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September 2015

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by Teresa Quiroz

On my first visit to the Holy Land I wanted it to complete a dream that I had for a long time. Since my sisterhood joined the Women of the Wall (WoW) movement I was impressed by the courage and valor of the founders of the WoW group. I heard that Anat Hoffman had started the group at least 25 years ago. My husband found a newspaper clipping from 1980 when it was international news that WoW was asserting their right to celebrate Rosh Chodesh at the Kotel as a collective Jewry. It was unheard of that women not only wanted to celebrate Rosh Chodesh but wanted to chant from the Torah at the Kotel wearing kippot, tallitot, and t'fillin! Why not; after all Rosh Chodesh has been a holiday reserved for women. Why not? Since when has chanting from the Torah scroll been for men only.

I went to Jerusalem to celebrate and join in with WoW. I wanted to show my support. I was assigned an aliyah and I prepared for the chanting with the help of Rachel Cohen Yeshurun, a WoW Board member. I met Rachel for the first time at the Reform synagogue Kol Ha Neshama. She was “borrowing” the Torah scroll for the Rosh Chodesh service. I learned then that in Israel it is illegal to bring a Torah scroll into the women’s section at the Kotel. I was well aware of the sometimes violent situations the group had endured throughout their relentless fight to be allowed to chant Torah from the scroll but I was not prepared for what ensued the following day.

As Jews all over the world observed the atonement rituals of Yom Kippur this week, I decided to dedicate my fast to the

Rabbi Marla J. Feldman and teen at Climate Mobilization

Yesterday I stood with other members of the Reform Jewish Movement outside the United Nations in New York City, in unity with people of many different faiths in the fight against climate change.

Rachel Landman

Did you know that glossophobia is the fear of public speaking? According to a recent study by the National Institute of Mental Health, about 74% of people have this fear, ranking it as the most common fear in the world. Does your heart start racing when it’s time to present a speech? Do your legs and hands begin trembling prior to approaching a podium? If so, you are not alone in the modern day world, nor in the biblical world.

We all remember when God appears to Moses at the burning bush. There Moses was instructed to lead the Jewish people out of slavery and into the land of freedom. However, Moses persistently responds with, "Please, O my Lord, I have never been a man of words (Lo ish d'varim anochi), either in times past or now that You have spoken to Your servant: I am slow of speech (k'vad peh), and slow of tongue (u'ch'vad lashon)" (Exodus 4:10). Here we have one of our greatest Jewish heroes humbly protesting and replying to God, no, I am sorry, I can not assist you, I am not a good orator, therefore I can not redeem the Jewish people. This is one great example of how strong the fear of public speaking can be for anyone.

Pink sign saying "Don't take away my breast cancer screenings" at rally

Over the past few weeks, there has been a big spotlight on women’s health and reproductive rights in Congress.

Tracy Wolf
people marching in an anti-poverty rally with a banner

 

Rabbi Tarfon teaches, “You are not expected to complete the task, but neither are you free to avoid it.” (Pirkei Avot 2:21).

 

Tyler Dratch
children eating lunch in school cafeteria

For many Jews, the Yom Kippur fast is one of the hardest and most meaningful Jewish acts they will perform during the year.

Tyler Dratch
Middle Passage waving American flag in front of the Virginia war memorial

Moses is perhaps the only person who knew the date of his death.

Rabbi Erica Asch
John Kerry and Mohammad Javad Zarif conduct a bilateral meeting in Vienna, Austria, 14 July 2014

Now that the September 17 deadline for congressional action on the Iran Nuclear Deal has passed,