A Jewish woman prays in the Old City of Jerusalem.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
It’s so hard not to speak about something that is constantly on your mind.
This line, from an old Ingmar Bergman-movie, has been wandering back and forth in my head all week; making its way like a whisper through a windstorm.
This Yom Tov was different than others, for me and for many of those close to my heart. The events of the past two weeks are being referred to as a scandal in the Modern Orthodox community, but it’s something other than that. It’s a tragedy. For a person, for a family, for a community, for everyone whose heart is breaking and who feels their trust has been betrayed.
I will not speak of the matter at hand because I believe that this is to be dealt with by human law and G-dly judgment, and from where I stand I am privy to neither.
Instead I will point to the sharks in the water, the pile-on and the punity coming from those on a mission that neither started nor will end with this alleged crime.
In the past week I have read no fewer than five articles telling me that I, as a modern orthodox woman, am a victim. Not the victim of a crime, but the victim of my choices. They refer to me and my Jewish sisters as both sexualized and desexualized, controlled, misguided and repressed; knowing no better than to lend our minds to the will of evil men and archaic institutions.
If it did not infuriate me so much it would be down right comical. These women (yes, it’s mostly women) tell me to free myself by following them. I am being told that I am a strong and independent woman but not strong and not independent enough for me to be trusted to make my own choices in how I practice my religion or live my life.
I wonder, do they care about us being happy, or do they only care about being right? Do they care about the comfort I take from davening behind the mechitza or the spiritual fulfillment of keeping Niddah; or does it all boil down to substituting my judgment for their own?
One of the articles I read told us to listen to the non-orthodox women and take back the waters, and boy do I wish I could. I wish I could take the waters back from those smelling blood and circling around me. Take it back from the people using this tragedy for personal gain and collective judgment, jumping to “free me” through condescension and force.
They speak of us as if they know our mind and our hearts, making victims out of us to promote a political message. Well, I am here to tell you all that as orthodox women individuals may victimize us but as a group we are no victims.
It’s so hard not to speak about something that is constantly on your mind. I said I wouldn’t write about it. I promised myself that I was too close to it all to have my say. In the end, I decided I am too close not to.
So many that I care so deeply about are hurting. Last night, this night and the next. And as they are hurting, so I am hurting, too. This alleged crime focuses on loss of power and the desecration of so many things we hold dear. Why try to take more from us by shaming us for how we choose to live and making us out to be anything but the strong women that we are? How does your judgment empower us, in what way are we less objectified by a 500 word Op-Ed aimed at our bodies and our sexuality?
So, to those of you jumping on the bandwagon that is the Mikvah-scandal I ask the following: Do you pray for our healing or push for our destruction? Is your goal for us to be free to choose our path or merely free to choose yours? Is this a question of love for your fellow Jew or is it just a handy method of turning pain into politics?
You need to make up your minds, because we already did.
All by ourselves.