1) I had lunch at a young lady’s apartment along with a couple dozen others today. Some guy made kiddush and the hostess made ‘hamozi’, prompting a guy sitting next to me, who had gone to Ohr Somayach with me a year and a half ago, to ask me if women making ‘hamozi’ was something my school promoted (I don’t know how well he knows YCT), and I promptly answered, “Sure.” He said, “Y’know, it’s a feminist thing.” I then noted a quandary of mine, “How come, in my experience, women seldom make kiddush, yet often make ‘hamozi’?” (I’m still not sure….) However, I realized this evening that I never responded to his problem about feminism. I suppose in more haredi circles, feminism is problematic (certainly with no regard to whether it’s second wave, third wave[, fourth wave (if such a thing exists, or is developing), or even post-feminism]), though I figured out a tentative understanding:
Feminism presents no ostensible problematic for Judaism. Rather, it does present problems for masculine hegemonic social structures. Thus, for those men who have strong masculine hegemonic understandings of Judaism, it certainly is problematic. However, the synthesis of the two enterprises necessitates for men (albeit uncomfortably, usually) a change in their attitudes, approaches, and actions in Judaism, while there is an amelioration of the position of women. Not only is the latter outcome beneficial for women’s experiences within Jewish activities, etc., it also serves to help not turn women away due to unhappiness with their station in Jewish society.
2) This was my first holiday I spent in the Heights (aside from my YU undergrad days) and attended services and celebrations at my new shul,
3) When it came time this morning for every man in the congregation to get an עליה (saying the blessings over the Torah), which is, apparently, a custom – I was stunned. I suppose I hadn’t remembered or experienced such a thing – oh well. Nevertheless, I felt almost sickened by the total disregard towards the women, and sort of bad for taking part in the ceremony, perhaps implicating me in the masculine hegemony being exercised – I still took part, though. The first thing to pop into my mind was that if the whole צבור of males was taking part, then there would be no כבוד צבור (honor of a congregation) issues, as per the teaching of the rabbis (Megillah 23a), as the whole congregation is taking part. I mentioned it to a couple of people, who agreed. As the men had split up into three different places, each with a Torah scroll, a young lady who was visiting suggested that it could be done such that there be another room or two where there would be women עליות (saying the blessings over the Torah) taking place. I thought it a great idea, though everybody involved knew such a thing would not take place this year in the Heights.