Introducing guestblogger Shira Engel
You may have noticed a few new voices on Jewesses with Attitude. Meet Shira Engel, one of our newest guestbloggers!
Hi! I’m Shira Engel and I started guest-posting on Jewesses with Attitude a few weeks ago and I am so thrilled to access all sorts of Jewish women – feminist, young, old, savvy – through this innovative medium.
I’m a born-and-bred New Yorker and high school senior who actually takes advantage of all the feminist goodness my city has to offer. If not for living in Manhattan, I’m actually unsure of whether or not I would label myself as a feminist today, seeing as for me, the community is what strengthens all my ideologies. As for Judaism, I would have probably embraced it sooner had I lived somewhere where Judaism was not as strong or thriving; growing up, I did not choose my Judaism – I was thrust into it through sitting through high holy day services in a language I could not comprehend and forced to go to Hebrew School while many of my friends were having extended recess. But how my actual experience with Judaism and feminism turned out really isn’t so bad. Actually, it’s pretty amazing because through my struggles with both, I have formed intersections between the two that have made my interests more cohesive than I could have ever imagined.
My passion for feminism seemed to spike when my willingness to have a Jewish identity faltered. I was always searching for something to believe in and it was a whole lot easier to believe in the feminist literature of my cyber-centric generation than the monotonous mumblings in a foreign tongue where the only names referred to were those of patriarchs. That began four years of dropping out of Hebrew School, ending all ties with religion, and vigorously writing for and checking out the feminist blogosphere. I thought feminism and Judaism were mutually exclusive. I did not realize that I needed one to truly value the other until this past summer in Israel on a Bronfman Youth Fellowship.
In Israel, I was given a plethora of religious experiences to choose from; no longer was I forced into the Conservative Judaism bubble of my parents and grandparents. I learned that Judaism, like feminism, is about choice and the ability to choose. Feminism tells me that I am a stronger woman if I choose the paths my life will take. Judaism, for the first time, could be a part of that.
The rest is a recent history of discovering the power of intersectional focus. I came home, found a Renewal synagogue that incorporates feminist teachings, started from the rib? so that I could learn more through the accountability of posting, and am now working on a senior project where I am interviewing Jewesses with some serious attitude in New York City on what they think of feminism in relation to Judaism.
Jewesses with Attitude is inspirational. It is everything my Hebrew School drop-out self could have wanted to see of her religion. I am incredibly excited to contribute my perspective to this (dare I say it?) seder plate of ideas and concepts that make me so proud to be a Jewish woman!