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Jewish neopaganism in the United States
In the United States, the notion of historical Israelite or Jewish polytheism has been popularized in the 1960s by Raphael Patai in The Hebrew Goddess, focusing on the cult of female goddesses such as the cult of Asherah in the Solomon's Temple.
Forms of Witchcraft religions inspired by the Semitic milieu, such as Jewitchery, may also be enclosed within the Semitic Neopagan movement. These Witchcraft groups are particularly influenced by Jewish feminism, focusing on the goddess cults of the Israelites.
The most notable contemporary Levantine Neopagan group is known as Am Ha Aretz (עם הארץ, lit. "People of the Land", a rabbinical term for uneducated and religiously unobservant Jews), "AmHA" for short, based in Israel. This group grew out of Ohavei Falcha, "Lovers of the Soil", a movement founded in the late 19th century.
Elie Sheva, according to her own testimony an "elected leader of AmHA" reportedly founded an American branch of the group, known as "Primitive Hebrew Assembly".
Beit Asherah ("House of the Goddess Asherah"), was one of the first Jewish Neopagan groups, founded in the early 1990s by Stephanie Fox, Steven Posch, and Magenta Griffiths. Magenta Griffiths is High Priestess of the Beit Asherah coven, and a former board member of the Covenant of the Goddess.
One of the most recent forms of neopaganism run by Jews is the Kohenet Institute, based at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Connecticut. It offers a three-year course of study to women who are then ordained as Jewish pagan priestesses. "Kohenet" is a feminine variation on "kohan", meaning priest. The Kohenet Institute's training involves earth-based spiritual practices that they believe harken back to pre–rabbinic Judaism; a time when, according to Kohenet’s founders, women took on many more (and much more powerful) spiritual leadership roles than are commonly taken by women today. A Jewish priestess may, according to Kohenet, act as a rabbi, but the two roles are not the same. Their adherents offer prayers to Anat, Asherah, Lilith, and other deities. They are even now quoted, in an approving light, by pagan and witchcraft groups.
In the Levant
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- Jennifer Hunter, Magickal Judaism: Connecting Pagan and Jewish Practice. Citadel Press Books, Kensington Publishing Corp., New York, New York, 2006, pp. 18–19.
- Interview with Elie in Being a Pagan: Druids, Wiccans, and Witches Today, by Ellen Evert Hopman and Lawrence Bond (2001), p. 105.
- Witchvox article on Jewish Pagan organizations
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- Covenant of the Goddess (Official website)
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- Engelberg, Keren (October 30, 2003). "When Witches Blend Torah and Tarot" reprinted in The Jewish Journal (July 21, 2008)
- Hunter, Jennifer (July 1, 2006). Magickal Judaism: Connecting Pagan & Jewish Practice. Citadel. ISBN 0-8065-2576-2, ISBN 978-0-8065-2576-1.
- Jacobs, Jill Suzanne. "Nice Jewitch Girls Leave Their Brooms in the Closet" in The Forward, Oct 31, 2003
- Michaelson, Jay (December 0, 2005). "Jewish Paganism: Oxymoron or Innovation?" in The Jewish Daily Forward.
- Raphael, Melissa (April 1998). "Goddess Religion, Postmodern Jewish Feminism, and the Complexity of Alternative Religious Identities". Nova Religio, Vol. 1, No. 2, Pages 198–215 (abstract can be found at: Caliber: University of California Press)
- Various authors. "Jewish Paganism" in Green Egg, Winter 1994 (Volume 27, #107).
- Winkler, Rabbi Gershon (January 10, 2003). Magic of the Ordinary: Recovering the Shamanic in Judaism. North Atlantic Books. ISBN 1-55643-444-8, ISBN 978-1-55643-444-0.
- Aleph Temple
- Primitive Hebrew Assembly (Am Ha Aretz USA)
- Tel Shemesh
- Peeling a Pomegranate
- Qadash Kinahnu