I am feeling VERY overwhelmed right now. This feeling occurs on a certain day each season. It usually starts with a mailbox and ends with my head buried in a magazine. This feeling occurs when a new issue of Lilith: Independent, Jewish & Frankly Feminist arrives. This time, however, the overwhelming feeling must go beyond my internal flutter of Jewish feminist inspiration and progress into posts on a baby blog that has yet to face a new issue of the magazine that started the fascination.
Usually when I am overwhelmed, I need to retrace my steps to see where I began. My interest in feminism took hold at a reading for my writing program when I was in the ninth grade. Jessica Valenti was the guest speaker and read from her pioneering book Full Frontal Feminism on what it means to be a young feminist, the injustices we see daily in the media, and actually having the power to change that. I was hooked. I began reading Feministing daily (who am I kidding? Hourly.) and I was given a language through which I could express an identity I perpetually learn from.
My friend and I shared this passion and decided to start a feminism club at our school last year. From the club, I have learned what it means to have a feminist community and the importance of creating dialogue.
Throughout all of this, I was not practicing Judaism. I actually kind of gave up on a religion I did not share a language with. And by “language,” I do not just mean Hebrew. I mean an ideology that I could not identify with. I did not know of the legendary matriarchs because the all-male rabbis I had growing up acted like they never existed or told their stories only in the context of those of their husbands.
Then, at the end of last year, I was preparing for a 5-week trip to Israel as a part of a pluralistic community of Jewish youth. As fate would have it, on the day I went to borrow the books I had to read for the trip, the library was giving away old issues of Lilith. Honestly paying more attention to the attractive cover than to the content, I picked up a few for what I thought would be some light reading. When I saw the subtitle Independent, Jewish & frankly feminist, I knew I found a connection between dueling identities. I realized they could connect and I recognized my own Judaism in light of my feminism.
During my time in Israel, I had the opportunity of being taught by an editor of Lilith who gave me some more back issues and I would sit on the Jerusalem grass listening to Ani Difranco as I learned to speak a sort of Yiddish – a fusion of the language of feminism I had first learned at that reading with a language I thought I would never be able to speak and one that continues to speak to me through the words of Jewish women that have both struggled with and celebrated their femininity in the context of my religion.
A few months after I got back from the trip where I reconciled identities, I started this blog. Now, I am here, contemplating what to do about the wealth of knowledge I receive from others and how to transmit ideas across publications and schools of thought. What I think I will do is take my precious time to savor the brilliance that is this magazine and then report back to you all with my own take on the latest hot topics of Jewish feminism and how they affect my life as a high school Jewish feminist.