Archive for April, 2013

‘ “My daughters, My daughters, why do you deny My kingship?”
The women reply [to G-d]: “Our brothers, our leaders, have so instructed us.” ‘

-On Women and Judaism, p. 78.

Having a daughter really changed my perspective on life. Considering that I’ve been a woman all my life, it’s ironic that only when I have a daughter I really look around at where women are and what they can have. And I am not happy.

Judaism is only one of these areas. Not necessarily because G-d decreed so; mostly because we had over 2000 years of male Rabbis deciding what is good for women. To be fair, these Rabbis didn’t live in a vacuum and they took their cues from the surrounding social structure, which wasn’t equal for women. But now these directives they issued are like law. Changing the law, especially when you don’t have any right to complain about it according to the same law, is never an easy process. Women in Judaism have almost no religious obligations, are left out of communal prayer, cannot bear witness, have no Jewish ceremony for any part of their life (celebration of Bat-Mitzvah is relatively new, as is the celebration of a girl’s birth. Both these ceremonies are not religious, more of a party). And don’t get me started on the marriage laws.

That makes me furious. I was mildly religious before I married. I became more religious afterwards, and the idea that by doing so I did an injustice towards my daughter makes me see red.

So I started my journey towards greater understanding. There is JOFA, and the Kolech organization of orthodox Jewish women, which are very helpful in increasing knowledge and awareness, as well as offering possibilities of action. I’m going to a more egalitarian synagogue now, and I’m going more regularly. I have started praying every day (this is actually one of the few obligations of Jewish women, but it’s played down and not all women consider it necessary). And I read “On Women and Judaism“.

This is rightly considered a classic on orthodox feminism. This was, to my surprise, published in 1981 (when I was a year old). That fact alone made me feel better. Not only is it known there is a problem, but it was known 30 years ago, and the seeds of change started already then. The explanations are clear and touching, the spiritual journey of the author poignant. In many places it had me nodding as she expressed exactly my anger and sense of injustice. And though many of her suggestions for improvement have not yet been implemented or even addressed, many have been. It allowed me to see the entire process, and granted me the understanding that change takes time.

I have taken some of her suggestions for my own, and I am going to work to make the other changes happen. This book gave me hope. I am not alone in this feeling and this is not the end of the process of change.

Thank you.

If you are Jewish and/or interested in feminism and religion: 5 stars.


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