Reaping the Omer (Beyond 46)

In her book, The Other Talmud, Rabbi Judith Abrams notes that “Nowadays, we count the days of the Omer, but in the days of the Temple, they reaped the omer.” Let’s give Shavuot the makeover it deserves…. We can transform the Omer counting from the dolorous business it’s become to what it probably was before: […]

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Malcolm X and the Power of Small Things (Beyond 45)

“The fame we get from fighting for the freedom of others creates a prison for us,” Malcolm X wrote in 1964 to Azizah al-Hibri, then a college student at the American University in Beirut. Their brief in-person connection and subsequent correspondence are still treasured by Dr. al-Hibri, now retired as chair of KARAMAH: Muslim Women […]

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Range of Possibilities (Beyond 44)

“The media we consume has a profound impact on the range of possibilities we can imagine. Therefore, centering Black female narratives in our reading habits should be a central practice for anyone trying to envision a world in which Black Women are respected, honored, supported and loved.” — So writes Aaron Goggans in his post, […]

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Pretension to Lucidity (Beyond 17)

As the “Tifereth” [“beauty”] week of this journey away from oppression continues, I return again to the biblical concept that all humans (other than Moses) see only a part of any picture: …The problem arises when one is not aware of one’s own deflections of vision. Imagining oneself clear-eyed, one may become the greatest fantasist […]

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(Beyond 15)

Yesterday’s post included a note from Bewilderments, Avivah Zornberg’s study of the wilderness travels in the Book of Numbers. …Moses alone of human beings ‘saw b’aspaklariah meirah— through a clear lens.” All others, including prophets and seers, saw through an unclear glass, a distorted lens of subjectivity (Babylonia Talmud: Yevamot 49b, Rashi to Numbers 12:6). […]

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Balancing Kindness and Strength (Beyond 14)

With the new week, we begin a third leg in our journey away from oppression, and so shift focus to a new aspect of divinity. The first week focused on Chesed [“loving-kindness”]. The second, on Gevurah [“strength” or “boundaries,” sometimes “judgement”]. The third, “Tiferet” [“beauty”], is said to combine the first two. On its own […]

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More Race and Gender and Strength and Boundaries (Beyond 13)

Shabbat approaches, and this week’s Torah portion is Shemini (“Eighth [day],” Lev: 9:1 – 11:47; see also “In Praise of Silence” ). It’s one in which women are simply not present — not even, as in the next double portion of Tazria and Metzora, as a source of potential impurity — unless by extrapolation: The […]

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Race and Gender and Strength and Boundaries (Beyond 12)

As we come to the close of the omer journey week focusing on strength and boundaries, we should at least begin our reflections on the complex intersection of race and gender. My own time at the computer does not permit a long note today (a blessing, perhaps?), so I offer just a few suggestions: One […]

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Exploring Divine Fluidity: Yentl, Gender, and Time

Murkiness does not persist for long in biblical narrative. For only one verse, “the earth was unformed and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters.” After that, God begins a program of dividing [“va-yavdil” וַיַּבְדֵּל]: light from darkness, waters above […]

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Yentl at Theater J, Post-Show Panel on Women and Religious Tradition

UPDATE: Change of panelists for September 14 Theater J’s new production of Yentl, based on Isaac Bashevis Singer’s short story, explores issues of gender and religious tradition. Panel discussions following Sunday matinees extend the conversation. Virginia Spatz, co-organizer of Washington Friends of Women of the Wall, is joining a post-show panel on Sept. 14, so […]

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