This fight that I am part of is overwhelming. The responses I have gotten to my Facebook page have also been overwhelming.
Once again an Orthodox organization has put out a statement that women cannot be clergy. They are a major organization that helps many shuls and schools across the country. They are a major organization that many look to for halachic guidance. They are a major organization that really does influence parts of the orthodox community.
I am just tired of fighting for my legitimacy to exist. I am tired of being a woman. I am tired of others to constantly feel like they need to put up road blocks (although one could say that if they didn’t think we were a real threat, there wouldn’t be articles written every other year).
In school yesterday we had a meeting about this statement. We know this organization has been planning this statement for over a year. In school we have spoken about our response – both in the theoretical, and now in the practical. One of the ideas from our teachers is to basically do guerrilla theatre in cafes in different towns, just having us sit and learn to show to the world that we are doing it and we are serious. Many of the women are against this idea – I actually think it will be great (if it is planned correctly). The other ideas, which were better accepted, was for us to write articles- either what we each of us are doing in the world, against what this organization said, or just divrei Torah. Another idea floating around is to bring people in to be with us in our Beit Midrash ( but this sits less with me because we will only get the people who already support us).
One thing that many of my classmates did last night was to post on Facebook what our past week looked like. I for I think the first time, posted on Facebook some of my frustrations of this argument. I use this blog to talk about my frustrations and anger- I rarely post it publicly or with my name.
So yesterday I posted:
I rarely talk about this on this forum. I also think there are way more important things going on in the world to talk about. But once again, my colleagues and my legitimacy are brought into question. We must prove that we have the knowledge, ability and worth to do what we are doing.
Over the past five years I have spent my entire week sitting in a Beit Midrash learning halacha and Talmud. I have taught on four continents. I have met with people because they were searching for guidance or a listening ear. I have guided people through life cycle events- both those that bring joy and those that cause great sorrow.
Just this week I was researching if and when we consider peace of mind pikuach nefesh and spoke to a Chinese medicine practitioner, homeopath and midwife for a shayla. Learned some Baba Metzia, and kept up (and went ahead, so maybe I will finish by ordination) with Daf Yomi. I will be teaching a class next Tuesday, Saturday, maybe Sunday and then off to my internship in Chicago on Friday. Despite what might be said from various organizations and the fighting I have done and will probably always (unfortunately) have to do- I will receive smicha and I will get a job.
Can we now move on and worry about the real troubling issues happening in the world?
To be honest, I was overwhelmed by the response. I had teachers and friends telling me that they believe in me, my fight, or support me. For the first time, there were many people (men included) speaking out either against this statement that was made or in support of institutions training women for smicha.
I have lots of thoughts of what should happen next. I feel very overwhelmed with the state of the world right now, and truthfully feel bad that I have to spend energy fighting this, when I do think there are greater concerns in the world right now. But I do think that we need to do things. I think that sitting in a room and talking is just a container for frustrations that gets no where. I want to go out and teach, even though it is scary and and hard. I want these men who have power in the institutions they are working for (like if they are a rabbi of a school or a shul) to bring in a woman (or many) as scholars in residence, or even better offer internships or a real job. I want people to put their words and ideas into action. I understand that there might be some loss in it – but just talking about support does nothing.
I know that at times I don’t feel the energy to fight. I know that I was burned pretty badly and it made me bitter.
But I need to remember why I started this in the first place. I just want to be a rabbi because it is where I think I can do the best work based on my skill set. Even though I might feel tired and angry, I need to remember that there really are people out there supporting me and think that this needs to happen- I am not alone. I need to keep on pushing on and believe (even when it is hard) that I can and will achieve my goal, and change the world.