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Remembering Gerda Lerner: The “Mother” of Women’s History

Gerda Lerner, pioneer in women’s history, remarkable public intellectual, and life-long activist, died this week in Wisconsin at the age of 92. A member of JWA’s Academic Advisory Council, she was enthusiastic about our mission of chronicling and transmitting the history of Jewish women. No historian was more identified with the field of women’s history. […]

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I Heard You Found Kosher Cheese At…

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw large bags of kosher and cholov yisroel cheese at Smart and Final last week, I myself am not a fan of shredded mozzarella or cheddar, but I knew plenty of people who would be happy to know there was another place to find kosher cheese in the […]

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What am I Doing Here?

Hazel Karr first contacted JWA because she wanted to add some biographical details to the article in the online Encyclopedia about her grandmother, Esther Kreitman. We struck up a correspondence with her and suggested she write a blog post about the differences between between her mother’s artwork and her own. Hazel Karr comes from a […]

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Maybe I’m Just a Self Embarrassed Jew!

I’m not sure why, but whenever I’m in New York or another large orthodox community I suddenly like to hide my Jewishness. Normally, I wear my yarmulke and tzitzis everywhere, but the second you put me in a place where Jews are everywhere I want nothing to do with them.  think it has something to […]

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Gender Bending

I, like everyone else, pretended to be shocked when the halachic ruling was released today allowing select couples to choose the gender of their burgeoning babies with the help of a rav, of cour$e. Naturally, all the reasons cited had to do with folks choosing to have boys, not one example being given for girls. […]

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Bad News for Ezra Merkin and his Investors

According to a report from Bloomberg News a federal court will decide some aspects of the Madoff-Merkin settlements. Although legal matters like this one are hard to sort out, this development is potentially bad news for Merkin’s victims, and good news for Madoff’s victims, as the story explains: …Last week’s ruling doesn’t answer the ultimate […]

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Is Gambling Assur?

Is Gambling Assur?

I’ve been told that there are quite a few ins and outs regarding the halachos of gambling. Most of them, though, deal with dice games. In Tractate Sanhedrin, dice gamers are called kubiustos and it is said that they are afraid of daylight. I always feel like shit after a night of gambling and don’t […]

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Is Menstruation Kosher?

Well that silly question got your attention… Kosher means fit or proper. Yes, you will know that menstruation is kosher, if you are an educated person. There is nothing unfit about it. It is a normal part of human health and life. But according to an op-ed report in the Times, “The Taboo of Menstruation,” […]

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Talmud for Christmas: Tractate Chopsticks

A lost Talmudic tractate has been discovered that answers age-old rabbinic questions about the appropriate way for Jews to fully accomplish the obligations associated with eating Chinese food on December 24th/25th. By Rabbi Rick Brody & Rabbi Rachel Kobrin with inspiration from: Rabbi Jeremy Winaker, Rob Kutner, Carolyn Austin, Bill Seligman, Sam Rosenstein, and Rabbi […]

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The Times v. the Orthodox Male Control Over the Non-Sacred Space at the Western Wall

The Times is helping to stir up anti-Orthodox political sentiment in Israel by focusing in a report on the denial of rights to women at the Western Wall. Talmudic Analysis In fact the area of prayer at the Wall is not a holy site in formal Judaism. It is outside the location of the ancient […]

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Dvar Torah Vayechi: The Reverse

Jacob gives some blessing to Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Menashe, and crosses his arms so as to effect a modification of the precedence of the firstborn (Genesis 48:13-19) — not altogether surprising, since anyone paying attention for the last few months can plainly see that the firstborn status among the children of Abraham has […]

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A Few More Stories for the Road

As I prepare to leave my position as JWA’s Director of Public History after more than 12 years here, my mind keeps returning me back to the summer day in 2000 when I first stepped into the offices of the Jewish Women’s Archive. At the time, I was a disgruntled graduate student, disillusioned with life […]

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Braving a Botoxed World: A Mother’s Tale

In the recent Disney/Pixar film, Brave, a young princess defies an age-old custom and fights to make her mother understand that she is not ready for marriage. I know you’d rather not think of the Disney princesses at all, but we live and breathe, and shop at Target, so I contend—if forced to choose among that […]

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Is New Year’s Eve Jewish?

Is the celebration of New Year’s Eve allowed in accord with the Jewish religion? No, not in Haifa, Israel, according to the rabbinate there. They say that a New Year’s Eve party is an act of “Idol worship,” as JTA reports: Haifa rabbinate forbids New Year’s Eve parties JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Haifa rabbinate has […]

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Dear Heshy: I Saw a Frum Woman Wearing a Bikini and Covering Her Hair!

