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About Danya Ruttenberg
Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg is the author of On Repentance and Repair: Making Amends in an Unrepentant World (Beacon Press, 2022), Nurture the Wow: Finding Spirituality in the Frustration, Boredom, Tears, Poop, Desperation, Wonder, and Radical Amazement of Parenting (Flatiron Books, 2016), a National Jewish Book Award finalist, and Surprised By God: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Religion (Beacon Press), which was nominated for the Sami Rohr Prize in Jewish Literature.
She was named by Newsweek and The Daily Beast as one of ten “rabbis to watch,” as one of 21 “faith leaders to watch” by the Center for American Progress, by the Forward as one of the top 50 most influential women rabbis, has been a Washington Post Sunday crossword clue (83 Down) and, in her younger days, called a “wunderkund of Jewish feminism” by Publishers Weekly.
She is also editor of The Passionate Torah: Sex and Judaism (NYU Press) and Yentl's Revenge: The Next Wave of Jewish Feminism (Seal Press); and co-editor, with Rabbi Elliot Dorff, of three books on Jewish ethics: Sex and Intimacy (JPS); War and National Security (JPS, August 2010); and Social Justice (JPS, August 2010).
She has written for The New York Times, The Atlantic, he Washington Post, Time, and many other publications. She has been featured on NPR, in The Atlantic, USA Today, NBC News, CNN, MTV News, Vice, Buzzfeed News, Upworthy, the Canadian Broadcasting Company, Al Jazeera America, and elsewhere.
She serves as Scholar in Residence at the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW). More information about her can be found at http://danyaruttenberg.net/.
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Books By Danya Ruttenberg
Myra H. Kraft Memorial Award
A crucial new lens on repentance, atonement, forgiveness, and repair from harm—from personal transgressions to our culture’s most painful and unresolved issues
American culture focuses on letting go of grudges and redemption narratives instead of the perpetrator’s obligations or recompense for harmed parties. As survivor communities have pointed out, these emphases have too often only caused more harm. But Danya Ruttenberg knew there was a better model, rooted in the work of the medieval philosopher Maimonides.
For Maimonides, upon whose work Ruttenberg elaborates, forgiveness is much less important than the repair work to which the person who caused harm is obligated. The word traditionally translated as repentance really means something more like return, and in this book, returning is a restoration, as much as is possible, to the victim, and, for the perpetrator of harm, a coming back, in humility and intentionality, to behaving as the person we might like to believe we are.
Maimonides laid out 5 steps: naming and owning harm; starting to change/transformation; restitution and accepting consequences; apology; and making different choices. Applying this lens to both our personal relationships and some of the most significant and painful issues of our day, including systemic racism and the legacy of enslavement, sexual violence and harassment in the wake of #MeToo, and Native American land rights, On Repentance and Repair helps us envision a way forward.
Rooted in traditional Jewish concepts while doggedly accessible and available to people from any, or no, religious background, On Repentance and Repair is a book for anyone who cares about creating a country and culture that is more whole than the one in which we live, and for anyone who has been hurt or who is struggling to take responsibility for their mistakes.
A deeply affecting, funny, insightful meditation that challenges readers to find the spiritual meaning of parenting.
Every day, parents are bombarded by demands. The pressures of work and life are relentless; our children’s needs are often impossible to meet; and we rarely, if ever, allow ourselves the time and attention necessary to satisfy our own inner longings. Parenthood is difficult, demanding, and draining. And yet, argues Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, if we can approach it from a different mindset, perhaps the work of parenting itself can offer the solace we seek.
Rooted in Judaism but incorporating a wide-range of religious and literary traditions, Nurture the Wow asks, Can ancient ideas about relationships, drudgery, pain, devotion, and purpose help make the hard parts of a parent’s job easier and the magical stuff even more so? Ruttenberg shows how parenting can be considered a spiritual practice—and how seeing it that way can lead to transformation. This is a parenthood book, not a parenting book; it shows how the experiences we have as parents can change us for the better.
Enlightening, uplifting, and laugh-out-loud funny, Nurture the Wow reveals how parenthood—in all its crazy-making, rage-inducing, awe and joy-filled moments—can actually be the path to living fully, authentically, and soulfully.
As a young adult, Danya immersed herself in the rhinestone-bedazzled wonderland of late-1990s San Francisco-attending Halloweens on the Castro, drinking smuggled absinthe with wealthy geeks, and plotting the revolution with feminist zinemakers. But she found herself yearning for something she would eventually call God. As she began inhaling countless stories of spiritual awakenings of Catholic saints, Buddhist nuns, medieval mystics, and Hasidic masters, she learned that taking that yearning seriously would require much of her.
Surprised by God is a religious coming-of-age story, from the mosh pit to the Mission District and beyond. It's the memoir of a young woman who found, lost, and found again communities of like-minded seekers, all the while taking a winding, semi-reluctant path through traditional Jewish practice that eventually took her to the rabbinate. It's a post-dotcom, third-wave, punk-rock Seven Storey Mountain-the story of integrating life on the edge of the twenty-first century into the discipline of traditional Judaism without sacrificing either. It's also a map through the hostile territory of the inner life, an unflinchingly honest guide to the kind of work that goes into developing a spiritual practice in today's world-and why, perhaps, doing this in today's world requires more work than it ever has.
Can the teachings of Judaism provide a sacred framework for repairing the world?
