Dana Sender-Mulla .
(photo credit: Courtesy)
In an era in which Jewish communities around the world concentrate on their own challenges, and the gap between Israel and the Diaspora is growing – whether Orthodox, Reform or Conservative, each group chooses to go its own way, and does not work together to build one single large community. Could it be that if women were in leadership positions in those institutions and community organizations things would look different?
World Jewry nowadays is divided to three main streams, with different factions within them. Allegedly, aside from carrying the title "Jew" above their heads, these groups live in most cases, unrelated to one another and often even in hostility or competition. In practice however, millions of Jews around the world, who know that they are part of something bigger, usually want and are interested in being a part of it, but find difficulty doing so. It seems that in this situation of fragmentation and lack of unity, it is easier to lose – both voluntarily and inadvertently – our connection to our sources, traditions and basis. As a result of that, many Jews become alienated to their common values, thereby contributing to the gap forming between them and their Jewish roots and connection to Israel.
At the same time, there has always been one group in Judaism that saw unity and cohesion as a supreme value – Women. While creating “Shalom Bayit” (Peace of the Home) among various Jewish groups around the world seems like an extremely difficult goal to achieve, one must remember that there is a certain population in which hope can be placed. And who, if not the women, and especially mothers, would be an exemplary example of that same “Shalom Bayit” – both with each other, and with the entire Jewish people? If we go back to biblical times we can see that King Solomon wanted to teach his people an important and central message: "Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching" (Book of Proverbs 1:8). In other words, the task of educating our future generation and determining its principals, is in the hands of us women. Meaning that the only way to bring a change to the Jewish world should and must come from women and mothers.
Allow me to break it down: Once a mother is influenced by a certain way of life, a basket of values, or a tradition, her family is immediately influenced by them as well. Therefore, if enough families have a similar influence, based on the same common customs, it will be possible to bring about a change community wise, and globally.
Saying today that "The Wise Woman Builds Her Home" (Book of Proverbs 14:1) is more relevant than ever. Women, who throughout history have maintained unity and were able to emerge from all politics and come together, prove again and again, with their collective power, that they are capable of enriching and building one another, thus developing their own environment. Not only is the mother the one to design our future generation, she also forms the family’s character, which constitutes the nucleus of the entire Jewish community.
Women have been breaking glass ceilings throughout history. Today in fact, it is quite easy to create a long and distinguished list of women who have been at the forefront of social struggles or have led to a conceptual change in humanity.
Unlike many men, who most often came to be in power positions because of them being men, women were forced to gather the courage and bravery to breakthrough. Determination, hard work and going against all odds, characterize to this day the price of success for a woman. Thus, women again prove that the responsibility for creating a real shift in this world, one that will transform society, and especially the Jewish nation, will come from them – Because they know best how to do so.
Fearlessness, unity, teamwork and taking initiative are only a few values that characterize strong women and mothers. Which is why it is important for me to remind us, on a day that is dedicated all to us women, why it is so important to invest in the only group that will be able to unite us together, to the values that we, our mothers and our grandmothers have grown up on. By empowering women, allowing them to develop, increasing their involvement in the Jewish communities and institutions, it will be possible to bring about a real and necessary change – One that will begin at the bottom of the roots and eventually bear fruit.
Dana Sender-Mulla is the JWRP Director in Israel, an organization founded in 2008 to promote the empowerment of Jewish women, recognizing their ability to change the world through Jewish values.
The organization's main project is MOMentum, an eight-day trip to Israel in which Jewish mothers from around the world participate in unique and inspiring encounters with mothers from Israel. Over the last decade more than 15,000 women from over 26 countries around the world have participated in the project and have influenced more than 200 local organizations in the Diaspora.
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