Sarah Rudolph lives in Cleveland with her family. She has been teaching Jewish text studies for over ten years, to students ranging from elementary school to retirement age. More recently, she has begun a foray into blogging for such sites as Times of Israel and The Torch.
Growing up, I was often viewed as “religious” among my peers. You might think this is compliment, but it rarely was, because that label was often accompanied by another one: “judgmental.”…Because I was more strict than others in some areas of observance, it was often assumed that I looked down on those who were less strict. To counter that image, I learned to be as subtle as possible when it came to my Jewish practice. (After all, if I hide the fact that I’m going… >> Read More
Twinkle, twinkle, kochavim (stars),
Shining in the shamayim (sky).
When I say Shema tonight,
Everything will be all right.
Years ago, my oldest child brought this song home from preschool. It…made me wonder: What, exactly, was the message they were trying to convey to my little girl? As a new mother, I rejoiced in starting to pass Jewish traditions and prayers to my daughter, such as reciting the Shema at bedtime. Freshly bathed and ready for bed, she would cuddle on my lap while we… >> Read More
It took me a long time to try yoga; I thought I wasn’t “the type.” Once I managed to get past the stereotypes, though, I began to realize that it was probably what I needed. So when I…discovered that a local teacher was offering classes for women only, I bought a mat and took the plunge. And I was right; it is exactly what I need. As I continued attending yoga classes, in fact, I began to notice a lot of unexpected parallels to my longtime passion of Jewish text study—I have… >> Read More
Two anecdotes have been on my mind lately, begging to be shared.
Story #1: Before my husband and I had children with their own needs and schedules, we usually went to synagogue together. At one…point, we often attended a small synagogue with a rabbi who was from a more “right-wing” religious community than we. I was a little shy initially to tell him that I was teaching Talmud in a local coed yeshiva high school, as women learning Talmud was likely not something he had encountered much or would… >> Read More
It was one of those moments when a parent’s world stops spinning and seems to reverberate with one two-fold question: What have I been doing wrong, and how can I do it right?!
I give a weekly…class examining various topics about women and halakha (Jewish law). One week, my then-8-year-old daughter—knowing we cover different topics, but blissfully unaware of any controversy surrounding them—very sweetly asked what the current topic was. “We’re talking now about minyan…you know what that word means, right?” She defined it pretty accurately: 10 men, required for public… >> Read More
I’m not quite sure why I feel the need to share with the world how I was accidentally starving my baby.
Am I somehow trying to atone by telling total strangers that I didn’t realize, maybe for…a week or two or four, that my milk supply was down and she was maybe getting half of what she needed? That I should have been paying closer attention, because we’d had that problem early on? Like if I shame myself publicly, the guilt will disappear? Or am I looking for validation, reassurances that… >> Read More
The reports showed up quickly on my Facebook feed, though the details were still murky. Parents killed in front of their children. Four children? Six children? Six children but only four were with…them? I have four children. Then I see a report of their ages: 9, 7, 4, and 4 months. I don’t even know if that report is accurate, and it doesn’t really matter; the horror doesn’t change because some news source got their ages wrong. But the ages hit me, because mine are the same.… >> Read More
There seems to be a widespread misconception in the Orthodox world that the upcoming holiday of Simchat Torah is a “men’s holiday.”
I can understand the confusion, stemming from what we…celebrate and how we celebrate it. Simchat Torah has evolved as a celebration of the annual cycle of weekly Torah readings—readings which, in Orthodox shuls, occur purely on the men’s side of the mechitza (divider). And we celebrate it by taking all the Torah scrolls out of the ark—also on the men’s side—and dancing seven… >> Read More
I have a neighbor who seems to outdo herself, never mind everyone else, each year with elaborate family theme costumes and mishloach manot for Purim. I don’t know how many people they give to, but…what they do is off the charts as far as being elaborate. They’ve been Smurfs and board games and British royalty, all of it incredibly professionally done and with beautiful mishloach manot packages to go along with the theme. >> Read More
I finally caved. When this class began, it was billed as an advanced Talmud “chabura” (somewhere between class and discussion), open to men and women. I joked that if they really meant for it to…be open to women, they wouldn’t have scheduled it for Thursday nights--because in my community, Thursday night is often sacred to Shabbos preparation, by and large done by women. >> Read More
It’s been two whole days. Two days and I still haven’t told my daughter.
When my daughter was little, I used to worry that she didn’t have an appropriate sense of life and…death--that she might do something stupid, even if I told her it was dangerous, because she didn’t realize what “dangerous” could mean. The first time she asked me about death, I grabbed the opportunity to try to reinforce the idea that death is serious and final--only realizing later that I had neglected any mention of… >> Read More
It’s ironic that most of my childhood memories of my father involve conversation, yet the big family joke is that he never really talked.
What we mean by the tease is that he was never…one to open up and share his thoughts and feelings. If we wanted to know how his day of teaching went, or what he liked to do in his spare time, or how he felt when he lost his mother at the age of 14, or whether he believed in God, we would have to… >> Read More