Opening the Gates of Prayer

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The women wore a variety of costumes, from Disney princesses to Queen Esther herself. Listening to them read the Megillah (the Scroll of Esther) with melodic, skillful voices that Purim holiday in a small shul in Jerusalem’s Talpiyot neighborhood, I felt the distinct sensation of finding something that I’d always been searching for but never thought truly existed. I had been on the rotation of chazaniyot (prayer service leaders) for my Bais Yaakov high school’s prayer services, but my job had been minimal. This was different.

Posted on July 26, 2016

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What Should Be At the Top of Your Pre-Wedding To-Do List?

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There I was. Twenty years old, newly engaged, and feeling like the luckiest girl in the world! I had a whole notebook dedicated to planning the perfect wedding. It had lists of photographers, caterers, and musicians. It also had a list of important people we needed to have at the wedding; family, close friends, and the Rabbi.

Posted on July 12, 2016

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Confronting the Awkwardness of Separating During Niddah

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The most recent episode of “The Joy of Text” podcast featured a discussion on the time period when couples are not supposed to touch. This time period, called niddah, is frequently described as menstrual impurity, family purity (although not unproblematically), or simply left undescribed or untranslated. Thus, the title for this month’s episode is “Navigating Niddah,” in which the co-hosts, Rabbi Dov Linzer and Dr. Bat Sheva Marcus, discuss how people deal with this time period.

Posted on June 24, 2016

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Why I Enrolled in Yeshivat Maharat, the Orthodox Seminary for Women Clergy

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A couple of nights ago, my family and I went to see “Finding Dory.” In this charming sequel to “Finding Nemo,” the character of Dory, a blue tang fish plagued with short term memory issues, begins a quest to find her family. Despite her disability, Dory displays incredible grit. In both films, when Dory is faced with adversity, she repeats the mantra, “just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” I have found myself quietly saying this phrase when dealing with particular challenges. It resonates with my personal philosophy of “just keep doing what you’re doing” — especially when you know that very thing that you are doing, albeit groundbreaking or controversial, is important, valuable and necessary for yourself and the community.

Posted on June 23, 2016

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Partnership Minyans and Women’s Aliyot: A Maturing Conversation

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Proponents and opponents of Partnership Minyans have jointly fostered a single narrative. In that narrative, the only relevant technical halakhic (Jewish legal) question is a pure binary: Can women’s aliyot (being called to the Torah) be justified technically, or can’t they? If the answer is negative, no further conversation is possible; if the answer is positive, the conversation devolves into questions of policy, and no further technical conversation is necessary.

Posted on June 21, 2016

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Ruth… In Other Words

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Last summer, when I joined Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel (ASBI), the local Modern Orthodox synagogue in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, I discovered a multi-denominational congregation that, if not unique, was most certainly remarkable. Indeed, I’ve often wondered why, with equally vibrant Reform and Conservative congregations nearby, someone who’s not strictly Orthodox would choose to join a synagogue that is. But that’s another question for another essay. To my mind, the greatest merit of ASBI, which was thrown into sharp relief this week by the horrific massacre in Orlando, is that ours is a congregation whose membership renders denomination, race, and sexual orientation meaningless – a community in which no one is an outsider.

Posted on June 17, 2016

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