As this summer, and this Jewish year wind down, I’m completing the painting and writing for my fourth illuminated book Kabbalat Shabbat: the Grand Unification, which presents illuminated paintings and commentaries on the anthology of synagogue and dinner-table prayers, blessings, songs and traditions with which we welcome the Shabbat bride.
One of the great disappointments of this summer has been finding out, with the publication of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman, that To Kill a Mockingbird‘s Atticus Finch was not such a nice guy after all. Even if he was as handsome as Gregory Peck, he was not quite as attractive on the inside as we thought he was when we read his closing remarks to the jury during Tom Robinson’s trial. This has led to many heart-wrenching essays about how our heroes always fail us in the end.
When you see an adorable baby, a stunning gem, or an intricately illustrated medieval Hagaddah, don’t you feel a yearning to touch it? We connect with others and objects through our senses: seeing, hearing, and smelling to be sure, but most of all through our sense of touch. We feel closer to people and gain intimacy through physical contact.
Growing up wasn’t always easy, but I remember feeling comforted in knowing that no matter what stood before me, my voice mattered. I was proud of gaining the ability to make my own decisions and as I entered college and then graduate school, I relished the analytical study of literature, psychology, anthropology and feminism. My human and female narrative was developing all the while, with little obstruction from the outside world and, in fact, was very much supported by it given the coursework I chose, the teachers with whom I learned and my sense of personal agency. I learned to stand up, to speak and to be counted. Later, in my work as a psychologist, this internal strength that I developed helped me assist others in finding confidence within themselves and learning to speak when necessary and be heard. It still does.
Israel is the most uplifting place in the world, and on my trip there last week I felt the usual incredible energy from the mall in Ramat Aviv to Tachana Rishona in Jerusalem – kids of all ages running around parents, teens and tourists.
On Feb. 28, 2012, 5 Adar, my entire world changed. My first child was born. My center of gravity moved out of myself and into that space that connects mother and child.
Laws of family purity and sex should be private, but can they be too private?
Although the official subtitle of last month’s London JOFA conference was “Reinforcing Tradition through Renewal,” what I took away from the day was a slightly different question: immersed as we are in a modern, metropolitan, even mundane existence, how do we maintain and increase kedushah, holiness, in our life?
There is a place for every man and woman in feminism. Furthermore, there is a place for every Jewish woman in feminism.
For those of us engaged in the lifelong passion and struggle of learning Torah with a feminist consciousness, writing it all off as yet another element of patriarchal religion is not an option. Baruch Hashem, Thank God.