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Rabbi Jill Hammer, Ph.D.

Jill Hammer is the Director of Spiritual Education at the Academy for Jewish Religion. Jill is the author of two books: “Sisters at Sinai: New Tales of Biblical Women” (JPS, 01) and “The Jewish Book of Days: A Companion for All Seasons” (JPS, 06). She is the co-founder of the Kohenet Institute, a program in Jewish women's spiritual leadership. An essayist, poet, midrashist and ritualist, her work has been in publications including Zeek Magazine, The Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, The Torah: A Women's Commentary, The Forward, The Jewish Spectator, and Lilith as well as on-line on many websites. Several of her divrei torah can be heard on soundcloud, thanks to the Romemu congregation.


תפילת גשם בזכות האמהות | Prayer for Rain in the Merit of the Matriarchs by Rabbi Jill Hammer

Contributed on: 10 Jan 2016 by Rabbi Jill Hammer, Ph.D. |

The time of Sukkot is a time of fullness and generosity, but also a time to pray for the coming season. Shemini Atzeret, the festival when we pray for rain, is an expression of our need for water, which in the Jewish tradition symbolizes life, renewal, and deliverance. Tefillat Geshem, a graceful fixture of the Ashkenazic liturgy, invokes the patriarchs as exemplars of holiness and model recipients of God’s love. This prayer uses water as a metaphor for devotion and faith, asking that God grant us life-sustaining rain. While its authorship is unknown, it is sometimes attributed to Elazar Kallir, the great liturgist who lived sometime during the first millenium. Each year, we are reminded of our people’s connection to the patriarchs and to the rhythms of water, spiritual and physical sources of life, through this medieval piyyut. While we know that rain is a natural process, formal thanksgiving for water as a source of life, energy, and beauty reminds us that our Creator is the source of our physical world and its many wonders. . . .

בָּאנוּ חׇשֵׁךְ לְקַדֵּשׁ | Banu Ḥoshekh l’Ḳadesh (We come to sanctify the dark), by rabbis David Seidenberg and Jill Hammer

Contributed on: 09 Dec 2018 by David Seidenberg | Rabbi Jill Hammer, Ph.D. | neohasid.org |

This is a new version of the popular Ḥanukkah song, Banu Ḥoshekh. (The original by Sara Levi-Tanai can be found here.) Our new version does two things: 1) it avoids the association of darkness and blackness (shḥor) with evil and harm, which in our society gets tangled up with white supremacy, and 2) honors the darkness as something precious that we need, especially in our time of light pollution when so much of the time, so many people can’t even see the stars. . . .

ט״ו באב | The Fruit of Tu b’Av: explanation and ritual for the 15th of Av by R’ Jill Hammer

Contributed on: 13 Aug 2011 by Rabbi Jill Hammer, Ph.D. |

Tu B’Av, the fifteenth of the month of Av, comes in July or August, at a time when the air is sweltering, the sun is ever-present, and the green plant life is wilting. In Israel, Av is a month of extreme heat when nothing grows. It comes just six days after the 9th of Av, Tishah b’Av, the holiday of mourning, when the Temple is destroyed, when the Shekhinah grieves like a widow who has lost her mate. The first of Tammuz, when we recognize our exile and mortality, lingers in the heat of the air. Yet Tu B’Av is a holiday of dancing and choosing lovers, a holiday of life. It is a turning around of time. It is the moment when the fallen fruit breaks open to reveal the new seed. . . .

אוֹרָה הִיא | Orah Hee (She is light), a piyyut by Rabbi Jill Hammer (2008)

Contributed on: 12 Apr 2022 by Aharon N. Varady (transcription) | Rabbi Jill Hammer, Ph.D. |

“Orah hee” was composed by Rabbi Jill Hammer in 2008 and first published at Tel Shemesh in romanized Hebrew and English translation. . . .

The Offering: A Tashlikh Prayer, by Rabbi Jill Hammer

Contributed on: 31 Aug 2019 by Rabbi Jill Hammer, Ph.D. |

Today I turned my heart toward the new year and wrote a prayer-poem for Tashlikh, the Rosh haShanah ritual of casting bread or stones into the water to cast off one’s past wrongdoings. . . .

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