WRJ's Blog

In my world, I cannot walk around at night without an escort. In my world, one in five American women and one in 71 men will be raped. One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18; one in five women and one in 16 men will be sexually assaulted on their college campus.

These are not statistics. These are real people -- myself included.

I’m 16 years old. I am already a strong advocate of racial justice, LGBTQ+ rights, women’s equality, and so much more. This is largely due to meeting, talking to, and learning...

Read More

As we consider the Jewish calendar, observance of Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh, and the festivals, laws governing roles and obligations have value and offer guidance. In Parashat Emor the specifics are defined regarding bread, how it is made and by whom, the sacred oil, treatment of sacrificial animals and animal young, prohibitions against blasphemy, the barriers that separate priests from daily life, and the management of death and burial, particularly by priests.  Situations that affect or involve women seem to protect yet limit their participation.

We can learn from this parashah that...

Read More

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a time for us to reflect and re-educate ourselves on the unyielding problem of sexual assault. In the last few months, the #MeToo movement has shifted the national conversation towards the issue of workplace sexual harassment. While related, it is important to continue the discussion around sexual assault as its own issue, building on the awareness that has grown in the last few years. Campus sexual assault remains a pervasive problem and focus on it has reignited in response to troubling moves by Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. In...

Read More

This week we read from the double portion Acharei Mot/K’doshim.

I chose to write about this portion because Acharei Mot was the portion of the week of my adult Bat Mitzvah in 1995. Acharei Mot (Leviticus 16:1-18:30) continues to focus in detail on laws and ritual and especially the practices for the Day of Atonement. As summarized in The Torah: A Women’s Commentary, (p. 680), it begins with a discussion of expiation of sins and purification of the Shrine. It continues in discussing laws about eating meat and finishes with laws about sexual limits.

The next portion for this...

Read More

This week’s Parshah, Tazria-Metzora, deals with all kinds of ritual impurity, including the skin disease, tzara’at, usually translated as leprosy. An afflicted individual is to be placed outside the Israelites’ camp until the disease is gone. This disease is almost certainly not the disease that is properly known as Hansen’s disease (leprosy). Hansen’s disease is a bacterial infection for which, prior to the discovery of antibiotics, there was no cure. A leper could not have been healed. Whether the disease described here is leprosy or not, based on this text, those suffering from Hansen’s...

Read More