As American as Apple Pie, Baseball, and Orthodox Judaism’s Oppression of Women

It turned my stomach.  There they were, these smug fellows in their matching clothing, high-fiving each other as if they were the only people that mattered.

Me, on the other hand, I was pushed aside, irrelevant, relegated to a balcony behind a concentration camp-like fence.  What about me?  I, too, would like to join in their service, get my turn to be called up, and wear the equipment that says I am their equal.  But they don’t see it that way.  I, and millions of others, equally capable, interested, and desirous of participation, excluded by the “boys club.”

Adding insult to injury, they gave themselves fancy titles.  They call themselves “giants,” and “royals,” and expect us to look up to them and treat them like kings.

Yes, the World Series is an exclusionary, chauvinistic endeavor that keeps average people like me from the chance to swing a bat from home plate or throw a pitch from the mound.  Pushed back into bleachers, behind gates and with ushers and guards to prevent us from heading down to the dugout.

Just because I was not hired by the team’s owner or manager, why should I be barred from the playing field?  If I choose to put on an official uniform, who are they to say that I cannot play on the team?  It’s unfair, oppressive, and makes me feel inferior to them, which I know I am not.

I know that it’s not my job to play the game, but if I want to, it’s unconstitutional to deny me my G-d-given… well… my rights.

It’s as bad as Judaism. For example, those arrogant Kohanim have other people wash their hands and then leisurely remove their shoes and go up to the platform before the Aron Kodesh.  There I am in the crowd, forced to avert my eyes from these “holy” people.  Sure, they say they’re doing their job, acting as G-d’s emissaries to bless me and the rest of the congregation but I know the truth.  They just don’t want me to be a Kohain and that’s unfair.

If I wanted to perform surgery at a local hospital I’m sure they’d let me even though I don’t have a medical degree.  I mean, who’s to stand in the way of my desire to do something that makes me feel good?  I want to help people and that’s a way I can think of to do it.

Yes, by now you’re saying that what I’m saying is preposterous.  I’m not a ballplayer and there’s no reason that just because I want to be they have to allow it.

If I’m not a doctor, I’m not going to do surgery, and as a non-Kohain I will not ascend the duchan to recite the Priestly Blessing.

In all these cases, is it because I’m inferior or simply because I’m different and have a different job?  Is it because someone wants to hurt me or because I wasn’t signed to a baseball contract?

Why then do people think that Judaism is oppressive to women simply because G-d, the biggest “Owner” there is, gave men some responsibilities and women others?

As a wise man once said to me, “Let me get this straight.  I have to go to minyan; for my wife it’s optional; so she’s oppressed.  My wife has to go to the mikva; for me it’s optional; so SHE’S oppressed.”

I’m sorry, I don’t play that game.

About the Author
Growing up a rabbi's son, Jonathan Gewirtz moved around and met people from all walks of life. A columnist and speechwriter, he draws on his experiences for his writing. As the scion of a Rabbinic family, he is passionate about the power of words and the greatness inherent in each of us.
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