by Leah Aharoni
As published in The Times of Israel
I was born in the most feminist of societies � Soviet Russia. For the past 100 years, it has enabled, encouraged, even pushed women to take their equal place alongside men. Russia might have been hellish as far as human rights went, but it was a mecca of women�s lib.
My grandmothers and great aunts, educated in the 30s and 40s, worked as chemists, lawyers, and accountants. The women of my mother�s generation became doctors, researchers, and engineers. From tractor drivers to construction workers, from professors to judges, this was one big leveled playing field for us girls.
The result was a mangled society of miserable women, emasculated men, and neglected children.
The Women of the Wall would have us believe that true equality cannot be achieved unless they conquer the Kotel by praying there the way men have been praying for the past two millennia. Ironically, this rejection of the feminine Jewish experience is the epitome of misogyny. There is nothing more demeaning to women than positioning the traditionally male experience as the only one worth living, and setting up women for an ongoing game of catch-up.
I have a hunch that this is the reason that MK Dr. Aliza Lavie, a card-carrying feminist and the author of A Jewish Woman�s Prayer Book has rebuffed the Women of the Wall�s advances.
So, dear Women of the Wall, please don�t try to liberate me. Empowerment and victimhood are a choice, not a circumstance. Please don�t project the victim mentality on me and others like me.
I have liberated myself from the need to predicate my identity on becoming �one of the boys.� I have liberated myself from needing to feel like a victim of male oppression.
I have tapped into a 3,000-year old tradition which validates women. I have chosen to focus on the side of Judaism that empowers women to become agents of change. For it is in the merit of the righteous women that we have been delivered in every generation, and it is in the merit of righteous women that we will be delivered in the future.
I am profoundly grateful to have the privilege, denied to generations of my foremothers, to visit the Kotel, touch its stones, and pour my heart out to the One Above. He hears me, alright. No paraphernalia necessary.