I used to think that I was strong. I had a lot of strength and abilities to do lots of things. Things didn’t scare me. I did what I felt was necessary to do, even when that meant doing seomthing that no one else was doing. It was easy for me to just create what I felt was lacking, even when I was doing it alone- which was most of the time.
For the first time, in a very long time, I have nothing. I don’t have the inner strength to continue. I don’t have the strength to fight. And in my opinion, the worst of it all, is that I don’t have the strength to help others fight. I am seeing other people hurting, and instead of having the ability to sit and listen and talk with them, I don’t want to even look at them. I can’t…partially because I don’t want to hear, but a large part because I can’t hear. I can’t take on someone else’s pain and struggle. And I feel bad about that. It makes me feel like a bad person.
I need to make a choice, which in theory should be easy. It should be easy to leave a “bad place” and go to what is seen as a “good place”. But as with making any choice, things are not so easy- because making once choice can and will change everything else that is happening and will happen.
I have been learning in a program for three years. In some ways it is very exciting. It is the first place to ordain women in Israel. I have the privilage to sit with some of the greatest female minds in Jewish law. I am able to learn from a rabbi that has very progressive, although accepted views in halacha. I have the privilage of sitting in a beit midrash with over 200 women, from age 18-50something. I am able to sit with other people learning the same thing as me, and am able not only to have intellectual conversations with them about the material, but also able to joke about it (which in my opinion is equally as important).
On the other hand, this program has been the place that I have struggled the most I can remember. It is a place, that I found that I was spoken down to. A place that tried to make decisions for me. A place that did not speak with me, rather they spoke at me. A place where I was made to feel like I was nothing, and had nothing to give to the world.
For a while, I was able to find ways to fight against that. I am very thankful that I have friends and family that are very supportive of what I am doing, and really try to help me find ways and places to do what I want to be doing. I also have my own stregth to find places to teach and learn– which have helped. If I wasn’t also teaching in camp (the one place in my life where I feel like I am really treated as an equal) I don’t know how the rest of my year would play out. I found places around the world to teach, I started to be someone that speaks in shuls and gets paid for it. I was able to remind myself that I do have self worth, and that I can do it– and I was doing it, maybe still am.
I was the one in the program that was called the “feminst coach”. I was the one to remind the other women that they too have strength, and good qualities. That they have the right not to be spoken down to. That they deserve to be treated as adults and make their own choices, including where and what they want to do when they finish school.
After some really horrible insidents, I have seen how two faced this world is. That the ones who are supposedly there to help promote me, help me, teach me– are actually the ones that are hurting me. They are the ones that are in charge, and get to decide what happens next. They are the ones that no matter what is said to them still see themselves as in power, and the only way for them to show their power is to put others down. That we are the “poor, weak women” that need THEIR help– the strong men, already within the fold.
I have looked at a different program. One that I would be able to stay where I am but I would go to class via skype. They have a better reputation for working with their women. They have a better track record of getting their women jobs. The women there seem to be happy and seem to want to learn and teach Torah. But at the same time, going there will once again leave me alone. I will learn in a room alone. Evven though there might be other people learning in the same room as me, there won’t be anyone for me to ask questions to. There won’t be anyone to make jokes with. There won’t be other people in the room going stir crazy after learning for 8 hours.
But maybe that is better than fighting to feel like I am worth something…
And here I find myself in a place of feeling lost. Of feeling nothing. Of not knowing what to do next. I tried for so long not to let these things get to me. To try and fight against it, and I feel like I have lost. I feel like have no strength. I need to be able to listen to someone and be under someone who does not see me as a person. I want to prove to him that I am…but I don’t have the strength to do so. I don’t have the strength to continue fighting. I don’t have the strength to start something new. I don’t have the strength to be different….