WRJ's Blog

My name is Isak Aasvestad and I grew up in Norway. Currently, I’m a rabbinical student at the Abraham Geiger College in Potsdam, Germany, where I’m pursuing my goal of becoming a rabbi in a Progressive Jewish community in Europe. My studies at the Abraham Geiger College are made possible by a scholarship provided by the YES Fund of the Women of Reform Judaism. For this, I’m immensely grateful!

In addition to my academic studies at the School of Jewish Theology at the University of Potsdam, community internships are an essential part of my rabbinical training.

I have the...

Read More

“On the first day of the second month, in the second year following the exodus from the land of Egypt, Adonai spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the Tent of Meeting, saying, “Take a census of the whole Israelite company [of fighters] by the clans of its ancestral houses, listing the names of every male, head by head.” (Numbers 1:1 – 2) God commanded that Moses count those at least twenty years old and up and who are able to bear arms. Who is not counted? Women, children, the aged, the infirm, and the Levites. As God commanded, Moses did and in our text, the numbers are recorded...

Read More

Just as each of us must work to end gender-based violence in our country and world, we are also responsible for challenging our own community – namely the Reform Jewish community – to address its own issues of sexual assault and harassment. I take inspiration from the brave Jewish women who are taking these problems in the Jewish community into their own hands, translating #MeToo into #GamAni, and bringing needed attention to the experiences of our community's ...

Read More

A pivotal moment in my social justice journey happened last May on my first trip to Israel with the Women of Reform Judaism. Celebrating Rosh Chodesh with Women of the Wall, I experienced first-hand the shocking level of intolerance aimed against Reform Jewish women like me for simply wanting to sing and chant Torah. When I returned to California, I felt compelled to speak out against this injustice as well as other injustices at home.

Fast forward a year. I'm headed to Washington, DC, for my first meeting as a WRJ representative on the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism...

Read More

The combined readings of B’har and B’chukotai mark the end of the Book of Leviticus. They provide the rules for responsibilities and observances in specific time frames with reminders about blessings and curses. B’har talks about the Sabbatical year and the Jubilee year. This Torah portion explains that there are certain laws that regulate use of time. For example, the Torah says that some years are for working or growing in the fields, and some years are for resting. The Jewish people are told that for six years that they are to farm their land but during the seventh year the land should...

Read More