After hearing about my vision for Batsheva, people in the frum community often ask me, "So, are you a feminist?"
I think what they mean is: what differentiates Batsheva's mission from secular feminism?
The answer I give them has a lot to do with the holiday we are celebrating now.
When we recount the story of Chanukah in the "Al Hanissim" prayer, we say that the Greeks rose to power and attempted to make us forget "Your (G-d's) Torah". The Greeks didn't have a problem with Torah per se. They were a cultured, sophisticated people who embraced wisdom and philosophy. Their problem was that the Jews did not see Torah as a philosophy but as a sweet taste of the Divine. The Jews who fought the Greeks, fought to hold onto that spark of transcendence, that unique quality of Torah to bridge the gap between the finite and the infinite, to foster the intimate relationship between the Jew and G-d.
At our Yom Iyun this Sunday, Mrs. Natalie Rice spoke about the idea that oil was a central part of both Jewish and Greek culture. And for both, oil represented wisdom, something deeply valued in their societies. The difference was that for Jews, the process of crushing an olive to get that oil was most significant. For Jews, wisdom was only valuable when preceded by a process of 'crushing' or removing ourselves, to allow for something transcendent, something G-dly, to seep through our minds.
If Torah is an academic study like all other studies, we can argue for equal rights and giving women access to education. But there will always be women who will say, "Why do I need it? I'm not an academic." But Torah is not academia. It is the air that we breathe, the water that quenches our innate thirst for G-d. Every Jew needs Torah, because it is the only way to live a vibrant Jewish life. For a Jewish woman today, studying Torah is not her right, but her duty. As we celebrate the victory of Chanukah, please consider partnering with us as we ignite the flame of Torah inside the heart of every Jewish woman. Click HERE to check out the available sponsorship opportunities and make your contribution to women's Torah learning! Wishing you and your family a Happy Chanukah!