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What’s in a (Feminist) Hebrew Name?

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The Rising Voices Fellowship is a national program for teenage girls who have a passion for writing and an interest in Judaism, gender, and justice. The Fellowship provides leadership training and a platform for identity exploration and advocacy through blogging. Over the course of the school year, the Rising Voices Fellows meet for monthly webinars and in-person retreats to investigate topics related to feminism and Judaism, and to learn how to value, develop, share, and promote their ideas. This Fellowship is a partnership between the Jewish Women’s Archive and Prozdor of Hebrew College. Kveller will periodically be sharing pieces from the Rising Voices Fellows. The first one is below.

Many things about my lifestyle confuse my grandmother. She does not understand why I wear white after Labor Day, how I can text so quickly, or why I’m vegetarian.

And four years ago, she could not understand how my name would be read as I was called to the Torah to become a Bat Mitzvah.

Traditionally, I would be Ilana bat (my mother’s Hebrew name, which happens to be Rachel) and (my father’s Hebrew name.) The issue with that formula was, I only had one parent. I have only ever had one parent.

To assuage my grandmother’s anxiety, I asked my rabbi what my Hebrew name would be, considering I have a single mom.

“Well,” he responded, “I guess you would just be Ilana bat Rachel.” And so it was. As I was called up to the Torah, my name echoed throughout the synagogue, announcing, “this is a Jewish woman, daughter of a single mother.”

Read the rest of this post at JWA.org

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