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

By Ricki Heicklen 

Ricki Heicklen picThe Jewish people have been encountering walls for nearly as long as we have existed. These walls have ranged from physical barriers–the ghettoization of Jews throughout Europe comes to mind–to a broader feeling of separation and isolation from the outside world. And despite being walled in, fenced out, or generally forced onto the “other side” of any non-Jewish community, Jews have endured and prospered.

Most recently, the Jewish people re-acquired a wall of our own. The Western Wall, the last remaining fortification of...

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

By Dina Brawer

JOFA UKThey came from all across London on an unseasonably cold and blustery night. Many of the women and men who attended the launch of JOFA UK on Tuesday night spoke of feeling present at an historic and momentous occasion. JOFA UK ambassador Dina Brawer who organised the event introduced the evening by framing the definitions of Orthodoxy and Feminism. She also gave a moving account of how JOFA helped her embark on her own Orthodox feminist journey and spoke of the many outstanding women she met through JOFA who continue to be a deep source of inspiration. JOFA in the UK sets...

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

Rori Picker NeissBy Rori Picker Neiss

Moses, the hero (at least flesh-and-blood hero) of our Passover story, has only a singular mention in the entire Passover Haggadah-- within the context of a biblical quote.

On some level, this fact should not be surprising to us. Moses is well-known for his humility. Famously, in the Bible, when God first revealed Godself to Moses at the burning bush, “Moses hid his face - ויסתר משה פניו” (Exodus 3:6). In fact, the Midrash in Leviticus Rabbah (Vilna 1:5) teaches that it was for that reason, for Moses’s very...

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

Hinda EisenBy Hinda Tzivia Eisen

My junior year at Boston University, I produced a painting as the final project for a class about the literary afterlife of the book of Genesis. The day of the presentation, my class was given the opportunity to interpret my work before I was to give its explanation. I remember that some of what my classmates read into my painting was spot-on: the colors I had chosen, the positioning of the imagery, the symbols. Other ideas that they read into it jived with the message I was trying to send but hadn’t been intended. Still one or two interpretations of my...

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

Rachel LiebermanBy Rachel Lieberman

The bechor, the firstborn son, is a prominent theme on Passover. The bechor appears in the Haggadah, in the Torah readings for Passover and in the customs that surround the holiday. Makat haBechorot, the tenth plague where God slew the Egyptians’ firstborn sons and saved the Israelites’ sons is so significant that it is given as an answer for the redemption from Egypt.

God commands, “When your children say to you, ‘What is this service to you?’ You will say, ‘It is the Pascal sacrifice to God, who passed over...

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

By Naama Goldberg

The holiday of freedom sets the tone for the entire month of Nisan –  the month of freedom – during which time the concept of freedom is expressed through a whole range of halachot, especially some of those connected to Seder night. The Mishnah in Pesachim  (10:1) reads: “On the night of Passover ….. even the poorest of Israel shall not eat until he reclines, and shall drink no less than four cups of wine, even if it comes from the tamhui (soup kitchen)”

One of the laws that most emphatically expresses the idea of freedom on Seder night is that of reclining. According to Rambam, “We are commanded to eat while reclining in order to eat the way of kings and great men, the way of freedom...

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

BJ Israel PanelOver 100 people gathered in the community room at B’nai Jeshuran synagogue on New York’s Upper West Side on Sunday, March 10th for a unique program marking International Women’s Day.  The program was part of a month-long observance of Women’s History Month that the AZM and WZO jointly mark as “FeminIsrael.  Each year FeminIsrael explores the challenges facing Israeli women and celebrates their accomplishments and the accomplishments of women worldwide.

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

Leah SlatenBy Leah Slaten

Leyning (chanting Torah) permanently shifted my relationship with Judaism.  When I learned to leyn last year, I felt more connected to Tanakh (Bible), and to my Jewish heritage, than I ever had previously, knowing that for the first time I was participating fully in a ritual that had been passed down for millennia.  I never considered myself especially feminist, so before my friend Ricki offered to teach me how to leyn, I never would have thought about leyning as a possibility for me.  I was never particularly bothered...

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

Micki Lavin-PellBy Micki Lavin-Pell

Women’s roles in Jewish life have been evolving and changing throughout the course of history. Many changes in the world such as environmental, technological, and social have enabled women to create and take on new and exciting roles. Changes relate to how women wish to be perceived both by themselves, through the eyes of other women and through the eyes of men. This is strongly interlinked with what contributions they wish to make both within their homes and communities, and within society at large. Roles that women play are also influenced by how they...

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

By Rachel Stafler

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