This collection contains excerpts from the writings of the fourteen women in the Jewish Women Scholars' Writing Fellowship, 2021, a joint project of Maharat and Sefaria. These incredible fellows have been busy writing on a vast array of topics, and these pieces represent just the beginnings of their transformational Torah.
Nomi Schneck is working on her book about Genesis, both the book of Torah and the process of creation. She asks “how does the process of artistic creativity provide a framework for understanding God and humanity’s role in a divinely orchestrated world?”
In this essay, Rabbi Sari Laufer writes about “Saying a Sacred No”, where she explores texts that address the question of how we maintain healthy boundaries and how to step back when necessary. Rather than focusing on the importance of “presence”, Rabbi Laufer instead looks at intentional absence and where we can see the power of no in our texts and our theology.
In “A Sign Upon Your Arm: How Vaccination Embodies Jewish Ethics and Obligation,” Ranana Dine takes on the question of vaccination not merely through a Jewish lens, but in deep conversation with Jewish questions of obligation towards others as well as questions of how ethics are made manifest in the body.
Rabbanit Sarna is creating a halachic guidebook for new parents. She intends to cover all the halachic questions that come up during those exhausting first three months of life, especially those that relate to the laws of Shabbat and the law of the infant.
Rabbi Avi Strausberg’s two essays, one published in the Lehrhaus (1st week of May) and the other in forthcoming in the Hadar High Holidays companion, address questions of catastrophe and resilience. She explores Talmudic texts that offer a way out of helplessness during the pandemic in the first and an exploration of the power of rebuilding from ruins in the second.
Maxine Berman approaches the ninth chapter of tractate Niddah, which deals with personal and communal mourning, as a model for how we might approach the individual and collective mourning that is happening and must happen around the pandemic.
Rabbi Atara Cohen asks the question “What type of benefit, if any, do my good actions do to the world?” She uses the idea of the Messiah, as found in the eleventh chapter of tractate Sanhedrin, perek Helek, as a way into this question and uses the text of the Talmud alongside modern examples to offer multiple lenses through which to view what it is we do when we do good.
Rabbi Margo Hughes-Robinson has written a translation for and commentary on the 3rd chapter of Tosefta Sotah. Part of a larger book which she envisions writing on the entire text, Margo offers a side-by-side translation of the text itself along with a reading of the themes of rebellion and a feminist analysis of the text.