WRJ's Blog

This week’s parashah starts by saying the Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, plus their dependents. Moreover, a mixed multitude went out with them and many livestock, both flocks and herds. It ends with stating that you shall explain to your child on that day, “It is because of what Adonai did for me when I went free from Egypt.”

The text tells us in whose company the journey was made: 600,000 men. How about the women? Their omission from this figure is surprising, but it is in keeping with other aspects in the Torah. Although we...

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The parashah for this week is M’tzora (Leviticus 14:1-15:33). These passages provide instruction for purification rituals for people and homes afflicted with tzaraat (a skin condition, often identified as Leprosy). The parashah also describes male impurities resulting from a penile discharge or seminal emission and female impurities caused by a discharge of blood. Thus, this section describes one type of purification ritual as well as informs us of the ritual impurity (the lost chance to create life) men and women experience due the discharging of bodily fluids.

When there is...

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Several weeks ago, I was asked to speak about sisterhood at a brunch for new and potential members of my congregation. The woman who was the brunch organizer, a well-established member of the congregation, introduced me as the first person that she had met when she came to Friday night services, years ago, to “check out” the congregation. She spoke for a minute or so about how I wouldn’t allow her to sit alone in the back, how I had invited her to sit with us, and how, after the service, I had taken her around and introduced her to several members of the congregation. I had quite forgotten...

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This blog is adapted from a women’s empowerment event focused on the gender wage gap at Temple Rodef Shalom in Vienna, Virginia.

2019 – Next year we will celebrate the centennial of the passage of the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote. Today, women are graduating from college and earning advanced degrees at a higher rate than males. We have women role models in prestigious jobs including a significant increase of women in Congress. And since 2016, women in the military have served in combat. Yet, the Equal Rights Amendment that was introduced by Alice Paul in 1923...

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What does it mean to be holy?

In modern parlance, we “do lunch” with friends, and we “have conversations” about everything from work to children, from sisterhood to cooking. We “meet up” for social activities and for religious events. So, what does it look like to “do holiness,” to “have holiness,” or to “meet up with holiness?”

Sh’mini is the 3rd parshah in the book of Leviticus (Lev. 11:1 – 11:44), and it focuses quite a bit on the idea of holiness, including a number of verses containing detailed descriptions for dietary restrictions followed by a Biblical command that...

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