Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Our first in-person concert since February 2020: Josh & Coleen!

I've been so busy posting serious stuff that I forgot to post about the fun we had last Sunday--we saw Rabbi Josh Warshawsky and his frequent songwriting partner, Coleen Dieker!  And I'm so out of practice posting about concerts that I didn't even think to take any photos or shoot a short video.  Besides, we were too busy singing along and dancing in the aisle.  :)  Here's the song that got us dancing!  I strong encourage you to watch the other videos on Rav Josh's website, and go back to his website in a couple of days to see more--I think the videos from his latest album will be posted on March 31 or shortly thereafter.

Monday, March 28, 2022

The Jewish Case for Abortion Justice

Important reading, in my opinion:  Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg's "The Torah of Reproductive Freedom: The Jewish Case for Abortion Justice"

Friday, March 25, 2022

Oklahoma's new abortion ban

See this CNN article.

As I said in my "abortion-rights abolition quest" post almost three years ago, "In all countries, it doesn't matter how long ago you gained your rights--the "ruling" male class can always take them away, or so constrict them by passing subsequent laws that, for all practical purposes, they no longer exist."  😡

If you agree that women are humans beings and have a right to control our own bodies and make our own choices, I suggest that you vote with your wallet at Planned Parenthood, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and/or NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Conflicted about a kippah :)

I'm half-tempted to buy this beauty, but I'm suffering from a case of "fear of false advertising"--after all, I'm a woman married to a man.   :)

Friday, March 18, 2022

Pioneer: My life as a Second-Wave Jewish Feminist

Definition:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second-wave_feminism

I wasn’t thinking in halachic terms (in terms of Jewish religious law) at the time, but it made sense to me that, in a synagogue where women had equal rights, we should also have equal responsibilities, such as wearing a tallit .  It didn’t make any sense to me that the only female ever to wear a tallit at the SAJ, which hosted the first Bat Mitzvah celebration in the U.S. and may be the first then-Conservative synagogue to have become egalitarian, was a girl celebrating becoming a Bat Mitzvah.  So I decided to start wearing a tallit.  People there may have been startled, but no one was particularly offended.  Then I persuaded some of the women from the SAJ’s Women’s Consciousness-Raising Group to begin wearing tallitot.  Then I persuaded my oldest friend to begin wearing a tallit, which was really cool.  😊

Then we moved.

I wasn’t thinking in halachic terms at the time, but it just didn’t make any sense to me to stop wearing a tallit after I’d been wearing one for over a decade.  But I figured that it might not go over so well if I borrowed one of the synagogue's tallitot at a Conservative synagogue (in the 1980s), so I brought my own tallit to our new shul, and scandalized the entire congregation. 

To their credit, no one at our new (and now) synagogue ever asked me to take off my tallit.  But I certainly got stared at a lot, in the beginning.  Eventually, they got used to me, but I stood out like a sore thumb . . . for something like 25 years.  I was almost always the only woman at any service there who was wearing a tallit.  Later, as our son got old enough to be left alone at home, I began attending morning minyan occasionally, so I started wearing tefillin there, as well.  One of the old guys even tried to help me figure out how to put them on as a lefty.

I caught a lot of flack for insisting on leading Ashrei from the bimah instead of in front of the bimah, once women were finally authorized to lead Ashrei, which was a big deal for this synagogue.  Interestingly enough, it was mostly the women who protested, quite audibly, “There she goes, up on the bimah again.”  My husband said that the older woman may have taken my Jewish feminism as an insult to the way they were raised, as if the traditional Jewish role for women was not good enough.

Eventually, as the congregation shrank and moved to a smaller building, the decision was made to start counting women in a minyan.  I can’t even take credit for that change—we just ran out of men.  But I can take credit for having persuaded the Ritual Committee that what we were doing had no halachic justification.  “You can’t say that we have a minyan but that we don’t have enough people for a Torah reading.  From a purely halachic point of view, once you have a minyan, you automatically have enough people for a Torah reading.”  It was based on my argument that our synagogue finally became egalitarian.

I was so excited, heading to the shul on the Shabbat (Sabbath) morning after that vote and looking forward to being the first woman to have an aliyah on any day other than Simchat Torah (which we’d been “cheating on” for years).  But when we walked into the lobby, H.D. , who’s old enough to be my mother, was already there, as usual.  So I did the only right thing—without even clearing it with my husband, who was the Ritual Committee Chair and almost always gave out the aliyot, I walked over to H.D. and offered her Shlishi, the third aliyah.  (We still give the first aliyah to a Cohen and the second one to a Levi.)  I can’t even remember which aliyah I had that day.  😊  But it was cool that the other congregants insisted that any woman having an aliyah must wear a tallit.  And the best part was that our first Olah bought herself her first tallit a couple of months after that aliyah—she was in her eighties, at the time.  😊 

So that’s a good part of my legacy—I persuaded a number of women to begin wearing tallitot and I persuaded a traditional Conservative synagogue to become egalitarian.  No one will remember any of this, a hundred years from now, but I’m proud of being a Jewish feminist pioneer, and/or, as I've often called myself, an "inside agitator."

Friday, March 11, 2022

A few thoughts about "People Love Dead Jews: Reports from a Haunted Present," by Dara Horn

 I wouldn't dignify this by calling it a book review, but here are a few reactions of mine to Dara Horn's ""People Love Dead Jews: Reports from a Haunted Present" that I posted on Goodreads:

Dara Horn asked why people couldn't find the words to say after the attack on Pittsburgh's Tree of Live synagogue when the words can be found all over the Jewish prayer-book. She also asked why only anti-Semitic attacks had to be "contextualized"--sure, there's some controversy about school boards in some parts of New York State, but political disputes are not usually addressed by attacking people perceived as political opponents with a machete, as happened at a rabbi's Chanukah party in Monsey. She also wanted to know why "Jewish heritage" sites conveniently neglect to mention why there are few or no Jews left in the site. ("Anti-Semitic discrimination and/or attacks? Who, us?") She also posited that Jews changing their family names to something less obviously Jewish never cited American anti-Semitism as the reason because Jews who'd fled from anti-Semitism couldn't admit that the same scourge existed in the U.S. And then there was her son, who insisted on listening to an audio presentation of the Merchant of Venice and declared that the "hath not a Jew eyes" speech was a classic super-villain speech and that anyone who believed that it humanized Shylock was a victim of gaslighting--Shakespeare was an anti-Semite. Ouch to all of the above.

Tuesday, March 08, 2022

"What we're seeing there is the Ten Plagues"

"They have a Pharaoh whose heart is so hardened that he can't think straight."

That's my husband's view of Russia as it's increasingly isolated financially because of Putin's insistence on invading Ukraine.

My husband is only an "acting rabbi," but, in this case, he's not acting.  😢 

We pray for the people and government of Ukraine, and also for the Russian people who are being deceived into supporting a war that even their own soldiers don't want.  😢

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