Do We Really Need the JOFA Conference?

Torino
Via Garibaldi

They overflow the curbs of Eastern Parkway. With their black hats, beards, and suits, they are an inverse image of throngs of people wrapped in talittot (prayer shawls) praying at the Kotel (Western Wall). They come from their postings all over the world to the annual Chabad Kinus Shiluchim. The logistics of assembling them for the annual photograph boggles the mind and getting them all into the picture is a real accomplishment. When it is sent out to the faithful, the picture of these committed men must rally their compatriots to the cause.

Posted on December 8, 2016

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Revitalizing Women’s Tefillah Groups

Close up of a  jewish papyrus in a museum

As a Modern Orthodox high school student at Ramaz, I find meaning in women’s tefillah (prayer) services. After experiencing them at school, I decided to start a women’s tefillah group at my shul, Congregation Ramath Orah on the Upper West Side. As of now, three monthly meetings (including the Torah service and mussaf) are scheduled. For our first meeting, there was significant interest. More women wanted to leyn (chant Torah) than the available slots. While I am proud of this success, I wish it were more widespread.

Posted on December 1, 2016

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Accepting a Reality We Did Not Anticipate: Lessons from this Week’s Torah Portion

Vintage muddy trace on the forest road in the summer

The word for “comfort” (lenahem) in Hebrew can also mean to “regret.” One of the most difficult parts of gaining comfort after a loss is to stop regretting what was in the past, and to move on to a different reality. In essence, accepting comfort is being able to cope with and adapt to a new and changed reality.

Posted on November 23, 2016

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On Being Stuck in Traffic with a Full Minivan

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In 2013, I gathered together seven friends from my community to attend the JOFA Conference.  We clambered into my Toyota Sienna, early Sunday morning, for the drive into Manhattan and the air was certainly buzzing with anticipation for the learning and discussion that would take place.  But the morning ride paled in comparison with the evening ride home.  

Posted on November 22, 2016

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Meditation and Medication

Girl on the lake in dark autumn day

Judaism is not just a religion based on commandments and laws. Practicing Judaism and knowledge of Jewish Philosophy gives us a guidebook on how to lead healthy lives. Interestingly enough, a 2013 study published by Journal of Affective Disorders states that those who have a moderate to high belief in a higher power do notably better when they are seen short term by a psychiatrist than those who do not. In addition, the study makes note of the fact that patients who are treated for anxiety and/or depression responded better to treatment if they believed in G-d. 

Posted on November 21, 2016

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Spiritual Medicine

Hands of woman reassuring her colleague

My husband Noam and I began our early married life in St. Louis, MO. I took my newly minted law degree to the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, while my husband continued slaving away in his fifth year of neurosurgery residency at St. Louis University Hospital. One evening, after he came home from a three day in-house call, he related this particular story.

Posted on November 17, 2016

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#NotMySon – Raising A Jewish Feminist In An Era Of Blatant Misogyny

Family, children and motherhood concept. Son confronts his middle aged mother. Woman and little boy arm wrestling having fun.

Last night I was still receiving emails congratulating me and JOFA on being chosen as one of the Forward 50 for our work in bettering the status quo. I was lauded for having, “spoken out against rape in the Orthodox community, as well as the need for women to assume leadership roles in American Orthodox Judaism.” I spend my days fighting the good fight for a better tomorrow. I encourage my friends, family, community members, and strangers on the street to see the need for change and to be that change.

Posted on November 16, 2016

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Refuat HaNefesh: Perspectives on Mental Health in the Orthodox Community

Dramatic Clouds from Above at Sunset or Sunrise

Nearly 1 in 5 Americans suffers from a mental illness each year. And no, that’s not just a general statistic; those numbers apply to our communities as well. Mental illness exists in our shuls, in our schools, in our homes. Thankfully, mental health awareness seems to be on the rise in the Orthodox community. More personal articles are being written on the matter, more mental health panels are being organized, more community leaders are promoting mental health awareness, more people are advocating for programs that educate about and provide preventative services. These developments are enlightening, exciting, and empowering.

Posted on November 16, 2016

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