A Feminist Aufruf

Thu, 08/29/2013 - 3:39pm -- JOFA


JOFA Board Member Carolyn Hochstadter Dicker reflects on her daughter’s aufruf which was held at a partnership minyan in Lower Merion, PA.

Last Shabbat, my daughter Michal had a joint aufruf with her chatan, Josh, at our local partnership minyan Lechu Neranena.  The service was run by Shifra Vega and Michael Gordan and this was the first time that the minyan held a morning minyan, so everyone here was really excited!  (They generally hold a Friday night minyan every Shabbat Mevarchim Chodesh, and sometimes meet for other celebrations, such as Leil Simchat Torah.) We set up the mechitzah and ran the minyan in the style of Shira Chadasha, using women's names for the aliyot.  In fact, our Lechu Neranna leaders, Shifra and Michael, even went to watch a joint aufruf at Darkhei Noam a few weeks ago to see how it was run!

Michal and Josh's friends and family, both women and men, lained, had aliyotdavened, and gave the d’var Torah.  Adam and I both lained and I was thrilled to be part of that! 

It was incredible to celebrate with family and friends in a minyan and forum that included all of us to the extent that was halachically possible in a way that seemed seamless and "normal".  And I am proud of all the very smart and beautiful women who participated among Michal's friends who attend Barnard, Penn, Princeton, Drexel.  They lained, had aliyot, and one gave the most awesome d’var Torah that I have ever heard!

I was also proud of all the men in the Hochstadter Dicker and Halpern families and Michal's, Josh's and our friends who participated.  The men attend Columbia, Penn, Yale, YU and Drexel.   People were really amazed by how it all seemed so "normal," including people who had never attended a partnership minyan before.  Perhaps, this will motivate them to attend in the future!

WeddingAt the Chupah, we had a woman, Talia Harcsztark, speak in place of the ketuba reading. The ketuba also included my name.  During the ceremony, Michal dispensed with circling Josh and we had women sing sheva brachot at the meal.  I was so pleased to be able to sing my favorite bracha: sameach tesamach, which was gorgeously sung by the assistant rabbi who was at my wedding.

We have to thank JOFA for inspiring us.  This experience was exactly what JOFA aspires to in its mission and inspires us all to do – namely – normalize women's participation in Jewish Orthodox rituals in the same way that it is normal for men.  Interestingly, one of Josh's family members commented that it would have been even more normal and appropriate if women had worn tallitot.  He felt that the idea of tallit was a kvod hazibur concept, and that had women worn them, it would have complimented their participation. (For me, although  I daven three times a day, tallit and tefillin are issues that I am not yet comfortable with.)

All told, my daughter's wedding was a wonderful moment, and it was made all the more more meaningful by including women in the ritual and giving women -- including the kallah -- a voice in the wedding celebrations. Mazel tov to the young couple!


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