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.
Purim is behind us. The kitchen counter is littered with nosh from lavish Purim baskets. There’s a lingering ringing in your ear from the boo’s shouted at Haman, and a faint whisper of inspiration lingering in your heart from the heroic acts of Esther and Mordechai.
Perhaps the most pivotal moment in the Megillah story is when Esther is hesitant to approach King Ahasuerus on behalf of the Jewish people because she might be killed for entering the Royal Court uninvited. She is so scared for her own safety that Mordechai must rouse her to action by suggesting that perhaps her whole life was building up to this very moment. Esther is convinced by his argument and three days later she enters the Court to confront the King.
Is she beheaded? No. Burned alive? No. Thrown into a pit of lions, or snakes, or lions that shoot snakes out of their mouths? Nope. She’s warmly greeted by the King. Before she can say a thing he asks, “What troubles you, Queen Esther? And what is your request? Even to half the kingdom it shall be granted you.” He’s magnanimous!
She had vastly underestimated her power and influence with the King. She entered unsure whether he would even spare her life, and discovered that he was prepared to give her half his kingdom! She had been blessed with a life of riches and royal influence that she didn’t fully appreciate, and had to be reminded that “perhaps you have attained this royal position for just such a crisis.”
American Jews today suffer from a similar lack of self-awareness. We too have achieved lofty stations for a purpose, and too frequently we forget how even our smallest actions can have great consequences. The American Jewish community has wealth and political influence that is significantly disproportionate to our population. We have the opportunity to engage in activism and philanthropy that can have a real impact on the world we live in and people who we may not always realize are our global neighbors.
Just such an opportunity is at hand. Today, International Women’s Day, marks the reintroduction to Congress of the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA). While protection of women and girls from gender-based violence is currently a part of US foreign policy by executive order, IVAWA would cement it into law.
There is a narrow window of opportunity for passing this legislation before the next election cycle begins. You can learn more about getting IVAWA passed on the website for the AJWS We Believe campaign. Please take a minute to call your congressional representatives and ask them to support the International Violence Against Women Act.
An estimated one out of every three women worldwide will be physically, sexually or otherwise abused during her lifetime. In some countries, the numbers are even more devastating, with seven in 10 women experiencing significant forms of violence.This legislation would ensure that the US government remains focused on this important issue.
Who knows? Perhaps for just such a crisis you have been elevated to this position.
Still not sure about why IVAWA is important? Spend 4 minutes watching Theresa’s story and realize that one crucial part of the bill will direct funding to local non-profits like the one that helped her escape an abusive husband.
Pronounced: PUR-im, the Feast of Lots, Origin: Hebrew, a joyous holiday that recounts the saving of the Jews from a threatened massacre during the Persian period.