So, why a blog, and why now? Well a blog because it seems to be the best format to create a mosaic of the different interests in my life – Judaism, liturgy and ritual, Ethics, the balancing of different but competing goods, food, modernity and its challenges – and because seems more bite sized and manageble than a full web page. Maybe that will come later.
Why now? as a follower of Hillel, I would have to reply, “if not now, when?”.As the eighth woman to received semichah at Leo Baeck College in 1987 I was one of the early cohort of women becoming rabbis, and each of my colleagues were faced with the same issues- how do we earn our place in the world as rabbis, as rabbis who are modern and progressive for whom tradition has a place but not a veto? And add to that the extra question – how do we function as women in this historically male role? We learned about Regina Jonas, rumoured to be the first woman to be ordained in modern times, who died in Auschwitz, and only when the Berlin Wall fell and the archives became more available did we see proof of her semicha (ordination) and of the work she did. Within less than a generation her voice had been hushed to the merest whisper. That was a lesson for us all – the voices of women must be both in the public domain and recorded as such, or the forces that try to diminish their power and their contributions will slowly but surely cover them over and ultimately stifle them. One of our responses as a group was to write two anthologies – “Hear our Voice”, and “Taking up the Timbrel” – references to the rabbinic statement that the sound of the voice of women leads to licentiousness, and the other to Miriam, prophetess and leader with Moses and Aaron through the years of wandering in the wildnerness in the bible, who took up her timbrel and sang a song of joy at the parting of the reed sea.
Another response is this blog and others like it. As I add my voice to the chorus of women’s voices out there in the world, I project it further from my normal spheres of Home and Family, Synagogue and Movement, Committees and Boards. Bible tells us the world was founded on words as God spoke and things happened. We are created in the image of God, surely we too can use words to create a better world.