Excerpt from “Rabbis in Red Lipstick”

by Dasi Fruchter (Alumna of JOIN’s Seminary Leadership Project) 

…Alongside my graduate studies, however, I’ve also chosen recently to embark on a another journey towards social change through spiritual leadership. I’ve enrolled and begun to learn at Yeshivat Maharat, a seminary seeking to confirm Orthodox women as Halachic and spiritual leaders. I have always embraced and loved learning, and studying at Yeshivat Maharat is a perfect way for me to be involved in a profoundly change-making movement and also to engage in vibrant Torah leadership. The conversation about women occupying positions as clergy in Orthodox institutions is a certainly a contentious one, and also one of which I’m so excited to be a part.

The program is going well so far, days spent with my head buried in ancient rabbinic texts, exploring and wrestling with the complex nuances of Jewish law. A few weeks ago, however, something happened that struck a particular nerve for me — something having to do with my struggles and questions regarding gender and sexuality in my new community and line of spiritual work. I was sitting and eating lunch with a colleague of mine in between classes, and we were having a discussion about what would be the appropriate attire should be when performing ritual duties. Considering the controversial space the Yeshiva already occupies in a broader global Orthodox context, we agreed that though our clothing choices should not completely hide our the fact that we are, in fact, sexual beings, that anything too provocative was inappropriate.

I paused for a moment and gestured towards my lips.

“What about my lipstick,?” I asked nervously, almost unwilling to hear her response.

She paused….

Originally Posted February 20, 2013 at The Lilith Blog. Read the whole post at Lilith.org.

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