Dare to Bare Those Ankles

Retro Style Image Of School Girl's Feet In Uniform

I remember where I was sitting. It was a spring day in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I was wearing my white button down uniform shirt and my floor length uniform pleated skirt. It was only after I had enrolled in the Bais Yaakov of the Twin Cities (an Orthodox girls’ school) that a rule was added to the uniform dress code that skirts had to be mid-length and not to the floor (chukat hagoyim 101).  Fortunately I had been grandfathered in and was not forced to tailor my uniform skirts.

Posted on September 22, 2016

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Passing the Torch

IDF_women_officers_1950

My thoughts of late – perhaps provoked rather than inspired – have been about women. Specifically, women in the military. If the original provocation was the escalating war of words, waged in print and across the airwaves, over a scandalous assertion tweeted by the current GOP standard-bearer some three years ago, the leap to the Torah portion, Shoftim, and, from there, to the Book of Judges was short. At least, for me.

Posted on September 13, 2016

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From Rehem to Rahamim

A part of the Hebrew text fomr a portion of a Torah scroll. This scroll is estimated to be 150 years old and is wrinkled and spotted with age. This view has very tight selective focus on just one line on the page with the foreground and background moving quickly to be out of focus.

The surest way to evaluate a society’s achievement at creating a system that is equitable to all is to examine how it is treating its most vulnerable populations. This week’s Torah portion, parashat Shoftim, concerns itself at both its opening and closing with how judges should conduct themselves in the world. The portion opens with an exhortation to the judges to “show no partiality” and “not to take bribes” (Deut 16: 19) and ends with a type of ritual or ceremony to determine some kind of societal responsibility for a corpse whose murderer cannot be ascertained.

Posted on September 9, 2016

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The Halakhic Prenup: Embracing Religious Tension

Bride hand with a pen signing wedding license

I spent the last two years learning in a beit midrash (Jewish hall of study) in Israel. My beit midrash was a microcosm of the sort of Judaism I most respected: inclusive, halakhically (according to Jewish law) honest, sincere, with grit. The fusion of traditional Orthodox values with social consciousness deepened the Torah study and created an environment that welcomed tension. The connections I made there, over Torah, are among my dearest; my learning sparked my love of religious practice and continues to be exhilarating.

Posted on September 1, 2016

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Extremism Works Both Ways

Pamukkale, Turkey - July 20, 2011: Tourists on the travertines

I spend most of my days and nights highlighting problem areas in Orthodox communities as well as viable solutions, with the intention of bringing about much needed changes. Said problem areas include the need to address the treatment and prevention of abuse, the agunah crisis, the erasure of women from publications, the lack of leadership roles for women in Jewish communities, the need to allow for healthy disagreement when we think or interpret law differently, etc.

Posted on August 25, 2016

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