They’re Singing Midrash (But Not For Me)

At least there is the music, I tell myself.  Despite all of Christianity’s distortions and extreme misappropriations of Jewish concepts and traditions of mashiach (“messiah) — and we know with what often murderous consequences for Jews and Judaism, there is still (some of) the music inspired by the midrash. For, yes, Virginia, the ‘Story of the Birth of Jesus’ is a kind of midrash — certainly composed in midrashic style, its narrative components selected from the Torah and Nevi’im.
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Purim Study Guide: 1st in Women, Relationships, Jewish Texts Series

Rabbi Goldie Milgram in Purim Mask— Ann Rose Greenberg

Washington, DC – Jewish Women International (JWI) announces the release of the first in a series of study guides related to Women, Relationships and Jewish Text. Rethinking Purim is designed to spark new conversations about relationships by offering a fresh look at old texts. The guides are a project of JWI’s Clergy Task Force on Domestic Abuse in the Jewish Community, a group of prominent clergy committed to promoting Jewish responses and resources that end violence against women. Three more guides will be released in the coming year, each relating to a Jewish holiday.

More after the jump.
Rethinking Purim takes a thematic approach to the story of Purim, and uses text of the megillah, midrash, and modern commentary to encourage conversations about relationships. Each section of the guide discusses a characteristic of healthy relationships: developing a voice of one’s own; cultivating the conscious use of self; and striving for parity. The guide is designed for use in both formal and informal settings including synagogues, study groups, book clubs, or simply by a group of friends getting together.

Rabbi Richard Hirsh, co‐chair of JWI’s Clergy Task Force said:

This guide combines a respectful reading of classic texts with provocative and perceptive insights, questions and ideas that can help shape healthier relationships. It can help raise awareness of the ways in which issues of gender and power intersect with and can be addressed through such Jewish values as k’vod ha‐briot (respect for the dignity and integrity of each person) and kedusha (sanctification), among others.

According to JWI Executive Director Lori Weinstein:

We know that unhealthy relationships happen in our community, but we so rarely take the time to talk about what makes a relationship healthy. We hope that by sparking these conversations we can help women find their voices and speak out to perpetuate a cycle of safe homes, healthy relationships and strong women.

Rabbi Donna Kirshbaum, lead author of the guide said:

Jewish women today are making a new kind of ‘noise’ on this holiday by using it as a time to speak out against the mistreatment of women and against abusive relationships. We decided to go a step further and see what Purim could teach us about healthy relationships. Although the topic of healthy relationships is a serious one, we hope that — in the spirit of Purim — those using the guide will have a little fun, too.

JWI thanks Rabbi Amy Bolton, Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin, Cantor Katchko‐Gray, and Rabbi Donna Kirshbaum, all members of the members of the Clergy Task Force, for their thoughtful participation in the project.

The guide is available for download, free of charge.

JWI’s Clergy Task Force on Domestic Abuse in the Jewish Community is a multi-denominational group representing all parts of the Jewish community and committed to providing leadership by speaking publicly, developing and disseminating resources and training, and providing guidance to clergy working with families experiencing abuse. As with all of JWI’s task forces working on domestic abuse issues, this one includes survivors of domestic violence.

Jewish Women International is the leading Jewish organization empowering women and girls through economic literacy, community training, healthy relationships education, and the proliferation of women’s leadership. Our innovative programs, advocacy, and philanthropic initiatives protect the fundamental rights of all girls and women to live in safe homes, thrive in healthy relationships, and realize the full potential of their personal strength.