The Vagina Monologues Frummed Out

Among many other exciting offerings at the JOFA conference evening of the arts, we’re excited to host Monologues from the Makom. This event is like The Vagina Monologues but with a Jewish twist – the name is based on the word makom, a common Talmudic euphemism for vagina (though it literally means “place” in Hebrew). Like The Vagina Monologues, Monologues from the Makom will offer a stage for frank discussion of sexuality, but from the unique perspectives of Jewish women. The event will be an all women’s** safe space to share and listen to stories about sexuality, body image, gender, and Jewish identity.

Posted on January 2, 2017

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Sisterhood in the Pursuit of Peace

I belong to a grassroots organization that brings Muslim & Jewish women together in private spaces and allows us to build long-term relationships through dialogue and shared experiences. The Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom is open to any self-identifying Muslim or Jewish woman who wants to engage in ongoing conversation around faith, family, and practical peace. The Sisterhood, which just held its third national conference, has grown exponentially since it was founded in 2010. There are now dozens of chapters across the U.S. Clearly, there is a demand for this kind of engagement.

Posted on December 21, 2016

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Celebrating Our Daughters: From Simchat Bat to Bat Mitzvah

I had been thinking about my eldest daughter’s bat mitzvah for a long time. We belong to a Modern Orthodox shul in Cape Town, South Africa and were one of the first families in Cape Town to have a simchat bat (baby daughter celebration) for our daughter. She was born two days before Rosh Hashanah, and we named her on chol hamoed (the intermediary days of) Sukkot. A good friend of ours came up to our flat to sing her down to shul, and it was really a joyous event. One of the longstanding members of the shul came up to me during the simchat bat with a huge smile on his face, and said “It was like a brit (circumcision ceremony) but without the tears.”

Posted on December 14, 2016

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Do We Really Need the JOFA Conference?

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

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

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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