Thu, 04/03/2014 - 4:05pm -- JOFA

By Eden Farber

A crisp fall morning. A march of beautiful, resonating voices. Joyous celebratory dancing. Tears; tears of both simhah and longing for more. One Torah reading by women, for women. 

TorahFor the first time ever, this year my shul held a for-women-by-women Torah reading for Simhat Torah. Practicing with the Torah the day before yom tov, I was excited to have the opportunity to leyn again—this was something I’ve done before and feel is one of my most connected religious experiences. Yet what made me emotional was not when I stood at...

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Thu, 04/03/2014 - 4:05pm -- JOFA

Allie Alperovich

JOFA Treasurer and Board Member Allie Alperovich received the honor of being “Kallat Bereishit” this year at her synagogue, Darkhei Noam,www.dnoam.org, on the holiday of Simchat Torah. Ms. Alperovich, 36, is an attorney at Ropes and Gray and mother of two who was named one of "36 under 36" Jewish leaders by the Jewish Week in 2011.  She is an...

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Thu, 04/03/2014 - 4:05pm -- JOFA

By Elana Sztokman

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Thu, 04/03/2014 - 4:05pm -- JOFA

By Rachel Lieberman

As I traveled down to the Lower East Side on Friday morning, I saw a startling version of Manhattan. Buildings and traffic lights were dark. A few stores were open, and operating by candle light. Army trucks were positioned on the streets.  Shuttle buses were packed to the gills, unable to stop to pick up passengers waiting on the streets. Hydrants outside of buildings were open, with a trickle of water, so that residents without water could gather a pail of water. Lines snaked around multiple blocks as people stood in line for drinking water, ice, food and a chance to charge their cellphones. It was an incredibly grim, disorienting, and heartbreaking picture—a majestic city paralyzed.

But the...

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Thu, 04/03/2014 - 4:05pm -- JOFA

By Hannah Hashkes

In loving memory of my aunt, Sarah Vakshtok, and my cousin, Rachel Toiber, beautiful women.

This week’s parashaHayyei Sarah, begins with the count of Sarah’s days, a rare occurrence where women are concerned in the Torah: וַיִּהְיוּ חַיֵּי שָׂרָה מֵאָה שָׁנָה וְעֶשְׂרִים שָׁנָה וְשֶׁבַע שָׁנִים שְׁנֵי חַיֵּי שָׂרָה. 

And the life of Sarah was one hundred years and twenty years and seven years, the years of the life of Sarah.  

But stating the length of Sarah’s life is not the only unusual feature of the verse. A similar structure is used in the reports of Avraham’s and Yitzhak’s deaths as well...

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Thu, 04/03/2014 - 4:05pm -- JOFA

By Joanne Kamens Niewood

Shaarei TefillahOne of the first special events of the Shaarei Tefillah Women’s Tefillah Group (WTG) was a Bat Mitzvah. Since that time, girls and young women in our kahal (congregation) have actively participated in many aspects of ritual including leading Shabbat services, reading Torah, participating in a women’s Simchat Torah service, and reading from Megilot Esther, Eichah and Ruth. We have also developed an innovative Bat Mitzvah tutoring program where older girls (15 and older) have the opportunity to teach the younger girls for...

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Thu, 04/03/2014 - 4:05pm -- JOFA

By Chavie Kahn

The Hampton Synagogue in Westhampton Beach, New York held its first Women’s Tefillah Group on August 18, 2012 in celebration of my daughter Sarina Kofman’s Bat Mitzvah.  In short, a part of my Jewish dream for my daughter came true.

My daughter had the opportunity to leyn for the first time in her life, as did I. As it was both Rosh Chodesh Elul and Shabbat, Sarina chanted Hallel andleyned the first aliyah of Parashat Re’eh, the maftir aliyah for Rosh Chodesh and the haftarah for Rosh Chodesh.   The remainder of the aliyot were chanted by close female family members and friends. 

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Thu, 04/03/2014 - 4:05pm -- JOFA

We at JOFA are deeply disappointed by the recent comments of Israeli Knesset candidate Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan, former head of the Jerusalem rabbinical court, who claims that there is no real problem of agunot, but merely a problem caused by "women's groups" that are trying to unfairly besmirch the Rabbinical Court with supposedly fabricated claims of gett refusal. These statements may serve Rabbi Dahan well in his bid for a Knesset seat, but they reflect a short-sighted and misogynistic view of women's real lives.

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Thu, 04/03/2014 - 4:05pm -- JOFA

By Dr. Ruti Feuchtwanger

“The sword without, and terror within” (Deut. 32:25)

On November 18, the fifth day of Operation "Pillar of Cloud”, the body of a fifty-year-old woman was found dead in her home in Ofakim. The police suspect that she was killed by her spouse. Many people have never heard of this story – even an internet search comes up with very few results, all with few details, (like this one http://www.mako.co.il/news-law/crime/Article-7749585b2331b31004.htm&Partner=rss) and not a single news item in English.

It is hard not to compare the coverage of this death with the coverage of the...

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Thu, 04/03/2014 - 4:05pm -- JOFA

Israel Panel

By Debra Nussbaum Cohen 

Nearly every month, it seems, there is troubling news relating to the status of women in Israel. Late last year it was women forced to sit at the back of public buses, and then Haredim attacking schoolgirls in Beit Shemesh for being insufficiently modest. In October the leader of Women of the Wall was arrested...

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