I have been called a radical. I have been told that I am changing history. I have been told that I am changing the role of orthodox Jewish women.
When these things are said to me, sometimes it is out of disgust, saying that I am ruining all of Jewish authenticity. But I have to say that most of the time it is said in awe and love.
I never meant to be a radical. My mother always told me that I marched to the beat of my own drummer. I looked around and saw what was around me, and from that decided what I wanted to do. I grew up in an era that I was taught that I could do anything I put my mind to- and so I did. I am very thankful to have been brought up in such a world.
But to me, what I do is just what I do. I go and do what my heart tells me to do. I do things that I enjoy. I do things because I think that they should be done. When I first started at the nursing home in Israel I wanted to run a ball for the residents who needed the most help in their daily living. My boss and the social workers looked at me as if I was crazy, but let me continue with my idea. It turned out to be the best event – residents were talking; people who normally were stooped over, sat up for a bit; the entire atmosphere was different – it was actually noisy (in a good way). It all happened because I had a crazy idea, but was willing to go with it – why not try it out.
I get asked often why I want to be a rabbi, and people tend to be shocked by my answer. To me, it is the most logical profession for me. It is not because I want to start a feminist revolution (although in what I do, it is what is happening). It is not because I want to be like a man. It is because it takes all the things I love doing (and I think I am good at) into one job. So yes, when I came up with the idea it wasn’t really something that could be done. And there still aren’t very many female orthodox rabbis around.
So if following one’s heart instead of the norm, being able to play “outside the box” means that I am a radical, so then yes I am a radical.