5 Things you should do Instead of Changing your Profile Picture

By Batsheva Haber

1c1984ce_12227632_10154189824321729_605260757681431226_n.xxxlargeOver the last few days, you may have noticed that many of your Facebook friends have been replaced with French flags. Perhaps you yourself have donned the flag over your everyday selfie. The purpose of this is of course to show solidarity with the French people after the horrific terrorist attacks from last week. I for one have found myself more and more frustrated by this phenomenon, and I have to ask myself why.

Is it because my country has been under a rising wave of terror and no one seems to care? Partially, but while it frustrates me that Israel’s nightmares are being ignored, my mother always taught me that two wrongs do not make a right.

So maybe I’m annoyed because when massacres are happening in Kenya no one reacts, as apparently only Western life matters? That definitely doesn’t help, but it also does not make the gesture wrong in of itself.

So perhaps it’s because while we are showing solidarity, Europe is condemning Israel and boycotting my hometown? Maybe, but I’d like to think I’m not that petty.

And then while scrolling through Facebook via the French colored glasses, it suddenly hit me. The real reason I’m upset is that THIS is how people are responding to the attack. This, and this alone. They make a slight change to their Facebook picture for a week, and then go on with their lives, feeling like they have made a difference.

I’d be the first person to speak for social media and the power and influence it has. However, I must express now what I have said in the past: Social Media is only influential if it triggers change, not if it replaces it!! Symbolic gestures are not enough to help the people of France, so they should not be enough to wipe our conscious.

So here are 5 things you can do instead of changing your profile picture:

  • Educate yourself!! One of the most upsetting videos I’ve seen recently is this one, where Buzzfeed asked their employees questions about ISIS. These people, who are not only public figures but the preferred news source of many young people, could not answer ANY of these very basic questions. ISIS is growing all over the world, torturing and murdering people on a daily basis, THE LEAST we can do is stay updated on what is happening. We owe that to the people who are suffering while we do nothing. So spend about 5 min of your daily internet time on this. (And no, watching that Buzzfeed video does not count)
  • Donate some money to help the terrorist victims in France. Trust me, any small aid you can give will be a mile more helpful than dressing up your profile picture.
  • Contact your leaders. Let them know that you think combating ISIS and radical Islam needs to be a priority. If you are American, consider signing this petition.
  • Raise awareness – No, changing your picture is not enough to “raise awareness” to the French plight or to those suffering under ISIS rule. So use what you’ve learned to make an infographic, write a blog post, or host an event in your community to raise awareness. Anything works as long as you are doing it your way
  • And last, but definitely not least, pray. Often with things this tragic, there is only so much we can do. So I turn above. I ask God to provide the victims’ families with the strength and relief that none of us can grant them, to heal the injured, to protect the people of France and the rest of the world, and to help all our other actions above make a real difference.

An Open Letter from a Halachic Feminist to the RCA

By Batsheva Haber


It’s me, the Halachic feminist.
I’m not sure if you’ve noticed me.

I’m the girl sitting in the front row of the women’s section, not just on Shabbat but for an everyday mincha as well.
I’m the girl who took a year off to study Torah before starting her life, and the girl who still wonders if maybe that wasn’t a year off, but rather should be her life.
I’m the girl who puts time aside every day to study Halacha, not because she needs to, but because she loves Halacha.
I’m the girl whose friends come to her with Halachic questions, not just because my dad is a rabbi, but because often enough I know the answer or know where to find it.
I’m the girl who grew up in the Torah world, but always felt like the boys got more.
And I am the girl who stands up to my angry feminist friends and says to be patient, that change must be done in the right way in Judaism – not by individuals but by a strong rabbinic leadership.

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed me, but your last resolution makes me think that you haven’t.

I, like many religious girls today, find myself caught between two worlds. I’m a religious feminist – something that is not necessarily an oxymoron but a hybrid, and one that has issues that need to be resolved. Many of my friends have chosen to step outside the Halachic orthodox world, to take the law into their own hands and to create a new Halachic reality. But that is not who I am writing this letter on behalf.

I’m speaking in the name of women like myself, who find themselves caught between both worlds and yet know that no matter what Halacha comes first. The women who sit time and again, patiently and frustratingly, at the sidelines of our religious community because they understand that some things can’t be done Halachicly, and that others can only be done after a long and particular Halachic process.

We have committed ourselves to the orthodox Halachic world, despite the price we pay. Because we believe in Halacha and we believe in you, we left our fate in your hands. However, this must be a two way street. If we trusted you to fight our battles, you must do everything in your power to find Halachic solutions for our issues. I am not asking you to break Halacha, just to reexamine and see what can, and what can’t be allowed within the framework of Halacha. The Halachic world is dynamic, and you know how to navigate it better than anyone, so you must do what you can. Your decisions should try to include us in the religious community we belong to, not exclude us.

So when you make such decisions, remember me and my friends and your obligation to us. Your decision affects us first and foremost, and our place in the religious community. We want to belong in your world – please don’t kick us out.

That girl