Sacred Bodies, Sacred Spaces: Exploring Niddah in Our Jewish Tradition

  • 7:00 pm ET - 9:00 pm ET
  • Hybrid: Online or in-person at Mayyim Hayyim
    1838 Washington Street
    Newton, MA 02466

Are you…

  • Curious about the laws of niddah and their practices?
  • Wondering whether this practice is accessible to you?
  • Skeptical about the potential feminist interpretations of niddah?
  • Interested in wrestling with what this embodied practice has brought to the Jewish people?
  • Wondering what it could mean for you?

Together with a diverse set of partners, Mayyim Hayyim will offer a series exploring menstruation and the practice of niddah (monthly separation from sexual contact surrounding the time of menstruation followed by immersion in the mikveh). Jews of all denominations, background, genders, and sexual orientation practice niddah for a variety of reasons, while others choose not to.

This series will offer multiple modalities of learning about niddah so learners can explore in-depth questions about this practice, as well as consider whether niddah might be a meaningful ritual within their lives.

The series will explore:

  • The textual sources for niddah, including a dive into the conversation around menstruating bodies
  • The relationship between sex, intimacy, menstruation, and the role of ritual in navigating these experiences in our lives
  • How individuals and families with various gender identities might approach niddah
  • The connections between embodied ritual, the natural world, and the experience of transitions and time

 

Guest Faculty

Rabbi Avigayil Halpern (she/her) is an educator and writer whose work focuses on feminist and queer Torah, most recently through her newsletter project, Approaching (avigayil.substack.com). She is currently a Scholar-in-Residence at The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, where she is at work on a book tentatively titled “Queer Niddah: Theology and Practice,” and the Rabbinic Fellow at Hillel Deustchland. Avigayil served as the Cooperberg-Rittmaster Pastoral and Educational Intern at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in 2023, and has taught in Torah institutions and synagogues internationally. Avigayil holds rabbinic ordination from the Hadar Institute, and a BA in Judaic Studies from Yale University. She has completed a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education at New York Presbyterian/Columbia, is trained as a Mikveh Guide through Rising Tide, the national network of community mikvaot, and has participated in Faith Matters’ Movement Chaplaincy Training. Avigayil was selected as one of the New York Jewish Week’s “36 Under 36” in 2021, and as a Vatichtov: She Writes fellow in 2022.

 

Aviva Herr-Welber is a rabbinical student at Hebrew College, and she loves facilitating learning about mikveh for youth and adults in her capacity as Mayyim Hayyim’s rabbinic intern. Many years ago Aviva participated in a course about Niddah at Mayyim Hayyim, a powerful experience which helped inform her current practice and her love for mikveh. She’s thrilled to return to this conversation now and to continue exploring and wrestling with Niddah.

 

Rabbi Shani Rosenbaum serves on the faculty of the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College, where she teaches rabbinic and halakhic literature. She holds a BA in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University and received rabbinic ordination from Hebrew College. Shani is a core faculty member for the Mandel Foundation’s Cultural Leadership Program, and has taught Talmud, Midrash in Halakha in a range of community contexts. Shani has served on the programming teams of Encounter and OLAM, and in 2020, she conducted a “Jewish Law and Ethics Hackathon for the Age of COVID-19” for T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. Shani is passionate about the power of bringing our lived human experience in conversation with our ancestors’, and is thrilled for this opportunity to continue expanding the circle of conversation about niddah..

 

 

Soreh Ruffman acts as the Director of the Boston Mikveh and Programming for Mayyim Hayyim and is honored to be part of this incredible educator team. She believes that the mikveh is the right place for us to be discussing niddah and helping our community better understand its origins and current practices. Soreh hopes the series will allow this important content to be more accessible to those who have not otherwise had access and offer new insights to those who have studied niddah previously.

 

Rabbi Miriam-Simma Walfish is faculty at Hadar and a Senior Coach for Pedagogy of Partnership. She sees Torah study as a rich conversation between us and the voices of our tradition and is especially interested in having those conversations in the area of gender and embodiment. She has published several articles, including, “Upending the Curse of Eve: Reframing Maternal Breastfeeding in BT Ketubot” (2017). She is honored to be returning to Mayyim Hayyim where she taught the Niddah Salon in 2018. She revels in the process of learning Torah with and from her students.

 

Schedule

March 6 | In-person and virtual options | Rabbi Shani Rosenbaum
March 13 | In-person and virtual options | Rabbi Avigayil Halpern
March 20 | Virtual only | Rabbi Miriam-Simma Walfish
March 27 | Virtual only | Rabbi Avigayil Halpern
April 3rd | In-person and virtual options | Soreh Ruffman and Aviva Herr-Welber

 

 

This program is generously supported by a Community Impact Grant from CJP.         

 

Co-Sponsors:

 

Registration

When registering, you agree to participate in all five sessions. If there is concern about this, please email our Program Director.







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