By Hannah Hashkes
In loving memory of my aunt, Sarah Vakshtok, and my cousin, Rachel Toiber, beautiful women.
This week’s parasha, Hayyei 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...
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.
by JOFA Staff
If anyone is looking for proof that women’s advanced Talmud learning has come of age, the August 6 Modern Orthodox Siyum Hashas was it. The packed crowd at Congregation Shearith Israel (The Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue) in Manhattan was full of women and men from different backgrounds learning together in a colorful array of classes and sessions taught by both women and men. The celebration, which was coordinated by Rabbi Dov Linzer and proudly co-sponsored by JOFA along with many modern Orthodox...
Young Jewish Women Leaders Bring in the New Year with the JOFA Campus Fellowship's Leadership Seminar
by JOFA Staff
The next generation of Orthodox feminist leaders kicked off the New Year on Sunday with an intense leadership development seminar. The JOFA Campus Fellowship is an innovative JOFA program that cultivates leadership among outstanding young Orthodox women. The JOFA Campus Fellows gathered for a day of seminars, lectures and workshops about promoting a feminist consciousness in the Orthodox community, as well as riveting talks from some of the women whose life work has been dedicated to advancing Jewish women.
Dr. Ali Yares, the new JOFA Associate Director, brings with her a decade of Jewish organizational experience and a doctorate in communication design. The 31-year-old mother of two, who did her undergraduate degrees in the joint Columbia University JTS program, recently moved from Baltimore, Maryland, to Syosset, New York, in order to work at JOFA. She spoke to the JOFA Spotlight team about her ideas, impressions, and dreams:
by JOFA Staff
The “Ushpizin”, literally “guests”, is a Jewish custom to invite the spirits of our ancestors into the Sukkah during the seven nights of the traditional holiday (eight in the Diaspora). The Ushpizin represent the commandment to open one’s house to poor people, as well as the more kabbalistic idea that each guest has a unique character trait or energy that we would like to invite into our lives, families, communities and world. The seven traditional Ushpizin are all men. Over the past few years, women have created parallel rituals to invite “Ushpizot”, women spiritual guests, each night a different woman. Although some Ushpizot texts use the seven women who are traditionally believed to have been prophetesses,...
by JOFA Staff
The women of the Orthodox community of Atlanta, Georgia, are going to be celebrating Simchat Torah like they have never celebrated before – and it’s all thanks to the hard work and vision of a young woman who led the way. Fifteen-year-old Eden Farber wanted more opportunities for women’s ritual inclusion, and spent the past six months working with her rabbi and community in a series of events that will be culminating with the first ever women’s Torah reading on Simchat Torah at the Young Israel of Toco Hills.
Eden, who studies...
Back row l to r: Prof. Tamar Ross, Judy Heicklen, Ariel Braun, Belda Lindenbaum
Front row l to r: Dr. Hannah Kehat, Rachel Keren, Blu Greenberg, Ricky Shapira-Rosenberg, Ayelet Weider-Cohen, Dr. Tova Hartman, Dr. Elana Sztokman
Tell me that you’re surprised.
Since last February when the creators of MAKERS launched their website to spotlight the women who’ve changed the face of America and the world, quite of few of these trailblazers turn out to be Jewish.