Last week Sunday, my partner and I were in Budapest, Hungary. We stopped at the Dohany Street Synagogue, the second largest synagogue in the world and the largest in Europe. After we bought our tickets and proceeded through security, we decided to go into the synagogue first and then the museum.
We walked into the synagogue. A younger man (maybe 20) was handing out paper kippot (yarmulke in Yiddish). My partner and I both put our hands out but were refused. There was an elderly man there who said that the kippot were only for men. That didn’t surprise me initially as I take my students to the Jewish Museum in Prague and I often argue with the elderly ladies over the right and acceptability of women wearing kippot. They begrudgingly give my female students kippot saying “only as souvenir,” which boils my blood. Usually, by the time they give the women kippot even those who traditionally wear them are too shamed to do so. Continue reading “What Happened When I Dared to Wear a Kippah by Ivy Helman”
Neil Gilman in his book Sacred Fragments writes, “Since our faculty of reason is G-d-given, since it is the quality that distinguishes us from the rest of creation, and since all human beings share that same innate faculty, what better way to establish the veracity of a religious tradition than by demonstrating its inherent rationality?” To be fair, Gilman is not the only and definitely not the first to support this position. Many theologians, especially those influenced by various Greek philosophers like Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, have said the same thing. In the Roman Catholic tradition, Thomas Aquinas is adamant that rationality is humanity’s imago dei, how we are made in the image of God – what the beginning of Bereshit (Genesis) suggests. Descartes argues, “I think therefore I am.
Patriarchy emphasizes rationality as divinely given over and above other attributes that humans share with non-human life – like instinct, growth and maturity, life and death, memory, caring, empathy, dependence, interconnectedness, relationality, and communication (in all its forms, not just speech). Continue reading “Why a Kippah Reminds Me that Rationality Should Not Be Our Only Imago Dei By Ivy Helman”