The other day, I had the most mind-blowing conversation with my girls. Actually, I wasn't really a part of it. They have reached an age where they carry on their own conversations and don't even need or care for me to participate in them. Fortunately, if we so happen to be in the same room, and especially if I am in the process of doing something for them, I am allowed to listen in.

So there we were, in the kitchen with a friend of mine who doesn't really know much of anything about Judaism. She is beginning to learn and is open, warm and respectful of everything, but is really just starting to ask questions. I'm not sure how the conversation arose exactly, but something came up about whether or not my girls are jealous that they are not boys, because boys seem to get to do so many more things in the Jewish world.

Now, to put this in context, our family consists of three daughters and one son, so add in mom and dad, and that makes four to two, with the females winning out. So ours is a very woman-dominated household, and my girls have never wondered for a minute which is the stronger sex. It has never been a question since - based on their environment - it is so clearly the women! It is to the point that my poor son has asked why he wasn't lucky enough to be born a girl.

My son has asked why he wasn't lucky enough to be a girlBut the petty things aside, my girls were having a heart-to-heart with my friend about the role of women in Judaism, and seeing things through their eyes was just unbelievable. The conversation began about going to synagogue on Shabbat. Now being that this past week was freezing cold with ice showers, the prospect of walking the mile to shul was not something that anyone in their right mind would really want to do. Have to do? That is something else. But I am talking about wanting to do it.

I am going to try my best to replay the essence of their conversation with some elaborations of my own. After all, it was such a good conversation that I just had to join in. First, I will tell you the main arguments that my friend made, as well as numerous others who have through the years, of why Judaism appears to be so chauvinistic. Following that list is the list of what life would be like, and the arguments us women would have, if roles were reversed and we were the men.


Biggest complaints about Judaism and women:

  • We are not counted in a minyan and we do not read from the Torah
  • We do not wear a tallit, tzitzis, tefillin or kippah

OK, now, if roles were reversed, and we did have these abilities, here is the way I imagine we would see things.

The Minyan and Torah Reading:

Am I not a whole enough person?What is wrong with me? I cannot pray on my own, where I want to and how I want to? In order to say certain prayers I need nine other women with me? Am I seen as only 1/10 of a person in Judaism? Am I not a whole enough person? Why is it that men can pray whenever they want, wherever they want, but me, I am required to be in a certain place at certain times? Why can't I just pour out my soul to G‑d like men can, however they feel like it? They don't need prescribed times to recite prayers! They don't even need to recite all the prayers? It is optional! Yet us women, we are not good enough to just communicate with our G‑d. We can't be trusted to just speak to G‑d on our own so all the prayers have to be written out for us to recite. And even the recitation can't be on our own, but we have to show up, so that everyone else can see if we are there!

Now the issue with Torah reading....I mean, we know that reading from the Torah is important, but then how come the men aren't required to be there for it? Why don't they need to even show up? And yet, not only am I required to read from the Torah and to hear it, but I can't even do it on my own. Here we go again, I need nine other women to do this!

Tallit, Tefillin, Tzitzit, and a Kippah:

Great, so not only can I not pray on my own, not only do I need nine other women to join me, and not only do I have to show up at synagogue to do so…but now I have to dress in a way for the world to know what a weak being I am. So that I shouldn't forget that there is a G‑d above me, I am required to wear a kippah. The men? No, no need. They are smart enough to remember all by themselves. And the tzitzis, just in case I forget, there I have the right number of strings and knots to be made well aware at all moments that there are 613 commandments. The men? Nope. Totally ingrained in their memory, naturally. So we women get to walk around with strings hanging from our shirts while the men can dress fashionably and go totally unnoticed as they walk around. It is not like they walk around with a huge message stating that they cannot be trusted to remember who they are or what they are supposed to do. Just us women who need that!

Does He think I am not good enough just being me? But the best, you just have to love the tallis. When I actually do come to pray, I can't just be myself. I can't dress as I please. No! I have to totally enwrap myself and cover myself up in what basically looks like a sheet? Is G‑d embarrassed of me? Does He think I am not good enough just being me? Why do we all have to stand there looking the same? Why do we have to dress in this costume to pray??? And the men? Firstly, they don't even need to come. When they do, they can participate if they want to, but they certainly don't need to. And they have no need to wrap themselves in a tallis! They don't need to strap leather boxes on their head and arm. They are able to remember all by themselves the connection of their mind to their emotions and their love and connection to their Creator. It is amazing that in order for us to pray we have to jump through all these hoops!


Now, granted, we get to read the Torah and the men don't, and it is so holy, but the commandments the men get to do are on their own. They don't need anyone else to participate, and they don't even need anyone else to know that they have done their commandments. Take Shabbat, for example. They get to light the candles in their home. They say the blessing and they create Shabbat. I mean, that is pretty powerful! For us women, we can't create it. We have to wait for them to make it happen, or for it to happen on its own when the night falls. But these men, I mean they say a blessing, and wham, they created Shabbat!

But then, let's say the next day it is raining or snowing or whatever it might be, they have no need to go rushing out first thing in the morning to pray. They can stay home and pray at their leisure. Sure, if they want they can hear the Torah read, but they have absolutely no obligation to! But us women, nope, first thing in the morning we have to get out of our warm beds and rush. Because if we don't show up, and there aren't ten women, then the other women can't even read Torah! Talk about a burden!

And don't get me started with mourning in Jewish law. I mean I can't even mourn on my own or in my own way? I have to show up three times a day for a whole year! Can't I be trusted to do anything on my own? Nope, that is Judaism for you! Truly a man's religion. He can pray in his own clothing with no need to throw a tallit around him. He can pray in the comfort of his living room. He walks around with no need for the physical reminders plastered on his head and under his shirt that he is a Jew with commandments to follow. Nope, he remembers these things all by himself. And while we women are really only 1/10 of a whole, a man is always whole, created that way from the get go. I'm telling you, talk about the unfairness towards women in this religion!!!