Not without some trepidation I went not really knowing what to expect.
For some time now I have been fascinated with roles of women in leadership within the Orthodoxy in general, and this institution in particular. Ever since around 7-8 ago I have attended an evening of discussion with Rabba Sara Hurwitz, the amazing Rosh Kehilah Dina Najman, and another lady, whose name escapes me, at the JCC of Manhattan. I was, literally, in awe of Dina – her knowledge, her posture, her attitude and humility. I was interested in Sara, but Dina just blew my mind! I researched her background, I tried to attend other events with her, all packed to the core. The thought of coming close never penetrated my mind.
Fast forward a few years, and I find myself involved deeper and deeper in Jewish learning and the struggles of women within Orthodoxy. I have merited to learn from one of the graduates of Yeshivat Maharat who remains my favorite teacher among many now that I had a privilege to learn with. So, this time I decided to go and see, and more importantly, listen for myself.
Five ladies graduated yesterday, five very unique individuals. I sat, I listened worrying about too many political, left oriented statements that I might hear. None of that. A few people spoke including Rabba Sara, of course, and Rabbi Avi Weiss, the founder of the institution, whose company I have shared many times at political demonstration in defence of the State of Israel. Every speech was genuine, full of the love for Torah and people, expressing commitment to the people and Halakhah. Every thought and statement concise with my own vision of living an observant life.
As I was listening to the speeches, a tiny speck of a thought flew into my head – what if? maybe I can? Why not? A scary thought indeed.
Of course, I know 1000+ reasons why I shouldn’t and I can’t. I don’t have any illustrious Rabbinic ancestry to fall back on, I don’t even have a regular Jewish day school education, I just love learning and teaching. I am an immigrant, but not from Australia or England. I don’t have any financial backup to sustain me. And yet, if not this path, but at least a journey on the path close enough might be somewhere in store for me. If one of the graduates could do it with seven(!) children and four grandkids, why can’t I come somewhere close?
So, borrowing her (Bracha Jaffe) chosen Psalm into her remarks, I repeat after her:
ח יוֹדוּ לַיהוָה חַסְדּוֹ; וְנִפְלְאוֹתָיו, לִבְנֵי אָדָם.
|8 Let them give thanks unto the LORD for His mercy, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!|
|9 For He hath satisfied the longing soul, and the hungry soul He hath filled with good.|
Here’s hoping for my hungry soul.