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Judaism-Orthodox

Facts Sometimes Have Feelings

“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. 

Can I Ask You Something?

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.” 

Binding My Religious and Feminist Identities Together

I started wearing tefillin at camp. I was fourteen and I had a lot of ideas about overthrowing patriarchal Judaism, and I thought it looked cool. Tefillin are traditionally worn only by Jewish men who have reached bar mitzvah age (thirteen), although Conservative and Reform Judaism, some of the more liberal sects of Judaism, are very accepting of women wrapping as well. 

Decompartmentalizing Jewish and Feminist Identity

In continuing with the Jewish Women’s Archive’s goal of elevating the voices and sharing the stories of Jewish women, I decided to interview and profile Yael Marans, a childhood friend and overall mensch. 

Finding My Place

When the second half of 8th grade arrived, I was faced with what my 13-year old self believed was the most important decision I would ever have to make in my entire life. I had to choose a youth group to join. Even though Denver has fewer options than most cities, I was still overwhelmed by my choices. 

Come, Join Us

I remember my excitement upon hearing about Yeshivat Maharat’s  ordination of women. As a supporter of female Jewish leadership in all of its forms, I was thrilled at the idea. Evidently, Jessica Cavanagh-Melhado, a contributor to JWA’s blog, felt the same way. In June 2013, she wrote a piece entitled, We Begin to Become a Multitude. In the piece, she describes her experience attending the first ever ordination of women as open Orthodox female spiritual leaders. 

Orthodox Feminism

A lot of people leave Orthodoxy because of the sexism. Honestly, it’s really hard to stay. Being a teenager with friends who are all forming their identities, I struggle with this a lot. Many of my friends are leaving the movement because they are tired of tirelessly fighting, enduring, and never being equal. 

Holy Glass Ceiling

On June 13th, 2013, three women graduated from the Yeshivat Maharat and were ordained with the title of maharat, or female spiritual leader. Even then, the Rabbinic Counsel of America (RCA) refused to recognize these women as part of the Orthodox Rabbinate. This is a two steps forward, one step back situation. 

Pop(e)ular

Religious leaders aren’t normally considered cool by teenagers, but Pope Francis is most definitely an exception. As a teenager myself, I can say that the Catholic Church was not at all on my radar until he started making waves. 

Lila Kagedan

The first Orthodox woman to claim the title of Rabbi, Lila Kagedan has worked to make Jewish learning accessible to all.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Judaism-Orthodox." (Viewed on February 25, 2017) <https://jwa.org/topics/judaism-orthodox>.

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