Of an Anniversary, a Methodology and the Parshah Yitro by Ivy Helman.

This month’s blog post marks my 10-year anniversary writing for feminismandreligion.com (FAR) and my 122nd post.  I would just like to take a moment to acknowledge this milestone and thank the community for both its dialogue with me and support over these years.  I look forward to writing for FAR for years to come.

Speaking of dialogue and support, this post is structured in the form of an answer to Barbara Ardinger’s question on my last post.  She asked in what language I read Torah.  I found that intriguing.  To me, what I do is obvious.  Yet, for the reader, I have never explicitly walked through the steps of how I create these Torah commentaries.  In this walk-through, the reader is getting a rather unedited look into my process.

Continue reading “Of an Anniversary, a Methodology and the Parshah Yitro by Ivy Helman.”

Where are the Jewish Feminists? by Ivy Helman

10953174_10152933322533089_8073456879508513260_oLast month in my regular post, I suggested that a lesbian who passes as an Orthodox man subverts Jewish traditional gender roles and understandings of sexuality at the same time she is conveying something true about her own relationship to the Holy One.  Not a single comment challenged me on that proposition.  Not one.  Why?  I think I know the answer.

While I absolutely love this site and have been a regular blogger now for three and a half years, I must say there are whole worlds of ideas, insights and conversations that we are missing. Whenever I write a blog on this site related to Judaism, it is rare that I receive a comment from someone Jewish (at least recognizably so).  And, as the above example illustrates (especially if you were to read the comments of said post), no one even recognized the problematic nature of such a suggestion or challenged me as to how I think it would accomplish subverting gender roles and traditional views on sexuality.

The fact that I am the only regular Jewish contributor writing about Judaism in this blog doesn’t help. The last one left over two years ago. Also as far as I can tell from regular reading and a few searches, the last guest blogger who was both Jewish and wrote about something related to Judaism was about this time last year.  Where are the Jewish feminists?  Not here. Continue reading “Where are the Jewish Feminists? by Ivy Helman”

Reflections on My Spiritual Journey: Claiming Judaism By Ivy Helman

“Is Ivy Helman Jewish?”   This question and knowing that eventually I’d have to respond one way or another to it has caused me many sleepless nights.  At the same time my faith journey has become integral to who I am and I would like to spend some time today sharing it with you.

Why share this and why now?  Well, first, I have not been ready until now.  In addition, external forces which I will talk about in a minute are making my spiritual path an issue.  So I share my story with a measure of concern about its possible effects but also with a great deal of joy about the ways in which my faith journey has challenged me to grow, reflect and change.

Margaret Farley emailed me about two weeks ago asking me how I identified religiously.  Someone had emailed her asking if I was Jewish because this person had read one of my past blogs in which I wrote “my rabbi” on feminismandreligion.com.  This same person is reviewing my book: Women and the Vatican: An Exploration of Official Documents.   Here is how I answered Margaret: “Hi Margaret, I’m Catholic although I do attend services at a Jewish synagogue on occasion since I was raised in essentially a multi-faith home.  On that blog, there really is no Jewish voice, so I try to comment on ideas from that tradition as much as I can.  Ivy.”  I felt unauthentic sending that email.  But, I did.

Still troubled by that answer and rather than put my friends and colleagues in the middle of questions about my faith, I feel that this has now become a public issue that I must address.  It is a question I have known I would have to answer at some point.  Nevertheless, this is not a decision that came easily or quickly.  I’ve literally agonized over it now for months.  During the time, I’ve never questioned my resolve to be Jewish and to continue to follow that spiritual journey in my life; I’ve worried more about how other people will respond and how their responses will affect my career in academia.   If I were allowed to rewrite that email to Margaret, then this is what I would say. Continue reading “Reflections on My Spiritual Journey: Claiming Judaism By Ivy Helman”

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