Fragments of Sinai by Jill Hammer

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”

Priestesses at the Parliament by Rae Abileah, Bekah Starr & Chaplain Elizabeth Berger

During the first week of November 2018, 12 graduates and current students of the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute attended the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Toronto, Canada. The Parliament is a conference with a 125-year-old history that has grown to an estimated 10,000 participants representing more than 200 spiritual traditions. To share a Jewish feminist perspective with the Parliament’s attendees, we sought to create moving experiences and  intimate spaces through a variety of invited and informal initiatives.

Priestessing Panels

Many of us were slated to speak at the Parliament, and rather than just show up and give an academic presentation on a panel, we brought the feminist spirit of Kohenet into our sessions, moving rows of chairs to create a circle, guiding participants through embodied practices rather than giving speeches, and crafting ritual. Continue reading “Priestesses at the Parliament by Rae Abileah, Bekah Starr & Chaplain Elizabeth Berger”

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