In my short time in Israel I have come to notice something that really gets ‘under my skin.’ There is a growing trend amongst young Jewish women to behave in the most distasteful manner. When I think about famous women from the bible, I am reminded of the intrinsic values that they have taught us such as the importance of exuding kindness and humility even in the most adverse situations, however the characteristic that stands out for me, is the selflessness of these women. Each and every one of them, in some way or another, always put the needs of others before their own, at times accompanied by great sacrifice. Queen Esther put her own marriage aside in order to try and save the Jewish people from a formidable death sentence. Rebecca did not hesitate to provide water for Isaac’s camels until they were finished drinking and ran numerous times between the water well and the camel’s trough in order to fulfil this task. The bottom line, is that these women from the bible always went the extra mile to ensure that others were taken care of, before being consumed with their lives and personal problems.
I recently heard from a friend, that there is a popular TV show involving young Jewish woman from a specific community, that has officially been cancelled and taken off the air altogether. The reason this decision was made was that it “portrays the Jewish people in a negative light, and we already have enough of that.” Seriously? Based on what I have observed, heard and experienced in the past year, I think this TV show captures the true nature of the selfish, ungrateful and materialistic attitude of the young Jewish women involved, and the people who complained about the TV show in the first place were, in my opinion completely embarrassed by the behaviour of these young Jewish women on international television.
I find that as a result of all this, I am having to explain this kind of behaviour to my gob-smacked, non-Jewish friends and family and many of them question why I continue to justify this behaviour. Let me be clear: I don’t. I have been raised knowing how to cook something other than the basic tea, toast and noodles. I have been raised knowing how to vacuum, mop the floor, wash, dry and pack my dishes away immediately after use or at least before I go to bed. I have been raised knowing how to make my bed every morning before I leave the house, change my linen, wash my laundry and hang it up to dry, and yes even kill a cockroach. Above all my parents taught me to always treat other people the way I wanted to be treated. I know that it sounds cliché, yet there is merit to these words.
When I look at some of the young Jewish women that have surrounded me, I cannot help but wonder where God is in their lives. Praying at the Western Wall, relaxing on the Sabbath or wearing the correct clothes does not in any way mean that one has a relationship with God. A relationship requires hard work, and consciously deciding every day to love the other, even if every fibre of your being tells you otherwise. Although the famous women of the bible taught us about different qualities, led different lifestyles and endured diverse, countless challenges, they all had one thing in common. They chose to love God above everything else in their earthly world.
Perhaps the reason that I have noticed this increasing trend amongst young Jewish women, is that they have forgotten about what is really important in the longer scheme of things. ‘Selfishness’ and ‘Materialism’ are only two examples of the many idols that we Jewish women have created in our lives, and the reason we have done this is to satisfy the world around us and fill the deep void in our hearts where God should have been all along.
“Here’s to good women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.”