Ilana Goldhaber-Gordon
Judaic Writing

Most recent publication: 

Tzedakah: Anonymity or Relationship? This article about tzedakah was inspired by participants in my Thursday afternoon class at Congregation Etz Chayim (CJ Voices)

Publications ordered by topic:


Abraham's Attributes suggests how to find meaning in the story of the binding of Isaac (Shma).

Living with Magic describes the power of Torah study to enchant our everyday lives (CJ)

Control and Order, Wonder and Chaos offers both a scientific and a Jewish view of the chaos and mystery in our world (Zeek).

Breaking a Recession's Social Barriers offers hasidic insights for times of communal stress (Hadassah Magazine).

Ritual and Prayer

Our Bodies, Our Homes is a comment on kashrut observance, written for Hadassah Magazine.

This creative recasting of the Amidah prayer is inspired by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi's charge to "daven the heart of the prayer" (as taught by Rabbi Mordechai Finley).

Ilana's weaning ceremony expresses feelings of joy and loss.  (The link is to a PDF, contained within the  Ritual Well site.  If you have trouble with the pdf, you might try this link instead.  Note that only the pdf contains the Hebrew text.)

Religion and Gender 

The following three autobiographical essays are best read in the order they were written.  All three were published in  CJ: Voices of the Conservative/Masorti Movement. 

Why I Am a Conservative Jew describes Ilana's transition away from Orthodoxy (Published prominently in the inaugural issue of CJ).

Grabbing a Moment with God
describes Ilana's first experience donning tefillin.

Opening Doors
discusses the tensions within the Conservative community over the decision to welcome gays and lesbians as full members of the community.

Rescuing Genesis is a modern midrash (reinterpretation of a Biblical passage).

Forbidden and Permitted Relationships comments on the teshuvah (responsum or position paper) of Rabbis Dorff, Nevins and Reisner, which supported ordaining gay and lesbian Conservative Rabbis (Lilith magazine).

Educational Materials 

With support of the Raskin Endowment Fund of Congregation Kol Emeth of Palo Alto, Ilana developed a series of educational materials for children grades k - 2.

This Amidah synopsis works well for a weekly family service.  Before you begin the Amidah, ask for volunteers to read each line.  A grab bag of numbers helps avoid disputes over who gets which line.

An English Hoshanot is fun for the Sukkot holiday.

We made it a tradition to celebrate the end of the year with a graduation/Shavuot Torah service (includes parts for all the kids, plus a few parents).

A series of plays allows children who cannot yet read to act out the stories of the weekly Torah portion.   Below are two examples, email if you would like to use more of these plays.

Ilana can be reached at