The hijacking of Judaism: victims and consequences

Shoshanna Jaskoll writes a beautiful, heartfelt, impassioned lament and alarm for the destruction of what was once a wide spectrum of thought and observance within what was Orthodox Judaism. (If you think angry laments  that cry for justice are beautiful, which I do).

I have been spat on and called a whore myself

I have stood beside a friend as she fought to be freed from a man she has not seen in years- her fate controlled by men she does not know

I have witnessed men telling women how they must dress

I have seen women telling other women how they must dress

I have seen women’s and girls’ faces blurred from magazines and ads

I have watched as females are completely removed from public signage

I have watched as women & girls were relegated to the back of the bus

I have heard from women being attacked for being where men didn’t want them to be

I have seen women arrested and jailed for wearing a tallit

I have seen women unable to accept awards for their own work in public

I have seen women banned from presenting their own research at a conference on fertility. (The rest is here )

This fundamentalist movement  is pushing out more and more of ‘Modern” Orthodox Jews, who do not want to subjugate women.

I would say  answer is to push back and be strong, to say “No – I will not follow any of the rulings of rabbis who treat women this way. I will not accept their Beit Din as valid. My sons and husband will not study at yishivot or schools or attend any shiuim where people who treat women this way are accepted. None of my tzedakah go to any institution who does not publicly come out against this. ” But I do not think this will happen. As the men won’t really go along with it.

The crux of the problem, for me, is that you will never be completely safe from this subjugation of women when your view of religion gives the decision-making power to men.

She writes at the end:

the Ladies, demand your rights. Men, be right there with us.

Those with power, elect Rabbanim and Dayanim that have true Torah knowledge, broad shoulders, humility, and respect.

Those with power in that list Rabbanim and Dayaim are exclusively men (or if we are giving leeway for the far left of the Orthodox spectrum, wildly predominately men) .

and THAT, fundamentally, is the problem.

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4 Responses to The hijacking of Judaism: victims and consequences

  1. Mark Matchen says:

    I am not at all convinced that Orthodox Judaism is salvageable. It may be that there will be a splinter group that joins with the right wing of the conservative movement. The mechitza will be their big problem to reconcile. I feel sorry for these women and for all those on the left of Orthodoxy who are pushing at its edges. They are making one big mistake. They have a sense of universal truth to which they want Orthodox Judaism to conform. But Orthodox Judaism knows no truth external to itself. Eventually, they will have to leave, justify the oppression, or live with the discomfort.

  2. Sang Logan says:

    The only people who don’t see that as denigrating are those who aren’t being segregated out for worse treatment. This is the same attitude that lies behind the efforts in Saudi Arabia to remove women from the public sphere because their presence “tempts” men. The men who don’t suffer negative consequences don’t see the problem.

  3. which begs the question why there are virtually no Sephardi/Mizrahi women amongst the reform nor amongst those morden orthodox who may be applauding this disruptive behaviour?

  4. Virgil Burns says:

    Although Greenberg views niddah and mikveh as important mitzvoth which greatly benefit women, do women become less powerful once they reach menopause? After menopause women no longer visit the mikveh and therefore lose their monthly ritualized rejuvenation. Rituals of abstinence disappear between husband and wife. If the mikveh rejuvenates sexual relations between them, the loss of the ritual could, in theory, change sexual relations between partners. Greenberg also questions this by saying “One must wonder whether a woman who has faithfully observed mikveh throughout her life feels a heightened sense of loss at menopause” (Greenberg, 119). In a sense, women’s marginality gave them a sense of power by following the purity ritual. Once women reach menopause they are no longer “dangerous” to men and would therefore lose power according to Douglas’ theory.

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