Every year on Shavuot, the story of the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai is read in synagogues around the world. It’s a dramatic story, with thunder and lightning and mysterious ram’s horns blasting, and Moses disappearing into a thick cloud. It’s a powerful story. It’s also a problematic story, for me. As a feminist, ascribing divinity to an ancient text with a vision of women/gender that is very far from my own doesn’t work for me. And yet, as a scholar and midrashist who often plays with the words of the biblical text, I do meet God/dess and my ancestors there. I’m moved by the ancient legend that all Jewish souls, of every time and place, were present to receive Torah at Sinai. How to express this layered and complex relationship with Torah?
The Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute has been holding Shabbat prayer online since the pandemic began, and we gathered on Shavuot morning to pray. As a community committed to the liberation of all genders, I felt we couldn’t read the Torah portion the way it was—but I also felt we couldn’t not read it. So I created an aliyah—a Torah reading—composed of fragments of the text. Three of us read it together; I chanted the Hebrew, and Kohenet Ketzirah Lesser and Kohenet Harriette Wimms and I read the English. I picked fragments of the text that spoke to me in some way.Continue reading “Fragments of Sinai by Jill Hammer”