This week we begin the reading of the book of Exodus with the opening parashah Sh’mot (Names). The Torah: A Women’s Commentary titles this section: “The Birth of a Nation.” Jacob has died and his family has settled in Egypt under Joseph’s watchful eyes. Now almost 400 years later the Israelite settlement has become so large it threatens Pharaoh who tries to limit its growth without success. The story of Moses intercedes at this point in the text. We soon learn that God has called on Moses to lead the suffering Israelites out of Egypt to the land of Canaan. The section ends with Moses’...Read More
Often, we are torn between our sisterhood leaders and programs of the past and what we believe is the future of WRJ. As is our practice, we revisit the lessons of Va-y’chi and are struck by the constant tension between the past and the hope for the future.
Va-y’chi, “he lives” concludes the book of Genesis. We are set up from the beginning of this Torah portion, with the dichotomy of the past and the hope and promise of the future. Jacob is preparing for his death and calls upon his son, Joseph to carry out his last wishes. Jacob, also known as Israel, tells Joseph of the burial...Read More
Growing up in Texas, the summer of 2013 was a monumental time to be inspired by the power of women’s voices. A high school student at the time, I remember eagerly following along that June as State Senator Wendy Davis stood firm in her iconic pink running shoes as she filibustered a highly-restrictive abortion bill for 11 hours straight. The bill sought to impose some of the harshest targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) laws in the...Read More
Eight years ago our child was called to the Torah as a Bat Mitzvah in Israel. As would become our practice with B’nai Mitzvah services, our child chose a spot a little off the beaten track and was called to the Torah first with the Women of the Wall in Jerusalem on Rosh Chodesh, and then, later that week, led the full service for family and friends at the Byzantine synagogue near Ein Gedi. As a congregation of family and friends, we prayed together, we hiked together, and we heard the reading of Vayigash, this week’s parsha. It was a beautiful day, what we thought was the culmination of a...Read More
In this week’s Torah portion, Joseph moves from prisoner to second in command in Egypt. Joseph was falsely imprisoned for claims by his master Potiphar’s wife that he raped her. While in prison, he continued to use his God-given ability to interpret dreams. Pharaoh has dreamt of seven fat cows being devoured by seven emaciated cows followed by a second dream in which seven healthy ears of corn were swallowed up by seven dried up ears of corn. When Pharaoh’s wise men were unable to explain the dreams, the cupbearer, Pharaoh’s servant, remembered that while he was in prison, Joseph was able...Read More