"Don't tell God how big your storm is; tell your storm how big your God is."

I believe in God.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Totally Radical

For the longest time now--think months--I have worn my tzitziot (carefully, ritually knotted fringes on holy undergarment) tucked into my skirt, brushing against my legs.  I simply didn't like getting reactions to them; and I always got reactions, wherever I went, because they're just that unusual on a woman.  (In my entire life, I have met two other women who wear them: both were Rabbinical students at Hebrew College, a nondenominational Rabbinical school in the Boston area.)

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:

  1. "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.
  2. "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.
  3. "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.


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I am a bipolar, Jewish young adult (had my Hebrew birthday, the one I count, and turned 23 this past January) who also suffers from Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. I love life and I live for my best friends: they are my purpose and my reason for trying so hard. I remain passionately devoted to those I love; I will not let my disorders make me totally self-centered. I like to read, write, and sew. My Rabbinical school plans did not work out, and I am now hoping to go into the field of Early Childhood Education. Please note: I am currently maintaining only Carried in His Hands. Enjoy!