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Dear Ms. Chizhik,I - a high-school student - write to you from a community in which your proposals for "real empowerment" have already been implemented.In the Modern Orthodox day schools I have attended all my life, I have been “educated for the sake of education and not simply vocation.” I have been “taught to hold [myself] with dignity and confidence, encouraged to speak and build and succeed, entrusted with the best of secular knowledge, history, literature, sciences, politics.” I am a religious woman who “speaks proper English and Hebrew, and identifie[s] as [a] citizen of a greater society.” I have, because of my education, become “tolerant and unafraid of the outside,” and I “turn to the world with an unwavering confidence in [my] own faith and strength.”I also lay tefillin.The “deeper and more critical” questions you raise are indeed vital to the future of the halakhically observant Jewish community. However, the issue of women’s education and involvement in the wider world is not contradictory or antithetical to the discussion of women’s increased ritual observance. I would argue that the issues are part of the same discourse and process.You critique the way “hordes of bloggers” have skewed the women-and-tefillin (phylacteries) story out of proportion. I think that this issue has gained such prominence because it is an indicator of the direction in which Modern Orthodoxy is moving. I began laying tefillin because of the excellent education I received, an education which you would no doubt endorse: I have been fortunate enough to have access to the skills with which to engage both Jewish ideas and the secular world. The more I learned - in classes with male and female peers – the more I saw a disconnect between the access I was given to religious texts in the classroom and the rituals I was permitted to engage in at synagogue. Continue reading.
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Conservative Synagogue In Westchester County
1666 Pleasantville Road, Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510