The Torch explores gender and religion in the Jewish community. Named for Deborah the Prophetess, "the woman of torches," the blog highlights the passion and fiery leadership of Jewish feminists, while evoking the powerful image of feminists "passing the torch" to a new generation. Disclaimer: All posts are contributed by third party authors. JOFA does not assume responsibility for the facts and opinions presented in them.
She wore a kippah as she opened her gemara. We were a somewhat diverse group–I come from an Orthodox background, and found myself sitting around a table with women rabbis from across the Jewish spectrum. We spent two hours each week at the same dining room table gathering as a chabura, study group, to study gemara, Tractate Pesachim to be exact. Linda wore her kippah as she shared her perspective and understanding of Rashi, the medieval commentator, and the Tosafot, later medieval commentators. I was blessed to study with this learned group on a weekly basis. While our initial intention was to study, expand our knowledge and understanding and to keep our skills fresh, so much more was accomplished during this time.
Linda wore her kippah when she shared delectable treats with our chabura. She spent time shopping for special cheeses and other organic scrumptious and nourishing snacks on a weekly basis. She demonstrated kindness in her kippah.
Linda wore her kippah when we shared life’s trials and tribulations during our weekly gathering. From matters of health, career, and other highs and lows, Linda wore her kippah when she offered support and advice. During those memorable moments when relationships were built and solidified. When we shared our personal struggles, our family struggles, our career struggles and everything in between. She would pay close attention to the details of situations and squint with a sparkle in her eye to let you know that you mattered to her. She not only listened, she would check in regularly… a week later… a month later… to make sure that your situation was improving.
Linda wore her kippah when she read aloud the words of the Tannaim, rabbinic sages of the first and second century, and the Amoraim, the rabbis following the Tannaitic period whose discourse shape the discussions of the Talmud. She wore her kippah when she identified the complexities of the texts and tried to understand their differing perspectives and when she translated the texts and offered personal narratives. Linda wore her kippah when she disagreed with the takeaway from a text, disagreeing in the most dignified and respectful manner.
Linda wore her kippah when she handed me blankets and other homemade attire that she lovingly handcrafted for my newborn child. The same child that she had prayed would be born healthy and in a timely fashion. She offered these beautiful gifts after months of consoling me and offering suggestions for dealing with the insurance company approving fertility test so that I could now hold my beautiful son in my arms.
Linda is a scholar, a loyal friend, a caring mother, a supportive colleague, and respectful whenever she has a difference of opinion. She has a very calm demeanor. Yesterday morning, I logged on to Facebook and saw her photo on my computer screen smiling as always. Having spent recent weeks studying in Israel, she was on her way to pray at the Kotel and to deliver letters from her second grade students. She was on her way to perform yet another mitzvah. She was there to pray and to keep her promise to her students by placing their notes in the crevices of our Kotel. Of course, Linda was wearing her kippah as she always does when she is performing avodat hakodesh, holy work.
Linda wore her kippah when the security guards questioned her about who gave her permission to wear a kippah. Linda wore her kippah when she was told to speak to the police about the religious garb that she was wearing in the Jewish homeland. Linda wore her kippah as she was escorted away from the entrance to the Kotel plaza, and towards the taxi line. Linda did not have the opportunity to wear her kippah in prayer at the Kotel. She did not have the option to wear her kippah as she fulfilled her promise to her second graders by placing their personal written prayers in the wall. Instead, she wore her kippah as she left, befuddled, in her taxi ride home.
Pronounced: KEE-pah or kee-PAH, Origin: Hebrew, a small hat or head covering that Orthodox Jewish men wear every day, and that other Jews wear when studying, praying or entering a sacred space. Also known as a yarmulke.
Pronounced: KOH-tell, Origin: Hebrew, Western Wall in Jerusalem, Judaism’s holiest site.