It continues to amaze me, when I think about it, that we are living in a moment in history when social change in Judaism, and in the world, is actively happening every day. Women are still gaining ground as equal members of society; feminism has not finished its business.
When I heard Anat Hoffman speak last spring, the part of her message that most resonated with me was this: many חִלּוֹנִי Israelis don't know that Judaism can be anything but ultra-Orthodoxy. As such, they are automatically excluded, and exclude themselves, from religious life. Imagine a world where Israelis of all stripes felt free to lay claim to their own religious heritage, the way we can and do here in the US. I've heard Israelis say "We [Israelis] don't go to shul". Well, no wonder. I might not go to shul either, if I felt that my beliefs were dismissed as deviant by the sole official religious governing body of the nation.
As part of the New Israel Fund's Taking Our Place campaign in honor of the 25th anniversary of Women of the Wall, they asked for submissions of personal stories that explain "how YOUR connection to your Jewish heritage has been strengthened by the Jewish community's move to more gender equality."
Given that gender equality in Judaism (and in life) is something that I care deeply about (plus, let's face it, I can't resist a good writing assignment), I jotted down the story below, which can also be found on the NIF website, here.
I encourage you to share your story with the NIF as well. If you do, please send it to me, too, so I can share it here.