Aliza Lavie interview in

Aliza Lavie speaks in Boca Raton
More Pictures from this event

Prof. Aliza Lavie addresses the crowd from Lincoln Square Synagogue in NYC.

Aliza Lavie and Rabbi David Lerner
Aliza and Rabbi David Lerner
at Temple Emunah event

Barbara, Dick and Aliza
Barbara,Dick and Aliza
at Temple Emunah event

Bar Ilan University President Professor Moshe Kave in a seminar in honor of Aliza's book

A Jewish Woman's Prayer Book Seminar at Bar Ilan University

A Jewish Woman's Prayer Book Seminar at Bar Ilan University

תפילת נשים מקבל את ספר הזהב
Golden Book Award Event

אירוע ספר הזהב
Golden Book Award Event

אירוע ספר הזהב
Golden Book Award Event



This is My Prayer -- Va'ani Tefillati
Jewish Women in Prayer
March 1, 2009
Plenary Keynote: Jewish Women's Prayers Are Coming Home!
Dr. Aliza Lavie

Some answers to questions and to individual responses
during the conference:

Q: Why do you think "A Jewish Women's Prayer Book" has been such a hit in Israel?
A: The book has been accepted from a place of longing in Jewish History. The book has filled a void for everyone, especially women.

Q: Can you tell me about specific responses by readers to the English edition here?
A: The book has opened a long and deep discussion about things people have been asking for a long time, but they had no where to focus their questions. There have been so many questions asked. My book has allowed people to start asking questions and praying.
People have shared with me many stories about the prayers and histories they have held onto for years yet never looked into. People who had Fanny Neuda prayers yet didn't know where their grandmothers got them. People have also added more information about other personalities I had found, etc…

What has been most interesting from the American public however, is something I never thought about before coming here. There are many Jews who arrived in America before the Holocaust and they brought with them ancient texts and knowledge passed onto them from their past generations which I never knew about. These are much older texts than those brought out after the Holocaust and the oral knowledge passed down through these people is unfounded in those who survived the Holocaust or escaped just before. The Holocaust wiped out so much of our oral tradition yet now I am finding sources to go back to. I feel that the prayers I have collected are a last effort to save what can be saved of our past.

Q: Were you surprised when Dr. Anne Lerner told you she would be planning a conference inspired by your book?
A: I was not completely surprised by Dr. Lerner's interest as it came out of the response to the first lecture I gave when I arrived in America. My surprise however is her unwavering interest and commitment to this conference. Dr. Lerner thought it could be and she went ahead and has made it happen. I am much indebted.
The collection of prayers in my book has served as a source of unification between the streams and forces of American Jewry. The prayers stem from our collective memory even if we did not realize it until now. I have simply put the words on paper.
A Jewish Women's Prayer Book has affected men and women from all sects and areas of Judaism. It has been grasped by those who pray daily and those who have never opened a prayer book.
This conference will be the first time that women from all the movements will be sitting together to meet, talk, and maybe pray. I am pleased that I may speak before such a diverse panorama of American Jewry. I pray that this will be a beginning for these women to work together and learn more about our collective history.

Q: What will you speak about at the conference?
A: I will speak about 2 matters primarily: First, why women needed their own prayers and what we can learn from them. What these prayers answered for these Jewish women in the Diaspora; women of different ages and backgrounds and in different historical settings. Secondly, when we see a book like this we have to ask what is not included, and why? What other prayers and personalities are out there that we haven't found yet? Is it already too late to find some of them?
I would also like to make this a call to the public to work, and work fast to save what we still can. Everyone can be a part of saving this important part of our history; whether it is by donating money, translating texts, searching for lost texts, telling their oral histories, or sharing documents in their possession, etc. It is important that we all do what we can.

Q: Can you introduce me to a few women whose prayer practice has been altered (even slightly) by reading the book?
A: Fanny Neuda's Bat Mitzva Prayer has now become standard at most Bat Mitzva ceremonies. Mothers have begun to say the prayer for their sons as they go off to the army. Women have given new life and breath to these prayers.

People have taken these texts into their own lives and circumstances. For example, a Passover Haggada written by a woman in Auschwitz is now included by many families at their own Passover tables. This text is also recited by many students when they visit Poland with their schools. Read more: The eve of Passover, 5705 - 1945 By Aliza Lavie, Haaretz, April 2006 (this article is based on information recieved after the book was published). also:

Q: How has research for the book changed your own prayer practice? Please give specific examples of events in your life in which you turned to women's prayers or created your own. (I read about your son's bar mitzvah… have there been other examples?)
A: I was born into a home where women knew how to speak with God. The more I grew and learned, I understood that most women had forgotten to speak with God in their own language and way. Having found these prayers has given me, and many, many other women the courage to write our own prayers as needed. To pray independently and in groups as only women do.

Take for example, the prayer I wrote for my son's bar mitzvah a year and a half ago, and another prayer, written by Dalia Yohanan, p.364 in the English book, that is a mother's memorial prayer for her son. Dalia's prayer is included only in the English because it is new. It was the Hebrew book which gave her the courage to write her own prayer when she needed it most.

Q: I've read that you didn't include prayers by non-Orthodox rabbis in the Hebrew edition of the book. Is this true? If so, why not.
A: The Hebrew book is a compilation of three years of comprehensive research which I conducted in Israel. I published what I found which in itself is a statement of the limits of research.
The Conservative and Reform prayers which I found later will hopefully be included in my future work.

Q: I've read that you did include prayers written by non-Orthodox women in the English edition. Is this true? If so, what changed your position?
A: The English edition is a translation of the Hebrew, with only one addition, the prayer by Dalia Yohanan mentioned above.

Q: In what other ways is the English edition different than the Hebrew one?
A: The English edition is a further compilation of things I learned from personal testimonies after the Hebrew version was published. The Hebrew book prompted a windfall of information which could not have been gathered earlier. It was the book itself which allowed further research. What I could amend, has been added into the English.

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