Women in Judaism
Volume 1 , Issue 4 (June, 1988 | Tammuz, 5748)
No single issue in contemporary Jewish religious life has received more sustained attention in the secular press than the role of women in Judaism. The vast majority of this attention has focused on those individuals and institutions who, as a result of their discomfort with what they perceived to be the role of women in the tradition, have decided to break with halakha (Jewish law) and institute changes in womens' roles in the synagogue and other aspects of Jewish life. The attention to these movements can, unfortunately, leave one with the impression that the only individuals struggling with, and hence the only potential solutions to, perceived difficulties in Jewish women's roles, lie outside of traditional halakhic Judaism. In addition, the full nature, variety and potential of the Orthodox Jewish woman is frequently ignored or overlooked with the result that contemporary women experiencing an awakened interest in Judaism often dismiss Orthodoxy as incompatible with their feminist or egalitarian ideals without giving halakhic Judaism a second look.
The women who have contributed to this issue of The Jewish Review have all given Torah Judaism that second glance and, in ways consistent with their own individuality, have made or renewed a commitment to the halakhic way of life. At the same time they are keenly aware of the issues and, at times, difficulties, inherent in integrating an adherence to Torah Judaism with life as a contemporary educated woman, one who is both conscious of and in agreement with some of the tenets of the women's movement. They have struggled with the issues and their struggle is revealed on our pages. Their contributions provide us with some valuable lessons in how to think about what is often an emotionally laden topic.
Our Responsibility to the Victims of Aids
Those of us who work with individuals afflicted with and dying of AIDS see first hand the immeasurable anguish which this illness brings to the afflicted, their friends and their families. AIDS knows no racial or religious boundaries and the disease has affected the lives of many in each of our city's ethnic and religious communities.
While Jewish leaders have called for compassion on all those afflicted with this illness, many individuals continue to be judgmental or aloof with respect to the AIDS crisis. As far as those who suffer from this illness are concerned, however, the time for judgment and aloofness is long past. The adult victim of AIDS, acutely aware of the inevitability of his or her own death, faces a spiritual crisis of unfathomable proportions.
It isthe task of those of us who regard ourselves as possessing a spiritual heritage to assist the victims of AIDS, particularly those of our own faith, in facing this crisis so they can emerge from it with a new belief in themselves, their people and God. Itwould seem that anything less on the part of a Torah observant Jew stems from failure to truly understand and observe the mitzvah of bikkur cholim as it applies to this devastating epidemic.