Today during my daily consumption of blogs, I read about an on going debate about the power of Jewish women in liberal Judaism. Rebecca Friedman’s informative article about the state of the debate can be found on Jewess and Lilith, Jewish women’s issue blogs that are definitely worth a read. After reading the articles, I was shocked to see how many studies and articles argue that women gaining power in liberal Judaism is a bad thing and that it’s causing a crisis for men! You don’t say!?
After reading a few articles, I starting thinking about how liberal Jewish women fit into broader trends about women. In general, women have been gaining power in many different parts of society. Although women have not played a well documented role in religious institutions, women have always been a major part of religious order, especially in the home.
Even though Jewish women may now be playing a more powerful formal role in Jewish institutions, I think this is just a transfer of power, not an increase of women’s interest in Judaism. Jewish women have always had many duties in the home that made them active participants in Judaism. Who is lighting the candles on Shabbat? Who is guarding the Shabbat, cooking and cleaning and preparing the household for the Sabbath bride? I think it’s been the woman for a long long time.
And if the men are getting crowded out by the so called “feminizing” of liberal Judaism, well then men, jump back in! Yes, women should make an effort to coax back the submissive men, but liberal Jewish men also need to learn to live in a more feminine atmosphere, something that they can learn about from their female counter parts who were living in a male atmosphere for thousands of years.
I don’t hate to say it, instead I’m very proud, the liberal Jewish woman has arrived, but she was always there!!!