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.