No, I'm not Jewish. But a good friend of mine is, and when I posed the question "can feminism and religion truly coexist?" she was the first person to step up to the plate.
I consider myself a Unitarian Universalist, humanitarian, secular humanist - whatever you want to call it - so I know next to nothing about the inner mechanations of the major world religions. I wanted to write about feminism and Christianity, feminism and Islam, feminism and Buddhism (and so on), but it would be pretty hypocritical/stupid of me to try to write when I'm not "on the inside," if that makes sense.
Here to speak on behalf of Judaism is my good friend Talia, authoress of a blog cleverly titled Star of Davida. Talia describes herself as "A loudmouth, opinionated teenage Femidox (feminist Orthodox) Jew with a love of unadulterated Judaism, a fascination with her people's historical women, and way too much time on her hands," so you can bet her blog is worth checking out!
Here's what she said in response to my question:
"In June, someone asked me what my summer plans were. 'Well, I’m going to work on my Jewish feminist blog Star of Davida,' I replied. The person I was talking to looked confused. I could tell he was holding back from saying, 'Jewish? And feminist? Did I hear you right?'
It’s a reaction I’ve gotten from quite a few people; no one seems to be able to comprehend an Orthodox Jewwho’s also a feminist. I find it kind sad that Judaism, a religion that is so feminist, has been labeled as a patriarchal, sexist religion when it’s really not. The Torah, the central holy book of Judaism, continually affirms women’s equality.
When the Jews were given the Torah, God said to Moses, “So shall you say to the House of Jacob and the Children of Israel” (Exodus 19:3). The term “Children of Israel” is how the Bible refers to the Jewish nation, so commentators question the seemingly-extra “House of Jacob.” Most explain that “House of Jacob” refers to the women, while “Children of Israel” refers to the men. The commentators (who lived in medieval communities not famed for being pro-feminist) next question why it puts the women before the men.
At Creation, God created Adam and told him not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. God then created Eve, but did not tell her to abstain from the Tree directly, leaving it to Adam to pass on the message. The snake was then able to convince Eve to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, Eve convinced Adam, and the two were expelled from the Garden of Eden.
Seeing how it didn’t work out so well when God didn’t command womankind, God made up for it and commanded the women first at the giving of the Torah. It worked this time: when Moses didn’t come down from Mount Sinai on the expected date and the Jews created the Golden Calf as his replacement, the women didn’t participate.
This is one example of many in Judaism that shows that neither men nor women should have supremacy. Having ovaries does not make someone less of a person, and Judaism is fully aware of the fact. God wants equality for all people, of any gender, race, or religion."
Well, what's your opinion? Can feminism and religion truly coexist? Whether you're Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, athiest, agnostic, or a Unitarian like me, send me your answers! I'd love to hear from you and publish your thoughts in an upcoming post, along with your name, blog, and anything else you'd like to promote. Check out the submission rules here.