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Prayer

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Lisa Feld at the Kotel

Celebrating the New Moon in Jerusalem

by  Merle Feld

Activist and writer Merle Feld recounts a harrowing experience praying at the Kotel with Women of the Wall.

Silhouette of a Girl

Fixing the Flaws in Perfection

by Ilana Jacobs

Every “perfect girl” I have ever met has been so humble, that they can turn a compliment into self-deprecation. It is so unbearably heartbreaking to me that these girls who are so marvelous all don’t know how marvelous they are. But the truly terrifying truth is that their humility and self-consciousness seem to be an essential part of being the “perfect girl.”

Ruby Russell at the Kotel

Am I Welcome at the Wall?

by Ruby Russell

The first time I visited the Kotel (Western Wall), I cried. I know, this is nothing unusual. This historic place often invokes intense spiritual connection or deep reflection from its visitors, moving them to tears. I was certainly overcome by emotion, but for a completely different set of reasons.

Girl Blowing Shofar

The Harm of Tshuvah: A Letter from an Abuse Survivor

by Rachel Silverman

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.

Cantor Alisa Pomerantz-Boro

Blazing a Trail, One Note at a Time

by Sofia Gardenswartz

I’ve always considered words to hold a certain power. As the old saying goes, “the pen is mightier than the sword.” So, when I was sitting in the front row as my little brother was called to the Torah for the first time as a bar mitzvah, something struck me about the language of the event. Usually, the English translation in the siddurim (prayer books) follows the literal Hebrew on the opposite page, reading “God” for “Adonai” and “He” for “Hu.” But in the readings that day, God was genderless. The biblical Hebrew that has been passed down for millennia wasn’t changed, but the English translation avoided the use of any pronouns that would invoke gender. 

Rising Voices Fellow Dorrit Corwin with her Grandfather

L’Dor V’Dor: A Legacy of Love

by Dorrit Corwin

My grandfather means something different to each and every person he’s met. To some, he’s kindness, always putting others before himself no matter the circumstances. To others, he’s community, building a network so wide that everyone he runs into is an old friend. To his parents, he was a miracle, not predicted to survive long past birth, or live to create all that he has in his lifetime. To me, he’s all of these things stitched together into one simple phrase: L’dor v’dor (from generation to generation).

Elaine Zecher

Rabbi Elaine Zecher’s own experiences as a breast cancer survivor have shaped both her career as a congregational rabbi and her work in helping create new rituals to honor both illness and healing.

Julie Schonfeld

As the first female executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly, the professional organization for Conservative rabbis, Julie Schonfeld has helped shape the Conservative movement’s approach to prayer as well as its response to world politics.

Dalia Marx

As a professor of liturgy at the Jerusalem campus of Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion, where students from around the world learn to become Reform rabbis, Dalia Marx is helping to shape how a new generation approaches prayer.

Joy Levitt

Rabbi Joy Levitt earned high honors as the first female head of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association (RRA), then continued to shape the movement after her term’s end, through her inclusive approach to both prayer and politics.

Elaine Zecher

Rabbi Elaine Zecher uses her own experiences of illness and struggle to counsel congregants and craft prayers for Mishkan T’fillah and Mishkan HaNefesh, the prayer books of the Reform Movement.

Dalia Marx

In teaching liturgy to rabbinical students from around the world, Rabbi Dalia Marx is shaping how the next generation of rabbis interprets the tradition.

Joy Levitt

Rabbi Joy Levitt helped shape the Reconstructionist movement as the first female head of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association (RRA).
Sunrise over a Lake

The Power of My Daily Renewal

by Hannah Himmelgreen

After long afternoons turn into endless evenings and restless nights, I still wake up in the morning feeling wholly replenished. With the ring of my alarm clock comes the thought that I can take on the day, no matter how tired I am. 

"Shelo Asani Isha" Blessing

The Oxymoron of Jewish Feminism

by Abigail Fisher

I had fallen so deeply in love with Jewish text study that I neglected to see the many ways in which I was not represented in those texts. The tension became clear: How could I honor  a tradition that did not make space for me as a female? 

Henrietta Szold on Saying Kaddish

In a 1916 letter, Henrietta Szold (the founder of Hadassah) defied Jewish tradition and challenged rituals that exclude women by asserting her right to say Kaddish (the Jewish prayer for mourners).

Ray Frank's Yom Kippur Sermon, 1890

Read the 1890 Yom Kippur sermon by Ray Frank, the first Jewish woman to preach formally from a pulpit, and consider what unites and divides the Jewish people both historically and today.

Tefillin Barbie: Considering Gender and Ritual Garb

Using the provocative image of "Tefillin Barbie"—created in 2006 by soferet (ritual scribe) Jen Taylor Friedman—examine the relationship between gender, body image, and ritual garb.

Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

As dean of Hebrew College, Sharon Cohen Anisfeld has struck a rare balance between overseeing the seminary as a whole and connecting with each of her students on a personal level.

Jill Hammer

Jill Hammer co-founded the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute to offer women alternative ways of connecting with Jewish tradition by focusing on the sacredness of the body and the earth.

Deborah Brin

Deborah Brin, one of the first openly gay rabbis, led the first prayer service for Women of the Wall at the Conference for the Empowerment of Jewish Women in 1988.
Marcia Falk

May You Be Blessed In All That You Are

by Eliana Gayle-Schneider

Each Shabbat my parents bless me with the words, “Be who you are and may you be blessed in all that you are.” These words have been embedded in my mind as my family’s traditional blessing, signifying the start of Shabbat.  While other families bless their children saying, “May God make you like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah,” this alternative prayer has been our way of welcoming the Sabbath for as long as I can remember. 

Rivka Haut, 1942 - 2014

Rivka got me to other agunah rallies, including a pitiful one with five other women circling the tiny front yard of a Manhattan brownstone. It was my last agunah rally but not Rivka’s. She never gave up and never turned down a request for help. For her, it was about justice and compassion, not numbers.

Penina Moïse

Penina Moïse shaped Jewish culture through her poetry as the first woman poet included in an American prayer book.

Mordecai Kaplan

The founder of Reconstructionist Judaism, Mordecai Kaplan struck a fundamental blow for women’s participation in Jewish ritual with the bat mitzvah of his eldest daughter, Judith.
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