American Civic Life

How Some ‘Jewitches’ are Embracing Both Judaism and Witchcraft

October 26, 2021

(RNS) — In a scene from a recently released movie, three older women in a small room slowly walk clockwise around a table covered in candles, chanting curses softly.

A scene from the latest “Macbeth” remake? Not exactly: It’s a moment from indie film ” A Kaddish for Bernie Madoff,” a musical exploration of spirituality, Jewish identity and the Bernie Madoff case.

Its creator, Alicia Jo Rabins, identifies as a Jewish artist and educator who incorporates elements of witchcraft into her practice of Judaism, an increasingly common, if still controversial, combination.

In both the modern witchcraft and Jewish communities, people are bringing together magic — often called witchcraft — and religious ritual. The ways in which these two seemingly distinct practices merge is often highly personal, depending on heritage, education and spiritual calling.

“The kinds of witchcraft that I practice draw on my training in Jewish ritual,” said Rabins, who holds the Torah in a scene, below, in the Madoff film. “I don’t see it as opposed to it, but as building on it.”

A scene from the film “A Kaddish for Bernie Madoff.

A scene from the film “A Kaddish for Bernie Madoff.” (Courtesy Photo)