Pursuing Justice: Notes from an Agunah Activist

JOFA Journal

Shenhav discusses her experiences as a lawyer advocating on behalf of agunot in Jerusalem since 1979. Shenhav reports about the powerful role she has as the only woman on a ten person Commission to appoint dayanim, as she is in a position to voice her views as well as the opinions of many leading rabbis who agree with her criticisms of the batei din, yet feel constrained by the complicated religious politics surrounding the plight of agunot.

Women Completing the Talmud along with Men

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 4:05pm -- rootuser

by JOFA Staff

If anyone is looking for proof that women’s advanced Talmud learning has come of age, the August 6 Modern Orthodox Siyum Hashas was it.  The packed crowd at Congregation Shearith Israel (The Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue) in Manhattan was full of women and men from different backgrounds learning together in a colorful array of classes and sessions taught by both women and men. The celebration, which was coordinated by Rabbi Dov Linzer and proudly co-sponsored by JOFA along with many modern Orthodox institutions, marked the completion of the twelfth cycle of daf yomi, and arguably the first time that women were included as full and equal partners in the process. Daf yomi is the practice of learning a folio of Talmud each day so as to complete the entire Talmud in 7.5 years.

White lies and family manipulation in the Talmud

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 4:05pm -- rootuser

by Mona Berdugo   

One of the things I really enjoy about doing the daf is getting a glimpse into the everyday lives of the rabbis living at the time. They had real lives and real families with real problems etc. In the past few weeks we read two short stories about the family lives of the amoraim that I found fascinating. For anyone who ever felt that no one ever listens to them, you are in good company.

The price of a ski vacation

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 4:05pm -- rootuser

By Mona Berdugo

This time of year – just before Pesach – is always a bit crazy in just about every Jewish household. There's the cleaning, feeling guilty for not cleaning enough, menu planning, trying to come up with interesting things to do or say at the seder that can keep everyone interested etc. This year, in addition to all the usual pre-Pesach things to contend with, I also had a family ski trip, a daughter starting her army service (which apparently requires way more shopping than I ever imagined,) and a party celebrating my father-in-law's 80th birthday. Not that I am complaining – these are all wonderful excuses to procrastinate, for which I am truly grateful – but according to the daf yomi schedule I had to finish Masechet Shabbat somewhere in there too, so this was not a good time for me to fall behind.
My family is certainly not one of those that goes on European vacations every year, but I love skiing and there's not much of it in Israel. My kids really wanted to go so we'd been dreaming about a family ski trip for a few years. Now that my oldest was about to begin her army service I figured if we don't do it now we probably won't get another chance for a long time so off we went.

Learning Daf Yomi

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 4:05pm -- rootuser

By Mona Berdugo

After almost half a year of learning the daf yomi I finally posted something about it on my Facebook status. Lately, Facebook has been extremely interested in knowing what's on my mind – so I told it that the discussion about Hebrew letters on that day's daf (Shabbat 104) reminded me of a children's song and now I can't get that song out of my head. The next thing I know, my good friend (in real life and on Facebook) Elana Sztokman, aka Executive Director of JOFA is asking me if I want to write a blog about my daf yomi experience! Wow. I haven't been hiding the fact that I'm doing thedaf from anyone, but I haven't exactly been advertising it either. It took me six months to even mention it on Facebook. A blog seems so public, and I'm not really much of a writer - more of a math/science person. On the other hand, there are often a whole bunch of thoughts that pop into my head while learning and I have no one to share them with since I learn by myself as opposed to going to a proper shiur with other people I can discuss things with.

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