Greetings, thought would like this…my family and I are hanging by the pool…and there is this obvious young Lubavitcher long beard, baseball cap and his wife with a perfect Israeli Style Tichel/kerchief not one hair showing ….yet in a tiny bikini!!! What’s with that?? Bikini is ok? but she cannot show her hair??? I get […]

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A Very Jewish Christmas

There are many things I don’t love about Christmas. First off, those ridiculous fake antlers that people put on their cars. And that infernal Salvation Army bell ringing – whywhywhy do they keep ringing at you no matter how much money you put in there? I swear I’d drop a fifty just to be able […]

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Honoring Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

Today is the secular anniversary of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, the preeminent theologian of the 20th century (his yahrzeit on the 18th of Tevet is next week). Many of my teachers at The Jewish Theological Seminary were students of Heschel’s and were highly influenced by his thinking and writing. In Heschel’s memory I share my favorite […]

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Sharing Stories, Inspiring Change

Last week, Rabbi Scott Perlo wrote a provocative article in the Washington Post in which he addressed the continuing discomfort that many Jews—even liberal, gender-equity-supporting ones—feel about female rabbis. He suggests that this puzzling phenomenon may be due to the central place nostalgia holds in many people’s feelings about Judaism. It comes as no surprise […]

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May Their Memory Be for a Blessing

On the front page of this morning’s Denver Post a picture of Veronique Pozner, mother of Sandy Hook Elementary School victim Noah Pozner, at Noah’s gravesite at B’nai Israel Cemetery in Monroe, Connecticut, assaults me as I sit down to drink my morning coffee. Veronique stands next to her rabbi, and my eyes are drawn to […]

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Reflections in the Shadows

It’s over, another Chanukah down, nothing but memories to cherish and candle wax to pick off the shelf in front of the window. It was a truly lovely eight nights. I know many families who weren’t able to light the candles every evening due to school obligations and the dizzying December schedule that only slows […]

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Enough Senseless Tragedies Like Sandy Hook

A movie theater. A Sikh house of worship. An elementary school. How long until we say enough gun violence in our nation? These tragic events get the media coverage because they are the result of gun violence on a large scale, but there are horrific murders and suicides in our nation all the time which […]

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Wage and Worth

Equal pay for equal work—an all-too familiar demand. Last week the Forward published its annual survey of salaries in Jewish organizations, and yesterday the New York Times published a piece by Jessica Bennett calling on women to ramp up their negotiating skills. Bennett remembers asking for a raise when she worked at Newsweek: “When I […]

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Was Sherlock Holmes Jewish?

No, Sherlock Holmes was not a Jew. He was and is a fictional character created by Conan-Doyle and hence has no actual religion. And that character is not depicted in the fiction as anything near a Jew. And on a related matter… MARIA KONNIKOVA author of “Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes” and a […]

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Scammers Add to the Tragedy of Noah Pozner

When the names of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut were announced, Jewish media outlets immediately published articles about the youngest victim Noah Pozner, the Jewish 6-year-old who was laid to rest earlier this week in a traditional Jewish funeral officiated by the family’s rabbi, Shaul Praver of Congregation […]

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Update on the Insults: A Battle Over a Book: Haym Soloveitchik v. Talya Fishman

Our once-upon-a-time teacher at Yeshiva University has panned a new book about rabbinic cultural development. It’s a veritable battle over a book, Haym Soloveitchik v. Talya Fishman. The book is Becoming the People of the Talmud: Oral Torah as Written Tradition in Medieval Jewish Cultures (Jewish Culture and Contexts). The review by Haym is locked […]

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Rebbetzin Heller, What is my Mission? Why am I Here?

Question: I am childless, happily married, about to turn 50, and quite honestly, am feeling very ‘lost’ since I got laid off from my job almost a year ago. I can see the story of Lech Lecha and feel Hashem has said to me, pick up and go… But where?  What is my mission? Why am […]

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Social Media Sites Get Political About Israel

Spending a week in Israel earlier this month I kept my eyes open to the way Israelis use technology. Even on my first time in Israel over 18 years ago I noticed that Israelis thirsted for the latest tech gadgets. Being a country that struggled with telecommunications early on in its existence primed Israel for […]

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A Battle Over a Book: Haym Soloveitchik v. Talya Fishman

Our once-upon-a-time teacher at Yeshiva University has panned a new book about rabbinic cultural development. It’s a veritable battle over a book, Haym Soloveitchik v. Talya Fishman. The book is Becoming the People of the Talmud: Oral Torah as Written Tradition in Medieval Jewish Cultures (Jewish Culture and Contexts). The review by Haym is locked […]

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Compassion: From the Bible’s Joseph to Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen’s most recent hit single, “We Take Care of Our Own” has been played non-stop throughout this year, especially during President Obama’s re-election campaign, the democratic national convention and at his victory party in Chicago. When my father in law introduced me to the song a number of months ago, I felt conflicted by […]

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Non-Jews Doing Hanukkah

A couple years ago I wrote about non-Jews observing certain Jewish customs. I looked at such examples as Justin Bieber reciting the Shema in Hebrew before each concert as well as non-Jews maintaining kosher diets, hanging mezuzahs on their front doors, dancing the Hora at weddings and erecting sukkahs. The new trend seems to be […]

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