In this groundbreaking volume, leading rabbis, intellectuals, and activists explore the relationship between Judaism and social justice, drawing on ancient and modern sources of wisdom. The contributors argue that American Jewry must move beyond “mitzvah days” and other occasional service programs, and dedicate itself to systemic change in the United States, Israel, and throughout the world. These provocative essays concentrate on specific justice issues such as eradicating war, global warming, health care, gay rights and domestic violence, offering practical ways to transform theory into practice, and ideas into advocacy.
Rich and passionate, these expressions will inspire you to consider your obligations as a Jew, as an American and as a global citizen, while challenging you to take thoughtful and effective action in the world.
Martha Ackelsberg, PhD Rabbi Rebecca Alpert, PhD Diane Balser, PhD Jeremy Benstein, PhD Rabbi Phyllis Berman Ellen Bernstein Marla Brettschneider, PhD Rabbi Sharon Brous Aryeh Cohen, PhD Stephen P. Cohen, PhD Rabbi Elliot N. Dorff, PhD Aaron Dorfman Jacob Feinspan Rabbi Marla Feldman Sandra M. Fox, LCSW Julia Greenberg Mark Hanis Rabbi Jill Jacobs Rabbi Jane Kanarek, PhD Rabbi Elliot Rose Kukla Joshua Seth Ladon Arieh Lebowitz Rabbi Michael Lerner, PhD Shaul Magid, PhD Rabbi Natan Margalit, PhD Ruth Messinger Jay Michaelson Rabbi Micha Odenheimer Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner Judith Plaskow, PhD Judith Rosenbaum, PhD April Rosenblum Adam Rubin, PhD Danya Ruttenberg Rabbi David Saperstein Joel Schalit Rabbi Sidney Schwarz, PhD Martin I. Seltman, MD Dara Silverman Daniel Sokatch Shana Starobin Naomi Tucker Abigail Uhrman Rabbi Arthur Waskow, PhD Rabbi Melissa Weintraub
What Have We Accomplished? What Is Still to Be Done?
“When you are in the middle of the revolution you can’t really plan the next steps ahead. But now we can. The book is intended to open up a dialogue between the early Jewish feminist pioneers and the young women shaping Judaism today…. Read it, use it, debate it, ponder it.”
—from the Introduction
- Women and Theology
- Women, Ritual and Torah
- Women and the Synagogue
- Women in Israel
- Gender, Sexuality and Age
- Women and the Denominations
- Leadership and Social Justice
In this unique collection of essays, some of today’s smartest Jewish thinkers explore a broad range of fundamental questions in an effort to balance ancient tradition and modern sexuality
In the last few decades a number of factors—post-modernism, feminism, queer liberation, and more—have brought discussion of sexuality to the fore, and with it a whole new set of questions that challenge time-honored traditions and ways of thinking. For Jews of all backgrounds, this has often led to an unhappy standoff between tradition and sexual empowerment.
Yet as The Passionate Torah illustrates, it is of critical importance to see beyond this apparent conflict if Jews are to embrace both their religious beliefs and their sexuality. With incisive essays from contemporary rabbis, scholars, thinkers, and writers, this collection not only surveys the challenges that sexuality poses to Jewish belief, but also offers fresh new perspectives and insights on the changing place of sexuality within Jewish theology—and Jewish lives. Covering topics such as monogamy, inter-faith relationships, reproductive technology, homosexuality, and a host of other hot-button issues, these writings consider how contemporary Jews can engage themselves, their loved ones, and their tradition in a way that’s both sexy and sanctified.
Seeking to deepen the Jewish conversation about sexuality, The Passionate Torah brings together brilliant thinkers in an attempt to bridge the gap between the sacred and the sexual.
Contributors: Rebecca Alpert, Wendy Love Anderson, Judith R. Baskin, Aryeh Cohen, Elliot Dorff, Esther Fuchs, Bonna Haberman, Elliot Kukla, Gail Labovitz, Malka Landau, Sarra Lev, Laura Levitt, Sara Meirowitz, Jay Michaelson, Haviva Ner-David, Danya Ruttenberg, Naomi Seidman, and Arthur Waskow.
In the wake of Sassy and as an alternative to the more staid reporting of Ms., Bitch was launched in the mid-nineties as a Xerox-and-staple zine covering the landscape of popular culture from a feminist perspective. Both unabashed in its love for the guilty pleasures of consumer culture and deeply thoughtful about the way the pop landscape reflects and impacts women's lives, Bitch grew to be a popular, full-scale magazine with a readership that stretched worldwide. Today it stands as a touchstone of hip, young feminist thought, looking with both wit and irreverence at the way pop culture informs feminism—and vice versa—and encouraging readers to think critically about the messages lurking behind our favorite television shows, movies, music, books, blogs, and the like. BITCHFest offers an assortment of the most provocative essays, reporting, rants, and raves from the magazine's first ten years, along with new pieces written especially for the collection. Smart, nuanced, cranky, outrageous, and clear-eyed, the anthology covers everything from a 1996 celebration of pre-scandal Martha Stewart to a more recent critical look at the "gayby boom"; from a time line of black women on sitcoms to an analysis of fat suits as the new blackface; from an attempt to fashion a feminist vulgarity to a reclamation of female virginity. It's a recent history of feminist pop-culture critique and an arrow toward feminism's future.