How to Run a Women’s Rosh Chodesh Group

Rosh Chodesh signifies the beginning of the month, according to the Jewish calendar. Jewish feminists have reclaimed the festival of Rosh Chodesh, new moon, as a sacred time for women and an opportunity to experiment with the rituals of Jewish prayer.

Try to locate women that you know might be interested in such a group. Ask your synagogue for permission to run an advertisement in their newsletter. Your group can meet in someone’s home. There is no reason you need to be in a synagogue.

Hold an initial meeting on a Rosh Chodesh and clarify your aims. Discuss the option of starting a prayer group, or a support group. Decide whether you would like your group to be discussion-based or specifically a social committee.

Begin each meeting service with a poem, reflection or reading. If you cannot find one you like, write your own. Focus discussion on issues relevant to Jewish women. Examples might include: women at the Western Wall, access to ritual, Judaism and feminism, changing women’s roles in society, the status of women. Keep up to date with current affairs by subscribing to a Jewish women’s magazine such as Lilith.

Occasionally invite a woman of worth from your community to share her story with your group. Encourage all heroines. Jewish matriarchs were leaders, prophets, judges and queens. Their heritage is equally precious to us.

Set aside one of your meetings for a purely social activity. You might decide to see a movie with a Jewish theme, or go out for dinner. Keep refreshments simple, and kosher. This is supposed to be a holiday for women, not extra work.

FUTHER READING:

Lifecycles: Jewish Women on Life Passages and Personal Milestones, Rabbi Debra Orenstein [ed], Jewish Lights Publishing, Woodstock, Vermont, 1998

The Five Books of Miriam: A Woman’s Commentary on the Torah, Ellen Frankel, Harper San Francisco, 1998

Jewish and Female, Susan Wiedman Schneider, Touchstone book, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1985

Words on Fire: One Woman’s Journey into the Fire, Vanessa L. Ochs, a Harvest/HBJ book, San Diego, 1990

Lilith magazine

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