Rabbi Cherina's Offerings
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Here's the evolution of Hot Pink Torah and why I created it.
Hot Pink Torah began as a desire to create a space for you to discover the beauty and wisdom of Judaism that fully supported you, without having to sacrifice a part of yourself to fit in.
Too often in religion, I find women are told how to be, what to believe, and what is “proper”. Times are changing and what it means to be a woman is shifting thanks to egalitarianism and feminism. However, while there is power and purpose to social movements for women’s rights, a crucial aspect is often ignored – cultivating the magnificent and unique woman inside of you.
We spend countless hours on our appearance, train our minds to be swift and our bodies to be strong, but how often do you look inside and ask yourselves who you really are?
As a child, I had a natural sense of what was holy and sacred. It never occurred to me to doubt my experiences. I spoke to invisible beings (an imaginary friend, trees, nature) as if they were my Divine companions.
I was connected to pleasure, an unending ocean. The pulse of life. Energy.
Perhaps you can relate....remembering the giddy joy of running around and playing with toys, curious about everything and excited to learn and discover.
As I grew up, I assumed that religion would deepen this innate resonance within me.
Wasn’t it a set of spiritual teachings, rituals, and prayers that served to bring out the best in me?
Like many of you, as I became a teenager and young adult, I started to doubt who I was. I felt like I didn’t belong and struggled to find my footing. While I found some solace in music and dance, I looked to Judaism to give me the courage and insight to feel confident in myself.
But instead, I found a list of rules to follow, ways to act, and rituals to uphold. I felt guilt and shame accompanying those expectations, never feeling like I was good enough. I felt afraid that I wouldn't be forgiven on Yom Kippur. I disliked praying with someone else's words. Mostly, I felt restricted by Judaism, wishing it had room for me to be me within it.
It had its sweet moments: the smells of Challah, the joy of singing around a Shabbat table, and wearing the extra special dress to Rosh Hashana dinner that my grandmother bought me. I loved the idea I was once told that somehow a spark of the Divine was within me.
But these were not enough to sustain me.
I longed for a different type of Judaism, one that spoke to my daily desires to feel connected, aligned, and on purpose. I wanted religion to be a support, an encouragement, a celebration that spoke to me as a modern woman. I desired empowerment and confidence and a religion that showed me how to access the deep Divine wisdom within my physical body I felt so naturally as a child.
I wouldn’t give up. I struggled through college and graduate school, trying things that weren’t “Jewish” to see if they could open my eyes. I became an energy healer, took up belly dance and salsa, and became a holistic chef. They were all very enjoyable, but something was still missing. I wanted to find my way back to Judaism, even if I wasn’t sure if it had what I was looking for.
So, I became a rabbi in hopes of discovering those parts of Judaism that I assumed must exist that address what it meant to be a modern woman. Sadly, it was not part of the curriculum.
I guess if I were truly honest with myself, I was not surprised.
Growing up, I wished for a rabbi I could look up to and ask the questions of my heart and soul. “What does it mean to be a woman in the world?” “Why do I love pleasurable things that are not valued in the world?” “Is there something wrong with me?” “Why do I feel like I don’t belong?” “Can we talk about God? I don’t like the idea of a man in the sky.”
I yearned for a rabbi to ask the questions of my heart and soul, but I did not have one.
I realize it wasn’t their fault. They were not taught how to answer these questions, or that these questions needed voicing.
The rabbis I grew up with were mostly kind men who loved how bright and capable I was. I never felt comfortable talking to them about this.
So, in rabbinical school, I decided to imagine what this fictional rabbi would be like.
Maybe, if I could find her in my dreams, I could discover her in reality.
I dreamed up a woman who seemed like a Jewish fairy-godmother. She knew me inside-and-out and I could trust her advice implicitly. She was a Divine feminine presence who dressed up in whatever she pleased without thinking of who might comment. She had the sheer joy of living, and loved, veraciously and fully, giving into the pleasures of life. In my imagination, she was French, and we would meet daily in a Parisian café drinking hot chocolate and eating pastries, savoring each delectable bite. Just being around her made me feel more alive. She saw the real me beyond the masks I wore to get through the day. She took me out of my comfort zone with such fun that I only noticed it after the fact and couldn’t help but smile at my accomplishments.
Overtime, she taught me secrets: how to flirt with life (not fight it), to play with energy, feel pleasure in my body, desire freely, and practice the art of le joie de vivre.
She introduced me to workshops and books that taught me about the beauty of the masculine and feminine energies we possess, from physiology to cultural norms. She taught me practical wisdom that ignited my curiosity and became staples in my daily life.
I suddenly started to see prooftexts and deep teachings within Judaism for all I was learning that no one had ever pointed out to me before, in all my years of study.
She was my trusted teacher, but constantly asked me to look within myself to discover all I wanted to know.
Overtime she became as real to me as anyone else.
One day, as if watching a scene from a movie, she presented me with a gift.
A beautiful necklace adorned with sparkling gems.
“In the depths of the earth, gems are created. You must dig for them, but they are worth it. Each one on this necklace is inscribed with Jewish wisdom I have taught you. These are your sacred powers. Wear them and, when you need a reminder of who you truly are, touch the gems to activate your Divine Self. You have all you need now.”
And she left.
I stood there, in my imagination, puzzled. How could she leave me? Who would I talk to for advice? Where would I find another such an amazing teacher?
And then I felt something.
I felt her, but she was no longer outside of me.
She was part of me.
She was the best part of me.
She had been me all along.
This is what I want for you.
To have access to the wisdom of your truth.
To know the tools to activate your life with magic.
To find comfort, joy, and empowerment your Spirit and within the beauty of Jewish gems so you too can wear this necklace that reminds you of the Divine within you.
I couldn’t find a Judaism that felt like home, so I created it.
I couldn’t find a rabbi to talk to, so I became her.
If I can spare you even a moment of pain and longing for what you desire by sharing what I have learned, it will be all worth it.
Here is a new type of Torah, one that emphasizes embodiment, inner knowing and modern realities. It is not something you can simply think about. It has to be integrated through the body because it focuses on the revelation of you…your uniqueness, your Divine gifts, your sacred essence.
And so it Hot Pink Torah emerged.
At first, I used these teachings and practices on myself, wondering what would happen with my spirituality and daily sense of presence, contentment, and ability to weather stress and challenges.
Next, I brought these teachings to friends and strangers, who quickly lapped up Hot Pink Torah and found immediate and ongoing positive results. As one woman described it, it was the catalyst for her spiritual awakening, reconnection to Judaism, and overall improvement to her life. Others spoke of feeling more confident and empowered, able to speak their truth for the first time in years and loving their bodies with a new sense of pleasure.
Seeing a radiant, empowered woman who knows who she is lights up any room.
She is the woman we like being around. She inspires us.
Her energy and presence makes us feel hopeful.
We want to be that woman.
And we can.
It’s just that we have not been taught how.
For millennia, we focused on the outside world and its needs without knowing and honoring our own. We forgot who we are; we lost the lineage of women’s wisdom.
Now is the time to look inside and discover the brilliance of being a woman.
Hot Pink Torah is here to guide you on that sacred journey of self-discovery so you can lead your life with authenticity, confidence, and purpose.
This is my gift to you.
Enjoy it for all it is worth because you are worth it!