I didn’t think I still had to do this, but… The idea that because I am not Haredi I cannot/should not speak out against erasing women is ridiculous. I am a Jew. Born and raised in Lakewood, NJ, thank you very much.
I recall when Jews were Jews, not Haredi, Dati Leumi, Open Orthodox, Ultra Orthodox, Modren Orthodox etc. We all said Good Shabbes to one another on or way to shul — even the Conservative and Reform(!) Jews. I recall when people respected one another – even when they didn’t agree, even when they lived differently.
I recall the two bakeries we all used together. The lines we stood on and the papers we bought — none of which treated women as pariahs.
We have lost the tzelem Elokim that we were created with. We have trashed it with division, derision, and by attacking the other.
I speak out against extremism and erasing women because it is an affront to the Judaism I know and love. It is an affront to the world Hashem created. It is a stain on the legacy we were gifted.
It leads to women denied rights, to women chained, to women dying of a disease they could not name.
No, I am not Haredi. I am Jew. I am a Torah loving, mitzvah keeping, doing the best I can with what I’ve been given Jew.
Unfortunately, extremism came to me. I did not come to it. It has seeped into my daily life. It has crept into my home and it is relentless in its insidiousness. It has no end, because it has no shape. It fits wherever people let it in. Often, it arrives without your notice until one day you look up and the world is different from the one you knew.
My grandparents O’H, Survivors of the Shoah, and my parents (may they live and be well) taught me one thing above all. Bystanding is evil. Doing nothing when you can do something is to deny your responsibility. I will never do nothing when people are being hurt if it is in my power to anything at all.
So, no, I am not grandstanding. I am not Haredi bashing. I am not bitter or angry, other than at those who allow extremism to ruin the precious world we were given, which came with balance and kavod, and have the gall to call it Torah.
I speak against those who make up rules, who shift the world and call it ‘mesorah’, who ignore the words of the women and children in the community, who ignore the real issues and replace them with noureshkeit and fake halachah, who worry more about what the neighbors think than what Our Father in Heaven thinks, who cast aspersions on those seeking normalcy, balance and respect for our daughters, who create false enemies and straw man arguments, who like to speak of “bitter women with an agenda”.
I count the moments until I no longer have to speak out, when the community reins itself in, when leaders actually lead…
From all I see, and all I hear, it is clear, that time has not yet come.