2011 Conference
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Ruth Balinsky

Yeshivat Maharat

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Ruth Balinsky is studying in her second year of Yeshivat Maharat. She graduated Barnard College in 2007 with a BA in Psychology and Jewish Studies. After college, Ruth studied in the Drisha Beit Midrash program and Scholars Circle. Last summer she worked as Rabbinic Fellow for Or Tzedek, a social justice program for Jewish teens. Ruth also served as Rosh Beit Midrash of Uri L'Tzedek.

Between Anger and Apologetics

Understanding Hilchot Niddah (the Laws of Menstrual Purity)

Ritual, Prayer & Spirituality, Text & Thought

The Laws of Niddah, or Menstrual Purity, are often approached as either a malicious attempt to control and punish women, or as a beautiful system that maintains the sanctity of a Jewish marriage. In this session we will explore a variety of rabbinic texts on the topic that will help us understand Hilchot Niddah as a rabbinic attempt to grapple with the unknown, and enable us to establish a middle-ground perspective.

The Making of the Wicked Son

Ishmael in Jewish and Muslim Commentaries

Text & Thought

Ishmael is conventionally taught as an unfavorable, even wicked, character in the Jewish tradition. However, the Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer, an 8th-century midrash (interpretation), deviates from this narrative and portrays Abraham and Ishmael’s relationship as one of love and intimacy. In this session we will explore this fascinating midrash and compare it to an early Muslim commentary in an ultimate attempt to understand how these two commentaries perceived the early relationship between Jews and Muslims.


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