foundational event in the Jewish origin story might have affected her.

Lilith Evolved: Writing Midrash

Interrogate the notion of midrash using "The Coming of Lilith" by theologian Judith Plaskow as an example of how contemporary Jewish feminists have created their own midrashim—retellings of biblical stories—to incorporate women's viewpoints into the traditional texts of Judaism.

Ruth's Journey

Learn how Ruth changed her life by making a series of bold choices, and examine how taking risks, small or large, might lead to positive transformations in your own life.

Miriam in the Desert

Consider Miriam’s experience of exile and investigate the parallels between her story and moments of alienation and isolation in your own life.

Sandy Sasso

The first woman rabbi ordained by the Reconstructionist movement, Sandy Eisenberg Sasso has used her career as an award-winning author to change how children and adults think about women in Jewish tradition.

Judith Plaskow

Meet Me at Sinai: An Interview with Judith Plaskow

by  Judith Rosenbaum

JWA's Executive Director Judith Rosenbaum spoke to Judith Plaskow about her groundbreaking work as a Jewish feminist, the unfinished work of feminism, and what she would change about Standing Again at Sinai were it published in 2015.  

Norma Rosen

In her novels and essays, Norma Rosen found new and powerful ways to approach difficult issues from abortion to the Holocaust.

Anita Diamant

Both through her writing and through her work as founding president of Mayyim Hayyim, Anita Diamant has breathed new life into Jewish midrash and rituals.

Sandy Sasso

Sandy Eisenberg Sasso was the first woman rabbi ordained by the Reconstructionist movement, which was one of many firsts in her career.

Lynn Gottlieb

One of the first ten women rabbis, Lynn Gottlieb became a voice for peace between Jews and Muslims.
"The Songs of Joy," by James Jacques Joseph Tissot

The confrontational face of Miriam

by  Susan Reimer-Torn

When we are first introduced to Miriam in the Bible, the times are bleak. The Egyptian Pharaoh has decreed that all baby boys born to the Hebrew slaves be immediately put to death.

Vashti: Midrash and Aggadah

The Rabbis state that Vashti was one of the four women who were enthroned, two of whom ruled over Israel (Jezebel and Athaliah) and two over other peoples (the heathen Semiramis and Vashti) (Esther Rabbah 3:2).

Tamar: Midrash and Aggadah

The Rabbis spare no criticism of Judah and his sons, pointing out the sins that were responsible for their bitter fate, but they display a different attitude toward Tamar. Although her behavior could be interpreted as an act of sexual licentiousness and wantonness, the midrashim defend Tamar and praise her.

Spirituality in the United States

Spirituality can be defined as life lived in the presence of God. It embraces not only traditional and formal modes of religious expression, but also more informal individual and communal efforts to remain mindful of the sacred in all aspects of experience.

Shiphrah: Midrash and Aggadah

Shiphrah (more commonly spelled "Shifra") was one of the two Hebrew midwives (Shiphrah and Puah) who delivered the children of the Israelites during the Egyptian servitude. The Torah chronicles (Ex. 1:15–21) that they disobeyed Pharaoh’s command and did not kill the Israelite male newborns.

Sex

The rabbinic discourse of sex has been at one and the same time both empowering and sharply disabling for women. In constraining all women to be wives and mothers, the possibilities for women’s lives have been severely constrained and to a great extent women’s roles have been denigrated as well.

Sarah: Midrash and Aggadah

Sarah, the first of the four Matriarchs, has come to symbolize motherhood for the entire world, and not only for the people of Israel. The A type of non-halakhic literary activitiy of the Rabbis for interpreting non-legal material according to special principles of interpretation (hermeneutical rules).midrash presents her as a prophet and a righteous woman whose actions are worthy of emulation; she converted Gentiles and drew them into the bosom of Judaism.

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