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Jewesses with Attitude

Be happy, it's Adar!

Happy Adar, everyone. Get your costumes ready, give the groggers a preparatory whirl, and pre-heat your hamantashen-baking ovens, because Purim is coming! (Well, actually, not until next month, since this is a Jewish leap year, with two months of Adar).

In the meantime, I thought I'd call your attention to a new way to look at Queen Esther -- a teaching resource that compares her with feminist activist Bella Abzug. What could these two figures possibly have in common, you ask? Both Bella Abzug and Queen Esther were courageous women, involved in high stake political power struggles. Both women took a stand for the Jews. They each faced discrimination toward women. Each of them used their wits in threatening situations. And both women chose an appearance and personae that helped them to achieve their goals.

So check it out, and discuss: what lessons do these women teach us? How do women today hide their identities in order to fight for justice? When does our dress become a message of freedom and when does it distract people from hearing important messages? How do women of today alter their appearances to conform to society's image of femininity?

More on: Feminism, Purim,
1 Comment

You ask whether women's dress can sometimes be a distraction from their message. When I think of Esther, I remember the fact that when it came to appearance, she didn't hide anything at all about her femininity. That's what got her into the castle where she could influence the politics of the day. I imagine she wore some pretty awesome gowns and used her feminine powers to the best of her ability. No masks on that aspect of who she was at all. Today, I still see women hiding their feminine side behind a costume constructed of suits and masculinely tailored slacks and jackets. They still seem to think that to be heard and seen in the business world and the world of politics, they have to hide their real nature behind the clothes they wear. So, we must still believe that the fact that we are women distracts from our message. I, personally, choose to go the very feminine route. I wear long, flowly skirts and pretty blouses and lots of jewelry and dangly earings. I still think I get heard. And, you know what? I also get noticed.

How to cite this page

Rosenbaum, Judith. "Be happy, it's Adar!." 8 February 2008. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on May 29, 2017) <https://jwa.org/blog/estherandbella>.

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