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Showing posts from May, 2014

The Story of Jerusalem (Yom Yerushalaim)

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Jerusalem – An Eternal Story (talk given at the Leeds Yom Yerushalaim celebration) Rabbi Esther Hugenholtz 
For a Jerusalem summer it was unseasonably hot, the mercury of the thermometer pushing past 45 degrees and it was the thick of Ramadan. I wove my way through the Arab sector of the Old City after having visited the Kotel with a friend of mine where we had offered Mincha prayers. Out of respect for the fasting – and probably very thirsty - Muslim population, I discreetly hid my water bottle. We walked past an entrepreneurial Muslim vendor who was selling limonana – the refreshing mint lemonade – to eager tourists, despite the fast. My friend decided to buy some and after friendly ‘salaams’, the vendor offered me a plastic cup for free. 
It was a simple and friendly in a city where despite her sweeping and at times difficult history, hospitality remains a core value. Despite the force of history, a Jew and a Muslim met over a cup of limonana, reminiscent of Abraham welcoming his gu…

'Equal Citizens of the Halakhic Nation' - Leeds Limmud 2014

Limmud Leeds May 18th 2014
Rabbi Esther Hugenholtz
‘Equal Citizens of the Halakhic Nation – women, men, rights and obligations’
This session will look at the tension between being a religious Jew and a Feminist. What do our ancient rabbinic texts say about the roles of women in prayer and leadership through the timebound commandments (ie tallit)? Is egalitarianism contradictory to Judaism or perhaps quite the opposite: a vision of being created in the Divine Image? By studying and discussing both rabbinic texts and contemporary experiences, we will make these important questions come alive in our own lives and communities and look at creating a more equal and inclusive Judaism.
Issues to consider: -       Why are women exempted from timebound commandments? -       Does this exemption make sense within the halakhic system? -       Are tallit/tefillin ‘male’ garments? -       What is the reward for doing ‘extra’ mitzvot? Is it virtuous or arrogant to do so? -       What is the influence of modern…