WWOT: Weekly Words of Torah – Parashat Beshalach

To inspire, guide, engage, enrich, and empower Conservative Jewish Women
By Rabbi Ellen S. Wolintz-Fields, Executive Director, Women’s League For Conservative Judaism

This Shabbat, we read Parsahat Beshalach, which is also referred to as Shabbat Shira, the Shabbat of Song. Also, we have designated this Shabbat as Sisterhood Shabbat. This Shabbat is called the Shabbat Shira because we read Shirat HaYam, the Song of the Sea, which Moses sang after the children of Israel crossed over the Sea of Reeds, also referred to as the Red Sea, or Yam Soof. After Moses sang Shirat HaYam, Miriam, his sister, took her timbrel in her hand and led the women in song. The second reason this Shabbat is called Shabbat Shira is because the Haftarah is the Song of Deborah, from the Book of Judges, which is the victory song sung by Deborah and Barak after their defeat of the Canaanite adversaries by some of the tribes of Israel.

I believe that every Shabbat should be considered a “Shabbat of song” – even if you sing off key. Singing and music are soothing and a way to connect people. Many of our synagogue melodies are just humming – so, even if one does not know Hebrew, you can still hum along. Additionally, many of our siddurim have transliterations so, if you do not know how to read Hebrew yet, you can still read along. If there is a prayer that is not transliterated, contact me, and I will transliterate it for you. (Or, we can have a basic Hebrew class started in our Sisterhoods, if they do not already exist.)

We have designated this Shabbat as Sisterhood Shabbat, but, let’s be honest – every Shabbat should be Sisterhood Shabbat. I am so proud of the work that Women’s League for Conservative Judaism has been doing since our creation by Mathilde Schechter in 1918, and our next century will be even better! We are women – hear our voices – every day, every Shabbat. Sing loud! Sing proud! Let our voices be heard!  Shabbat Shalom to all!

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