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This one comes up so often - what about the position of women in traditional Judaism?

Here is the first thing to know:  IT'S NOT THE SAME OLD JUDAISM TODAY! 

Today I received the latest newsletter from the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education - an Orthodox organization that teaches, trains, inspires and engages Orthodox women in all the areas of learning that men engage in.  It's totally traditional and yet also totally EMPOWERING for women.  It's a lively organzation that grows by leaps and bounds as Orthodox women enthusiastically take up the challenge of Jewish studies on every level. 

And that is Orthodoxy - (where, by the way, there is a powerful and growing movement focused on feminism). 

The other branches of Judaism are of course widely egalitarian in every way. 

If Egalitarian is important to you as a woman, there are few obstacles to your participating fully in every area of Judaism - in the more modern branches of Judaism. 

If you are searching for a way to understand the traditional role of women in traditional Judaism there are ways to view this - to understand it and make peace with it. 

First of all it is important to understand that traditional Judaism carefully separates the roles of men and women.  The fact that they are separated in just about every aspect of life does not mean that women are demeaned.  This is a very narrow view through a very narrow lens. 

The women I have known in the VERY traditional branches of Judaism - the ultra Orthodox branches - are not at all demeaned - but their role is very separate.  They run their households like mini-CEO's - organizing large numbers of children who attend a number of different schools - are at different stages of religious participation - complex households that follow rigorously the laws of Kashrut. These women are not dainty, feint wallflowers by a long, long shot.  They're bright and strong and highly competent - as you have to be to operate as a mini-CEO of such large and complex "organizations."  

As their roles are CRUCIAL to the family and to the functioning of the entire community these women feel anything but irrelevant or unappreciated.  In fact, built into traditional Judaism are several rituals that ELEVATE women and emphasize their special value - from the traditional Friday night song: Aishes Chailles to the more recent tradition whereby men almost always arrive home on Friday afternoon with a bouquet of flowers in hand. 

It may not be your cup of tea but I can tell you that these women are by and large NOT unhappy - they do NOT feel demeaned.  Quite to the contrary, they feel IMPORTANT, because they are - and they feel RESPECTED, because they are - and they do NOT long to enter into the male arena with regard to the practice of the religion.  They accept the separation and are quite content with it. 

Because it's part of a system that really works.  Once you see this and understand this - you can stand back and say, ok, maybe it's not for me - but it's good for them - because their system is a good one. 

If you observe these very traditional families you will see that the children are beautifully cared for - they are given huge amounts of love and affection - while also, at the same time, plenty of discipline (so they're not brats - they're not spoiled) - the children are often incredibly sweet.  And you will see that the couples are largely quite happy with each other - believe it or not.  Of course not everyone - not 100% - but a very high percentage.  I've seen it with my own eyes and I've been impressed. 

It's also important to understand the centrality of these laws to the traditional community.  A man does not shake hands with any woman - EVEN HIS OWN WIFE! - because that is part of the law.  It is not about demeaning women - it is about elevating them (while keeping men and women separate - in their separate roles) and making the women very, very special. 

The more you study about this and understand it - the less you will MIS-UNDERSTAND it and mis-apply your own contemprary standards to something that is based on completely different notions than what we in the modern world operate with - perhaps not as happily!...

 Observe it for yourself and see if you don't agree....

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SHALOM! WELCOME! (HOME)  |  SPONSOR A KEHILLAH AD!  |  OUR MISSION - OUR PLAN  |  NON-DENOMINATIONAL?  |  THE DEVALUATION OF JUDAISM  |  SHOP KEHILLAH! BOUTIQUE  |  18 REASONS WHY IT'S GREAT TO BE JEWISH  |  18 WAYS TO DEEPEN YOUR JUDAISM  |  THE ONE JEWISH RITUAL FOR YOUR FAMILY...  |  WHAT'S SO GREAT ABOUT SHABBAT?  |  ADD A BIT OF SHABBAT TO YOUR LIFE - FRIDAY NIGHT  |  ADD A BIT OF SHABBAT TO YOUR LIFE - SATURDAY  |  WHAT'S SO GREAT ABOUT SYNAGOGUE?  |  WHAT'S SO GREAT ABOUT READING HEBREW?  |  WHAT'S SO GREAT ABOUT KEEPING KOSHER?  |  WHAT'S SO GREAT ABOUT JEWISH PRAYER?  |  WHAT'S SO GREAT ABOUT ISRAEL?  |  WHAT'S SO GREAT ABOUT MARRYING JEWISH?  |  WHAT'S SO GREAT ABOUT ORGANIZED RELIGION?  |  WHAT'S SO GREAT ABOUT "ANCIENT"...  |  WHAT'S SO GREAT ABOUT PRESERVING JUDAISM?  |  NOT A BELIEVER?  |  THINGS YOU LOVE ABOUT BEING JEWISH  |  YOUR OBJECTIONS - THINGS YOU HATE!  |  ARE YOU A SINGLE PARENT?  |  ARE YOU CREATIVE?  |  ARE YOU "MIXED?"  |  SMALL PLEASURES...  |  GOOD STORIES  |  THE "WOMAN" ISSUE  |  OUR BOLD RADICAL PROPOSAL...  |  ADVERTISE TO EDUCATE!  |  OUR PRO-JUDAISM AD CAMPAIGN  |  KEHILLAH RADIO & TV  |  THE MOST IMPORTANT THING FOR JUDAISM...  |  JEW VS. JEW  |  PASSOVER - ONE THING YOU CAN DO...  |  Shrek on Judaism!  |  Mel Brooks - On Being a Jew  |  Kirk Douglas: Why Be Jewish?  |  Rabbi Harold Kushner  |  Joe McCain on The Jews & Israel  |  American Presidents and The Jews  |  KEHILLAH is dedicated to...  |  LINKS TO Jewish Organizations, Charities & Websites  |  CONVERSION TO JUDAISM  |  GILLIE'S RECIPES  |  JEWISH HUMOR  |  NY TIMES: BRING BACK SHABBAT! PERSONAL STORY...  |  DO YOU HAVE INSOMNIA?  |  Contact Information  |  YOUR FEEDBACK PLEASE!  |  TO HELP SUPPORT KEHILLAH

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