by Rabbi Sari Laufer
Long ago, the rabbis of the Talmud dedicated Rosh Hodesh—the New Moon—to women. According to them, the holiday was a reward given because the women refused to surrender their jewelry for the creation of the Golden Calf. Later, the rabbis of the Zohar—the central text of Jewish mysticism—likened the moon to the Shechinah (Divine Presence), the feminine aspect of God. We know that, at least as early as the 16th century, women would gather and offer special prayers on Rosh Hodesh.
Here at Wise, we usually mark Rosh Hodesh with a women’s prayer gathering. Cantor Emma and I, along with the women who attend, sing, study, and share blessings for each month of the Jewish year—often tied to an upcoming holiday.
Rosh Hodesh Nisan looked a little different. Ushering in Passover, over 60 women gathered on April 3 for a fun evening of schmoozing, learning, and crafting at Wise Women’s Why Is This Night Different From All Other Nights? While we do not answer the Four Questions during the Seder itself, the answer was clear on April 3. The room was filled with women across the Wise community; we came together across backgrounds, generations, and even the 405 to connect with each other and get in the Passover spirit.
Chaired by Jodie Fishman, Cheryl Cohen, and Shohreh Saadat, and taught by Cheryl Cohen, we used the old-school art of decoupage to create vibrant and modern Seder and matzah plates. Cantor Emma and I shared texts and melodies, connecting us in different ways to the Passover story. And even the most reticent crafters left with a beautiful, personal plate.
Beyond the (home-baked) food and the crafting itself, it was wonderful to watch Wise Women connecting with old friends and women they had just met. Looking around the tables, many of us brought personal photos—wedding photos, pictures of our children, favorite spots—and through those, shared stories with each other. What is Passover about, if not telling stories?
Wise Women is gearing up for a wonderful 2019-2020 season, and we can’t wait to see you at our events. Save the date now for our Challah Bake on Sunday, November 3—and if you can’t wait that long, our last Rosh Hodesh gathering of 5779 is on Wednesday, May 8 at 8:15 a.m.!