Significance of the Month
Rosh Chodesh Tevet always falls during the holiday of Chanukah. Tevet is the tenth month of the Jewish calendar.
Chanukah, the celebration of the Jews' victory over the Greeks and the rededication of the Temple, which begins on the 25th of Kislev, carries over into the first few days of Tevet. We celebrate by lighting Chanukah Menorah beginning with one candle and then adding one each night, culminating with eight candles on the final night of Chanukah. Traditional Chanukah foods include potato pancakes, donuts, and other things fried in oil.
The Tenth of Tevet is a fast day on which the Babylonians laid siege to Jerusalem during the First Temple Period. The siege lasted for three years and was the "beginning of the end" of the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of the Jews. In modern Israel the Tenth of Tevet has been designated as Yom haKaddish haKlali, the day on which we mourn those whose date or place of death is not known. Many people use this day to remember the victims of the Holocaust.
Women to Celebrate
Judith - The apocryphal Book of Judith is not included in the Hebrew Bible, but is mentioned in Jewish sources, some of which associate Judith with the holiday of Chanukah.
Serach bat Asher - The daughter of Asher, the son of Jacob and namesake of one of the 12 Tribes of Israel. Midrashic literature links Serach to the Exodus story and the rest of Jewish history. Serach offers a wonderful female character to incorporate into the Passover story. As her character is developed in the Midrashic sources, she also raises important questions about Jewish memory.
Dina - During Tevet we usually read the Torah portions toward the end of the Book of Genesis. One of the characters that we encounter is Dina, the daughter of Jacob and Leah. One of the most troubling stories in the Bible is the story of the rape of Dina by Shechem, and the subsequent reaction of Jacob and his other sons. This episode has recently been reexamined by Anita Diamant's popular book The Red Tent. To learn more about Dina visit archived D'var Torahs of Parshat Vayishlach.
Famous Women's Yahrzeits
Barbara Myerhoff - 14 Tevet 5745 (January 7, 1985). Renowned anthropologist whose work shaped the anthropological study of ritual and of life histories. Myerhoff redefined academic and public perceptions of the elderly and was a pioneer in her scholarship on women and religion.
Lily Montague - 25 Tevet 5723 (January 21, 1963). Founder of the Liberal movement in England and of the World Union of Progressive Judaism.
Judith: A Chanukah Heroine - The apocryphal Book of Judith is not included in the Hebrew Bible, but is mentioned in Jewish sources, some of which associate Judith with the holiday of Chanukah.
Serach bat Asher - Learn more about the daughter of Asher, one of the 12 Tribes of Israel. She receives very little mention in the Bible, but is depicted extensively in Midrashic literature, which says that Serach never died. Serach offers a wonderful female character to incorporate into the Passover story. As her character is developed in the Midrashic sources, she also raises important questions about Jewish memory.
Serach Bat Asher (PDF file 117Kb)
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Eshet Chayil - The anthropologist Barbara Myerhoff, whose yahrzeit is observed this month, was a pioneer in the study of women and religion. The following is a post-modern Talmud page, based on Eshet Chayil, the Bible's portrayal of the ideal Jewish woman. This Talmud page examines the tensions and sparks between the Eshet Chayil text (Proverbs 31:10-31), traditional Jewish commentary, and the voices of modern "Women of Valor." Join Beruriah, Bella Abzug, and several others in a dynamic conversation about the meaning and impact of a woman of "chayil."
Dreidel - Everyone's favorite Chanukah gambling game!
Red Tent Book Discussion- Anita Diamant's wildly popular historical-fictional account of Dina's story and experience, which deals with issues of womanhood and familial relationships in Biblical times. In preparation for this month's meeting have everyone read the book and come prepared to discuss it You may want to invite a university faculty member to lead the discussion.
Self-Defense/Rape Prevention Class - The story of Dina in the weekly Torah portion serves as a yearly reminder of the danger of rape and domestic violence against women. Bring in an expert to teach members of the group self-defense methods and to discuss domestic violence awareness. Many universities have groups on campus that can help to facilitate this workshop. (Try contacting campus police or the women's resource center.)
Women and Religion - During Tevet we celebrate the anthropologist Barbara Myerhoff, who was a pioneer in scholarship on women and religion. Have a discussion about women's role in religion in general and Judaism in particular. Are there distinct roles for women and men? Should there be?