Be’er Miriam aims to inspire young people and create new leadership models by introducing them to outstanding women who are both leaders and Torah scholars. Workshops take place over one week in the lead-up to International Women’s Day and are open to Jewish schools, JSocs and youth groups.
This year’s programme runs from 27 February to 5 March. Register your interest.
Shira Eliassan, Be’er Miriam Scholar 2018
Shira Eliassian intends to fashion a career that allows her to fully live out her Jewish, academic, and feminist ambitions. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa at Barnard College, NY with a BA in English Literature in 2016. She has created programming and online education for JOFA in New York, including managing the production of The Joy of Text, a podcast on Judaism and sexuality, and is the editor of The JOFA Blog.
Shira is currently pursuing a Masters in Religion at the University of Chicago. Her studies focus on how religion is expressed through literature and visual culture. She combines her traditional Jewish education with critical theory from academic settings in order to reconsider what it means to be a person of faith today.
The Art of Crafting Ritual
What is an “authentic religious experience”?
How can we create new rituals that balance feminist sensibilities with tradition?
In reimaging an Orthodox community that offers equal opportunities to men and women, Jewish feminists have needed to design rituals that are inclusive towards women.
In this session will outline the basic features of ritual, in order to understand what components are necessary in the shaping of new rituals, and consider the challenges and opportunities they present today.
Nechama Juni, Be’er Miriam Scholar 2017
JOFA UK marked International Women’s Day 2017 with a series of discussions for Millennials featuring Nechama Juni.
Nechama Juni spent much of her childhood moving around Canada and the East Coast of the United States, and currently lives in Providence, RI with her husband, Mayer. She received her BA from Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women and her MA in Jewish philosophy from the YU’s Graduate School of Jewish Studies, both in New York City. She has studied Torah at YU’s Graduate Program for Advanced Talmudic Studies, The Drisha Institute (NYC), and the Center for Modern Torah Leadership (Sharon, Massachusetts). She is currently studying for her PhD in philosophy of religion at Brown University. An aspiring professor, Nechama plans on spending as much of her life as she can studying and teaching Torah and philosophy. Her hobbies include cooking, traveling, and reading fantasy books.
“Holiness for Millennials: How Do We Find Meaning in Judaism?”
We often think of Judaism as a collection of do’s and don’t’s. Can it be more than that? A look at the Torah’s view of holiness will show us that while our tradition tells us what to do and how to act, it invites us to participate in the process of finding and constructing the meaning of these practices.
“Questioning God: The Book of Job and the Uses of Philosophy”
What happens when God unjustly decides to inflict suffering on a good person? And how far can one go in questioning God? A look at the daring Book of Job will raise these questions and more. And while we may never know the answer to the problem of evil, Job helps us think through what asking questions can do for us, what we should do when confronted with unsatisfying answers, and how philosophy can help us lead richer Jewish lives.
Leah Sarna, Be’er Miriam Scholar 2016
JOFA UK marked International Women’s Day 2016 with a series of discussions on women’s participation and leadership in Orthodox Judaism. The programme featured scholar Leah Sarna, who delivered ten sessions in high schools and campus JSocs including Oxford, Cambridge and UCL, reaching close to 500 students.
Leah Sarna is a Wexner Graduate Fellow studying for Orthodox rabbinic ordination at Yeshivat Maharat in New York. She is a graduate of the Maimonides School in Boston and spent a year immersed in Torah study in Israel at Migdal Oz before undertaking a BA in Philosophy & Psychology at Yale University, graduating in 2014. Leah has continued her Jewish education at the Drisha Institute in New York and at the Center for Modern Torah Leadership in Massachusetts. She teaches and lectures in synagogues and communities across the United States. Recent engagements have included addressing an audience of close to 1,000 at the JOFA 2013 Conference plenary in New York and teaching at Drisha’s Dr. Beth Samuels High School Program. Leah is currently serving as clergy intern at Harvard Hillel and at Ohev Sholom, The National Synagogue in Washington, DC.
Confronting the Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations
Where overt bigotry and sexism are still a problem, they can at least be confronted head on. Far more challenging is the “soft” bigotry that simply expects less from women and girls. This is particularly marked in terms of our standards for women in Jewish study, ritual and leadership. What is the loss to our community and what can we do to rectify this? Click here to listen to a recording of the talk, delivered at the launch of JOFA LIVE, a discussion forum for students and young professionals. Click here to view the source-sheet.
Meytal Blumenthal, Be’er Miriam Scholar 2015
In the lead-up to Pesach, JOFA UK offered school groups a special workshop led by Israeli educator Meytal Blumenthal. Designed to explore leadership through text and discussion about Miriam the Prophetess, it concluded by inviting students to compose their own ‘Song of Freedom’.
“My name is Miriam and I always wondered why my parents chose what I thought was such an odd name. Now I am really proud of it!” said a year 8 participant.
Over 200 students from various Jewish schools took part in the workshop.
Meytal Blumenthal: I was born and raised in Jerusalem. After high school I chose to spend a year studying at Midreshet Lindenbaum, and then I served in the army for two years in an elite intelligence unit. Throughout my service I volunteered to organize cultural Jewish activities promoting the Jewish atmosphere and the feeling of connection to our tradition and nation among the soldiers on my base. After the army I studied for a year in Drisha’s Scholar Circle program in New York, and was a counsellor at the Drisha High School Programs. Inspired by my experience in the army I chose to enrol in Revivim, a unique honours program at the Hebrew University that combines a BA and MA in Judaic studies with a teacher’s certificate, so that I can continue this work throughout my life. I am a teacher of Bible and Jewish thought in Israeli public schools. In addition I tutor students in preparation for their Bar and Bat Mitzvah and teach them the Torah trope.