Onnie Schiffmiller

Ayeka – Where are You?

In the Shabbat following the massacre of Jews in Israel, we read the story of Adam and Eve.  After eating the forbidden fruit, they attempt to hide in the garden. G-d calls out, “Ayeka?” (Where are you?)  G-d knows exactly where Adam and Eve are trying to conceal themselves.  “Ayeka” is not a location request. It’s a demand to take responsibility.  Where are you, Adam? (“Ayeka” is conjugated in the masculine form.)  You violated My trust. When will you take responsibility for your actions?

I attended university in the 1980s. Women had internalized that they could enjoy a satisfying professional career.  We could be lawyers, doctors, and engineers.  While the glass ceiling had not broken, it was beginning to crack.  We had protested and struggled to achieve our goals, and it seemed clear that we had succeeded.

But, it would be decades before the ugly truth emerged.  That while we could strive and succeed in the professional world, the path was often fraught with sexual harassment and even rape.  Certainly, not always but as the decades have passed, more and more women from varying arenas have stepped up and joined the chorus of the #MeToo Movement.   Horrific stories have emerged from Hollywood, the athletic world, and journalism powerhouses like CNN and Fox News.   Naively, we thought that women could compete on their intellect alone, but we have learned how wrong we were for so many years.

But now I ask of that same #MeToo Movement, the one who has educated us as to the realities of what was really happening in offices, schools and locker rooms across America, “Ayeka?”  Where are you?

Corroborated reports of rape of the murdered victims of the October 7 slaughter, and women’s groups are silent.  Women violated so violently that their pelvis’s were torn apart and #MeToo is silent.  I shudder when I think about what we will here from female hostages if they are ever released. Hamas operatives comfortably admitting that rape was a stated goal of the massacre, not a single act of a madman, and the Me-Too Movement is silent.  Is the world going to accept rape as legitimate form of resistance?

Dr. Minouche Shafik, President of Columbia University, where is your voice?  Why are you not screaming out that rape is never acceptable.  President of University of Pennsylvania, Liz Magill, you spoke about your concern about rising anti-Semitism.  As the president of one of the world’s greatest academic institutions, it was an important statement.  But that is not enough.  Where is the moral outrage where rape becomes a stated goal in the name of freedom?   Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo Movement, why aren’t you galvanizing thousands of your followers to protest across the country and the world.  You have a voice. Where is it?  The top women in Hollywood, you have a platform! Where are your convictions? Why are you silent?

To the women who have reached the top of your careers, Ayeka?  Where are you?

About the Author
Onnie Schiffmiller is a tour guide and the owner of Israel with Love. She made aliyah with her family from New York in 2003.
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