Tuesday, December 22, 2009

To be Holy in the sight of God: In solidarity with Women of the Wall

Part of a solidarity blog series for Women of the Wall.  Each piece is written by a member of the Rosh Hodesh group of Congregation B'nai Israel.  Tonight's blog is written by Marjorie Freeman, who grew up in a Reform congregation.

As a school girl, I attended - participated in - services every Saturday morning.  All the adult women wore hats, the men were bare-headed, in order to show respect.  I studied Jewish history, the holidays, ethical teachings, and the bible - with more intensity each year.

In my senior year of High School, our class read key portions of the Torah each week, coming together ready to present our own view of the meanings.  After heated discussions, our teacher present the 'official' Reform interpretation, which we sometimes respectfully disagreed with.  But isn't that the Jewish way?

At the end of the year, four of us, two girls and two boys, were chosen to give 'sermonettes' the Friday evening of our graduation ceremony.  It was such an honor to be chosen, but also so scary!  What topic to choose, how to write something worthy of the congregation and the rabbi's attention? How to stand up in front of so many people and speak the words?

Never once did it occur to me to question why two boys and two girls.  We were the top students in the class; it was obvious why we were chosen.  Yet this was 1962 - none of us had ever heard of a bat mitzvah, let alone a woman rabbi.

My sermonette was on the first commandment - everything follows from 'I am the Lord your God.'  All the other commandments, all the ways of righteousness, of helping others, of doing good.  "I am the Lord Your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.'

Now it is for us to do the same for each other, and to worship God together and to be Holy in the sight of our God.

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