Judaism, Spirituality, and Gender

If Torah, Shabbat, and Shechinah (the Presence of God) are all feminine, and without them there is no Judaism, why does Judaism appear to be a bastion of masculine patriarchal power?You raise two issues with this question: first the role of the feminine in Judaism, and second the lack of female power in Judaism. The answer to the second is easier to answer: Judaism, specifically Rabbinic Judaism which is has dominated Judaism since the fall of the Temple to the Romans in 70 CE, is a product … [Read more...]


Dear Rabbi Rami,I’m a sixty–something Reform Jew whose faith is crumbling. I don’t believe Torah is the word of God, or that mitzvot are divine obligations. The more I delve into this the more disillusioned I become. How do you handle this?******Mazal tov! How wonderful to become dis–illusioned! Illusion is a misreading of reality that happens when a magician (priest, guru, rabbi, pastor, politician, marketer, etc.) distracts you from reality. Seeing through illusion—becoming dis–illu … [Read more...]

Pulling a Palin

As those of you who have been reading this blog from the beginning know, Judaism Next was intended to be a book in progress. Sadly, the progress has stopped. So has my enthusiasm. While I still intend to write a book setting forth my ideas on God, Torah, and Israel, the standard book format speaks to me less and less. I want to create a new way of communicating these ideas, and I have yet to invent one. So, this blog will undergo yet another transformation. Yes, I am pulling a Palin and, like … [Read more...]

3 If We are to have a Future

It is almost cliché to say Judaism is dying. Judaism has been around for over 3000 years, and concern over its dying goes back almost as far. Chances are it will survive a bit longer. But that doesn’t mean that those of us who love Judaism, and take great pride and find deep meaning in being Jews shouldn’t concern ourselves with her future.For me the future of Judaism rests in the capacity of Jews to Turn Torah: to tell and retell our story. I am what one might call a midrashic rather than a … [Read more...]

1. Turning Torah

Embracing our story means taking it seriously, though not necessarily literally. To quote the third century Rabbi Ben Bag Bag (seriously that was name; middle school must have been hell), "Turn her and turn her for everything is in her," (Pirke Avot 5:26). By "her" he means Torah (Torah is a feminine noun in Hebrew). Turning Torah is the central spiritual practice of our tribe, and refers to the art of creatively misreading Torah in ways that yield new meanings generation to generation.We … [Read more...]