Abigail (Abby) Fisher is a sophomore at the Abraham Joshua Heschel High School. She is passionate about journalism, poetry, and social justice. She writes for the school newspaper, and participates in the poetry club, debate team, and the women's empowerment club (GirlUp). In her free time she enjoys being in musicals at the Riverdale Y with the Riverdale Rising Stars.
Stephanie grew up going to a single-sex Orthodox day school and later went to Stern College for Women, a partner with Yeshiva College. But knowing her today, you’d never be able to tell. Since then Stephanie has exploded into a Jewish feminist badass, and yet a lot remains the same.
“Torah Judaism does not support abortion, Torah Judaism does not support same-sex marriage,” right-wing pundit Ben Shapiro explained with a confident smirk to a cheering audience of Yeshiva University students. I expect it’s a lot easier to blindly subscribe to one binary view on what is seen as one of the most enigmatic documents in existence, rather than to actively engage with this foundational text, and question its claims.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled to make the Torah meaningful to me. In first grade, the boys in my class had already found strong and charismatic role models in Moses, Aaron, Abraham, and countless others. I, and the other girls in my class, were left to search for leaders in soft-spoken and often overlooked sisters and mothers.
In the late forties and early fifties, a time when many refused to listen to female voices, Polier made her voice heard. She was published in various legal journals and other opinion pieces, and never filtered her views so that others could digest them more easily. She didn’t mince words or walk on eggshells to sound more feminine. Her writing was unadulterated social criticism.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve butted heads with Orthodox men. There was the time in third grade when I volunteered to sing the Torah trope, but was discouraged by a boy in my class who said that “girls don’t actually read Torah at their bat mitzvahs.” In other words, why bother? Then in sixth grade, when all I wanted was to learn advanced Talmud, I was met with a discrediting, “okay, Abigail, okay. We’ll see.”
I had fallen so deeply in love with Jewish text study that I neglected to see the many ways in which I was not represented in those texts. The tension became clear: How could I honor a tradition that did not make space for me as a female?
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Abigail Fisher." (Viewed on May 26, 2017) <https://jwa.org/blog/author/abigail-fisher>.