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Jun 24 2013

How Many Shabbat Candles Does a Divorced Woman Light?

By at 12:04 pm

Mayim Bialik sag awards 2013This post is the last entry in Mayim’s month-long series about the Jewish aspects of divorce.

As a child, I lit two Shabbat candles with my mother every time she lit Shabbat candles. I felt like a little Ima (mother), like they make you pretend in preschool or kindergarten Hebrew school. It’s practice, you know. For when you are a “real” Ima. Imas light two candles.

When I got married, I had not been consistently lighting Shabbat candles for years. After leaving my parents’ home and going to college, I stopped, but I would light them with the other girls at Hillel when I attended services there and looked forward to a day when I would light them as a married woman.  Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 18 2013

Since My Divorce, I’m Missing the Mikveh

By at 1:17 pm

mayim bialik divorce series mikvehThis post is part of Mayim’s month-long series about the Jewish aspects of divorce.

I didn’t grow up knowing anything about the mikveh, the ritual bath religious women enter before their wedding and each month after their menstrual cycle ends. When I learned about it as a teenager, it sounded gross. It sounded like women were treated horribly there, and it sounded like Judaism thought I was dirty and it did not appeal to me at all.

As I increased my Jewish learning at UCLA and specifically through UCLA Hillel, I learned that there were movements of women who were “taking back” mikveh as a transformative and mystical experience. Women who, after divorce or cancer treatment or miscarriage or abortion, were entering the sacred waters to rejuvenate and start again. They were liberating the experience from halachic restrictions and were making a new world of mikveh open to all women. It was beautiful, I thought.   Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 12 2013

The Jewish Divorce: Getting a Get with Mayim Bialik

By at 12:26 pm

mayim bialik writes about jewish divorce ghetThis post is part of Mayim’s month-long series about the Jewish aspects of divorce.

As a woman who is observant-ish and has led an observant lifestyle, divorce presents some very interesting challenges. I don’t know that I am yet ready to present my personal decisions about some of these challenges, but I wanted to share what the challenges are in hopes that other women might find them helpful.

Jewish weddings are held in a religious ceremony that has its own set of laws and rituals. A Jewish wedding is sealed with a ketubah, a marriage contract ensuring protection for the woman in case of mistreatment, neglect, or refusal of rights, such as–not kidding–the right to be sexually satisfied by your husband. Judaism is one of the first religions producing a document (thousands of years ago, mind you) that held the woman’s rights in any esteem, so it’s a very big deal. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 4 2013

Since My Divorce, What Do I Do About Covering My Head?

By at 1:51 pm
mayim bialik crocheted kippah

My crocheted kippah.

This is the first in a month-long series of posts Mayim will be writing about the Jewish aspects of divorce. Up first: head coverings.

I was raised in a traditional Jewish household attending a Reform synagogue. My mother was raised Orthodox but left traditional Judaism pretty much as soon as she could.

When we lit Shabbat candles, my mother covered her head with a doily and I had a matching one so I could be like her.

My mom’s older sister was very religious,  so she and all of her daughters covered their heads all the time in tichels (headscarves), hats, and, for special occasions, fancy wigs. To me, head coverings were for super religious people. I had no problem wearing a small kippah sometimes when making blessings as a child, and one of my cousins in Israel even crocheted me one with my name on it which I treasured and still have and treasure. I saw nothing strange about women wearing kippahs, since in Reform and Conservative circles, it was acceptable. Why not?  Read the rest of this entry →

About Mayim

Mayim Bialik is the grandchild of immigrants from Eastern Europe and the mother of two young boys. She is best known for her lead role in the 1990s NBC sitcom Blossom, as well as her current role as Amy Farrah Fowler on CBS' The Big Bang Theory.

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