We recently received letters from young girls who heard about Women of the Wall from their counselor at Camp Young Judaea Sprout Lake in New York State. Reading these pre-teens’ thoughts, I found myself inspired. I felt stronger and clearer in my resolute in this Sisyphean battle, which is ongoing for nearly three decades.
“I completely agree with what you’re doing,” Wrote young Noa. “When I read the Torah, it definitely inspires me.” I want to thank Noa and her friends for refueling and reenergizing me, for reminding me that battles about gender equality are not only for us, but also and mainly about our holy obligation as women, our sacred duty to the next generations.
Each generation of women stands on the shoulders of previous generations. A hundred years ago or so, the Suffragettes endured much suffering and oppression. They were arrested, imprisoned, confined to mental institutions. They saw their children taken away from them, and their husbands turn their backs. But they continued to fight in order to win a right that seems so basic to us today: the right to vote. And there is Noa, delighting in reading Torah. We must keep fighting for our right to the Torah, so that when Noa and her daughters look back knowing that for them, it’s obvious, they will remember we had to fight for it. Knowing that, they’ll carry on Tikun Olam.
Not everyone can be out there physically in the battle, but we can all participate. There are many ways in which each and every one of us can be part of the struggle: by mentoring, sharing on social networks, by contributing and thus supplying the fuel for this equality train to move forward. Luckily, with times changing and the victories of our foremothers, like the Suffragettes, more women can be involved with giving thus helping to redefine women’s rights. More women can decide to channel their funds and their influence towards issues that are meaningful to them and their children.
Reading the camp girls’ notes, I realized they were relying on us to make their futures easier, equal, and inclusive. I take the liberty to ask you to think about women’s rights and about supporting women’s rights when you do your philanthropy. When you contribute, you can influence. Use your influence to ensure equality and pluralism for girls like Maddy who wrote: “I don’t know what the big difference between women and men is (sic). We just want to pray and do the things men are allowed to do. It’s about time something changed.”
Maddy, I couldn’t agree more.