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December 23, 2013 / Rabbi Laura

Shiphrah, Puah, Phyllis, Rebecca and Liz

Okay, so we were a day late. But I couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to study parshat Shemot with the Temple Beth Israel Women’s Torah Study Group.


Shemot is one of my favorite Torah portions. Its kind of like having a favorite child, I know. Yet Shemot speaks to me unlike other passages from Torah.

Unlike other sections of Torah, the names (shemot) we learn are those of women.  And not just 1 woman, or 2 but 7 women!  All together, we interact with 12 women in this one portion:

Shiphrah and Puah, the brave midwives
Yocheved, Moses’s mother
Miriam, Moses’s sister
Bat Pharoah (the daughter of Pharoah) whom the rabbis name Batya
Tzipporah, Moses’s wife
Tzipporah’s 6 sisters, whom Moses helps save from a dangerous situation

12 women paralleling the 12 tribes of Israel.

12 women who start a revolution.

12 women who, through their civil disobedience, stand up against injustice and evil

12 women who empower and are empowered

12 women who help save and build a nation.

What moves me most about these women is their “just do it” attitude. No asking permission. No strategic planning committee. Just taking action.

As one member of our study group put it, “it didn’t take a committee, but it did take a community.”

As I spent my Shabbat morning preparing for our Sunday Torah study, thinking of these inspirational women in the Torah, my heart turned toward 3 women who inspire me today.

Rabbi Phyllis Sommer

Rabbi Rebecca Einstein Schorr

Rabbi Elizabeth Wood

Facing an unspeakable challenge, the imminent death of her son, Sammy, Phyllis turned her thoughts to preventing such pain and sadness for other children and families.

Watching their dear friend struggle, channeling strength & imagination, Rebecca and Liz could not stand idly by. #36rabbis Shave for the Brave was born.

No committee meetings.

Drawing on the power of relationships

Bringing together a vast community.

Their vision – like Shiphrah, Puah, Yocheved, and Miriam – to save children’s lives
Thank you to those who have already joined our mitzvah battle against childhood cancer.

If you have not already, please consider joining us as well.

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