Exhibit: Women Who Dared
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Hadassah Blocker
Pioneer of Conservative Jewish women's full participation in synagogue life

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What Else She Said

"[When I started out] the temple was not that happy with the women [I had taught]. Any time one of the women made a mistake it was blown up way out of proportion. I remember once one of the women flubbed completely, and she, poor kid, was really miserable about it. She was afraid she had done something terrible. I said, 'Look, if a man were to do that, no one would get excited. They'd be upset, but they'd never say that you ruined everything for the temple. Just relax, and you'll do it again, and you'll find out that you can do it.' And she's done it again, and done very well. If it were not for Rabbi Chiel they [the men] would have dumped me... Yes, there were unpleasant moments, sure. I'd walk into a room and get baleful gleams, but I'm tenacious. I believed it was important for women to be given this opportunity."

Another story demonstrates the resistance of the men to women as full participants in the congregation. "The person who was supposed to be doing the Haftarah reading at [a Sabbath service] didn't show up. So the usher, who was not in favor of women being involved, comes down the aisle to me, throws the Chumash at me, and says, 'Here, you do the Haftarah. The person that was going to be doing the Haftarah is not here, and none of the men will do it on a moment's notice.' I said to myself, 'I'll do it!' I said to him, 'Tell me which one it is and give me ten minutes.' And I did a perfect job! So I guess we made it. At that moment we knew that we were in!" According to Hadassah, it was a battle nationally as well, as the Women's League for Conservative Judaism discovered when it looked into programs to teach Torah reading to females in Conservative synagogues. The Women's League, like Hadassah, strongly believed that it is necessary to let the girls learn.

There was even some resistance from some of the women in the congregation. "A few women would say, 'You're doing this because you want to make a show out of it.' I said, 'No, I'm not. I'm doing this because I'd like families to be involved [in synagogue life], and when a mother is involved, the children will be involved. The children will learn.' The children were very proud of their mothers. For a woman in her fifties or sixties to start learning-this isn't easy. It isn't easy stuff. And they're wonderful! They're wonderful to this day!"


How to Cite This Page
For a bibliography: Jewish Women's Archive. "Jewish Women's Archive - Women Who Dared - Hadassah Blocker on CHALLENGES." <http://jwa.org/exhibits/wwd/jsp/fullAnswer.jsp>.

For a footnote: Jewish Women's Archive, "Jewish Women's Archive - Women Who Dared - Hadassah Blocker on CHALLENGES," <http://jwa.org/exhibits/wwd/jsp/fullAnswer.jsp>.