Research Areas

Women in the Bible; Biblical Midrash; Women’s Folklore; Coming-of-Age Rituals Cross-Culturally; Issues of Pre-teen Jewish Girls


M.S.W., Boston University School of Social Work

M.A., University of Pennsylvania

B.A., Oberlin College


Curriculum Vitae (pdf)

Penina Hannah Adelman

Penina Hannah Adelman

Penina Hannah Adelman

Penina Adelman, MA, MSW is a writer, psychotherapist and spiritual director. She is interested in the intersection of creative expression and spiritual quest. She has authored several books: Riding the Nightmare: Haunted by the Salem Witch Trials (co-authored with her mother, the historian Selma R. Williams), 1978; Miriam’s Well: Rituals for Jewish Women around the Year, 1986; The Bible from Alef to Tav (a Hebrew Bible based on the Hebrew letters for children and adults), 1998; The JGirl’s Guide: A Handbook for Young Jewish Women Coming of Age, 2005; Praise Her Works: Conversations with Biblical Women, 2005.

In her past tenure at the Women’s Studies Research Center she co-wrote The JGirl’s Guide with Ali Feldman and Shulamit Reinharz, a handbook for girls who are becoming bat mitzvah. As part of that project she also worked on forming bat mitzvah groups for girls and women to prepare for bat mitzvah. In addition, she wrote Praise Her Works which is based on a medieval Yemenite midrash on Proverbs 30:31, the “Woman of Valor” poem. Jewish texts and folklore provide much of the inspiration for her writing.

Penina Adelman received her B.A. from Oberlin College in 1975, her M.A. in Folklore and Folklife from the U. of Pennsylvania in 1981 and her M.S.W. from Boston University in 1985. She grew up in Lexington, MA and now lives in Newton, MA.

Current Projects

I am currently working on an fictionalized autobiography, focusing on my relationship with Lilith, the legendary first wife of Adam before Eve.

Representative Publications

Adelman, Penina, Ali Feldman, and Shulamit Reinharz. "The JGirl’s Guide: The Young Jewish Woman’s Handbook for Coming of Age." Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2005.

Adelman, Penina. "Praise Her Works: Conversations with Biblical Women." Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 2005.