Today is International Women’s Day and I think that it’s a great time for us at from the rib? to honor, commemorate, and respect the very different and simultaneously connected lives of women everywhere, especially the Jewish feminists we talk about/to on this blog.
International Women’s Day is an opportunity to acknowledge the plethora of definitions that exist for who is considered to be Jewish. A friend of mine who is very active in her synagogue, had a Bat Mitzvah, and has been raised with a Jewish father and Christian mother, is considered the token Jew in Ohio and utterly non-Jewish according to the Israeli Knesset. A girl who has two Jewish parents, but who practices Islam is still considered a Jewish woman. The elderly woman davenning on the subway at 7am is Jewish woman who happens to express her Judaism publicly in one of the most assimilated settings. And the women sitting at the Kotel, waiting for a chance to pray, are certainly Jewish women.
This is only a glimpse of what it means to be a Jewish woman in an international context. It gets even more complex and beautiful if we look at what it means to be a Jewish feminist all over the world – from the woman believing that her daughters deserve just as much as her sons in rural Ethiopia to the woman who seems subservient but is really defiant getting out of her house in Meah Sharim to, well, teenage girls blogging in their urban homes like me and Dina.
So this is a day to celebrate the wide range of definitions we have for what it means to be a woman, a feminist, and Jewish, and just what that combination means. This is also a day for us to take action with this knowledge – to know that what we say necessitates cultural awareness and with that comes a responsibility to represent one’s own story and experience.
It’s a bit dated, but here’s a video of the American Jewish World Service commemorating this day two years ago: