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  • Lara Crigger

Inside The Zionist Roots Of Rosh Chodesh

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The Zionist Roots Of Rosh Chodesh

The phases of the moon
The phases of the moon

On Saturday at sundown starts Rosh Chodesh, a monthly holiday celebrating the new moon. Long considered a holiday connected deeply with the feminine, Rosh Chodesh has its origins in this week’s Torah portion, Vayak’hel.

In the passage, we learn how the Israelite women rushed forward to donate their gold jewelry for the Tabernacle construction effort. The Hebrew words used here—nezem, taba’at, kumaz—refer specifically to the kinds of jewelry worn by women of that era: nose rings, rings, armlets, and so on. The implication being that the ladies ripped the jewelry right off their bodies, then and there, to fervently give it to the first big public works project of the infant nation of Israel.

But that raises the question: Where did the women get all this gold from? After all, didn’t Aaron specifically tell the Israelite men agitating for a new leader to “take the jewelry from their wives, sons, and daughters, and bring them” to be melted down—the end result being the creation of the golden calf? So where did the women find all these earrings and brooches, if their jewelry already had been melted down?

The conclusion the sages draw is that the women didn’t give up their jewelry for the golden calf. Instead, they only relinquished some ornaments, provided under duress and at the insistence of their husbands. Contrast that with when it came time to build the Tabernacle, and the women donated so much of their personal jewelry that Moses had to tell them to stop giving.

As a “reward” for their generosity and loyalty to Adonai, the Israelite women were honored

with the holiday of Rosh Chodesh, which we still celebrate today.

While this narrative is Biblical, we see its spirit reflected throughout Jewish history: Time and time again, women rush to donate their precious time, funds, and efforts for the betterment of their community, often without recognition. And through these donations, the entire world benefits.

Women also have been some of the fiercest Zionists throughout history. From Prime

Minister Golda Meir to my grandmother’s sewing circle who collected money for Israel bonds after the Independence War, Jewish women’s hands built, nurtured, and protected the state of Israel from its very beginnings. Even now, some of the strongest Zionist voices belong to women: Zionness’s Amanda Berman, Boundless’s Aviva Klompas, author and actress Noa Tishby, actress and activist Mayim Bialik—the list goes on and on.

In addition to the upcoming Rosh Chodesh, March is also Women’s History Month, a time dedicated to celebrating the remarkable women that have shaped the trajectory of our society. As we think about these incredible women, let’s not forget the female Zionists who have worked so tirelessly to bring to life the Jewish state—including the first ones, who tore the rings off their very fingers for God and the nation of Israel.


New ADL Report: Antisemitism Spikes Since 10/7

In their newly released Antisemitic Attitudes In America 2024 Report, the ADL Center for Antisemitism Research found that antisemitic beliefs are spiking among Americans, particularly the youngest cohort. Although support for a Jewish state remains high overall (89% said Jews had the right to an independent country), 30% of Americans surveyed said Israel supporters control the media, and 45% said Jews are more loyal to Israel than to America. The results are troubling, if not particularly surprising. Stay safe out there.


I'm Suing Harvard. Antisemitism Is Out Of Control.

In an op-ed published in Newsweek, Shabbos Kestenbaum, a student at Harvard's Divinity School, explains why he took the difficult step of suing the university for harboring and amplifying antisemitism on campus, thus putting its Jewish student body at risk. Read the full op-ed: "I"m Suing Harvard. Antisemitism Is Out of Control"

Another op-ed published the same day by Palestinian rights activist Bassem Eid calls on the world to wake up to the real perpetrators of Gazan starvation: Hamas. Read the full op-ed: "My Fellow Palestinians: Stop Blaming The Jews--Hamas Is Starving Our Brothers & Sisters In Gaza."



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