Last night, I decided I was going back to wearing my tzitziot dangling loose, brushing against the outside of my skirt. I would wear them that way everywhere, that is, except the Orthodox synagogue I go to now.
Then, as I wrote to God, thought about things, and went on with my evening, I changed my mind: I am going to wear them dangling loose EVERYWHERE, including to synagogue! I am tired of hiding who I am.
Given who goes to this synagogue and how they behave (for instance, there are women who wear the big prayer shawl, and this is the same commandment), I may get no reaction at all. However, I have prepared myself for three questions, which I will answer with the simple truth:
- "Do you wear tefillin [phylacteries]?" The answer to this one is a simple "yes," because I do. Just as I am tired of hiding my tzitziot, I am tired of hiding my tefillin. I will not bring it up if nobody else does, because why start fights? (In their world, tefillin on a woman are more controversial than fringes or kippah.) However, if they bring it up, I'm ready to stand for what I stand for, with a truthful answer.
- "Are you a Jewish feminist?" The answer to this is another simple "yes," because that's exactly what I am. It's funny: once, in college, someone said to me, "So-and-so says you're a Jewish feminist. Are you?" In that moment, I burned with shame and turned down the title. Thinking it over in later years, however, I realized that's exactly what I am. I do everything a man does (I will not say I do it "like a man," because I do it with my own feminist flair), and I believe I am obligated to do so, just as much as a man is. That makes me a feminist. My father told me this morning when we talked that I am definitely a Jewish feminist, but coming from our family he wouldn't expect anything different of me.
- "Are you [a] lesbian?" This question gets answered in the negative, because I am not. They will ask, because in their minds, I am behaving "like a man;" and in their minds, lesbians behave "like men." However, I am not lesbian! They will not think to follow the question up with, "are you bisexual?" so my secret is still safe.
So, I would say I am prepared! Negative reactions, positive reactions, confused reactions--I can handle them all! Bring. It. On.