I think I want to change my title. I go back and forth between Rabbi and Rabba, but I know in my heart I want to be rabbi. I just assumed that politically it is easier for others for me to be Rabba, but I do like Rabbi much better, at least in the US. As I am teaching less, and doing hospital stuff more, it seems like the right choice.
There were also new women ordained this year, and some of them are now going by Rabbi, and so I won’t be alone in my choice.
It was approximately a year ago (give or take a few days) that I received my signed klaf and I became a Rabbi.
It has been a year with a lot of change – but unlike the past three years, these were personal changes rather than physical changes. I feel so separate from that place that I was in, while at the same time, I can remember exactly what it was like to stand there as the rabbis signed this parchment with my name on it. How it was at that moment I felt all my breath leave me in disbelief that such a thing was really happening. That the day of the signing was more intense for me than the day of the test.
Women & Power
This past week I was on a panel to discuss women and power. I think that the phone conversation we had in private was more interesting than what we said in public. It was clear that there was an intention when we got onto the stage, and even more clear that there is a lot riding on what we say and how we say it.
It was an event to promote our rabbinical school, and so it would not have been appropriate to actually discuss the difficulties that we face, although I do think that would have been more fruitful. It would not have been ok to answer honestly about the struggles that we feel and felt, in our past internships, jobs, and even in our education. We were sitting on the stage to inspire people. To have them believe what we are doing can change the world – and is changing the world. We had to show them, that yes there are difficulties that we are facing, but we are doing ok, we are not breaking, we are not crying, we are not questioning if we made the right choice.
I learned in this panel, that with my job, I am actually in an interesting position to just speak my mind. The hospital doesn’t really care so much what I say, especially within the Jewish world. I can speak up and share my anger, frustration and disgust without fear of getting fired or worse. I can voice that I think the Jewish world is doing a disservice, without being shunned (and honestly, I already feel that, so it can’t be worse).
One of the things that I was most upset about, it was not answered – was I was asked to write an article. I wrote it. It was edited, which in general means just for grammar, and I am very thankful for someone to do that. But instead, it was cut and changed. It was not written in my voice. And when I said something, I was completely ignored. There was nothing I could do about it. I am angry that someone thought they had the right to change my words that much. If they wanted it to be shorter they could have told me. If they didn’t like my message, that also could have been said. But it was ok – because well, she too was a woman, and how could a woman take away another woman’s power.
People liked that article a lot, and I am happy about that. I will smile and nod when someone will bring it up, but it is not my words. To make it worse, is that she actually completely erased my words. She didn’t make a new document, or ask for my opinion on the changes, they are just gone.
So with women and power – I think that we do have power. We can have power. We have a lot to say, and I should say things more. But there is always going to be that little political voice in the background, holding us back, shutting us up, making us look and act in a certain way – so that we do our jobs, but with as few waves as possible.
A good friend of mine is desperately trying to find a guy to touch her. There is a part of me that is worried about her, and I have told her. She comes from a community where she was told that men and women don’t touch, and if they do they are sinning. She also thought she would be married by now (she is 27). She is slowly having open conversations with men from Jewish dating sites, and talking about what she is willing to do and not willing to do. And talks about the shame and awkwardness of telling someone, well, no I have not yet had sex, I don’t think I want to have sex with you right now.
I know I have shame around the fact that I have not had sex. That i am pretty inexperienced when it comes to anything sexual. Just last night I was talking to a guy on OK Cupid. When he found out I was a Jewish chaplain, his first question was “so does that mean no touching men and no sex?” I was annoyed at the question, but at the same time, the question makes sense. He wants to know what he is getting involved in – and if all he wants is to have a random hookup, I will not be the right person. I told him I touch men, and he then asked about sex, and I said no.
I don’t know if I mean no forever, but I do know that I mean no until we are in a relationship. But I am embarrassed by this. I am 32 years old, if I am not dating, I might as well have sex, or at least be open to it – it might make internet dating more open for me.
I realized how much I dread that conversation. I dread having to tell someone that I have no idea what I am doing. I am afraid that he will think less of me or think that I have some problem or think that I am some really sad case.
And at the same time as wanting this – there is a voice that says, well, you are a rabbi, you can’t have it even if you want it. When I went out with friends on Wednesday night, we were talking about men asking about sex on dating apps. Y said, that it was a gross idea if a guy asked for sex if he knows you are a rabbi, of course you are going to say no, and he just has a weird fetish. I answered, that well, actually I would love someone to have that assumption, and maybe there are things I am willing to do, even though I am a rabbi. To this answer I was just glared at, as if I said something heretical (which I guess it was). But I do think that Judaism needs to discuss this issue. We can’t pretend that it is not real feeling, that there is sexual desire even with the title, and that intimacy is a real important thing.
But until then, it is just another thing that needs to be hidden away.
A (the guy I was dating in Israel before I left) recently got in touch with me. He told me he was going to be in Pittsburgh for Memorial Day Weekend for a wedding…and randomly, so am I. It turns out HE IS GOING TO THAT WEDDING! Which is really random, and I have been thinking about what it will be like to see him. He asked me if we can go out when we are both there, and I said maybe. I have been thinking about saying yes and seeing if I would want to try again. I think, even though I am/was mad at him for things he has said, there is a part of me that is still desperate. He is the only person in two years that has actually been interested in me. There is something comfortable with him (or at least there was), but also I will not have to have the sex conversation in the same way – he already knows where I stand. I’m not really sure what to do with that, but it will be interesting to see him. I do know, that I just want to look amazing when I do see him.