Laura Geller, "Jewish Feminism: Go To Yourself!" The Shalom Center, 17 June 2005.


Original Text:

Lech Lech, go to yourself. Find yourself in the tradition, in the texts of the tradition. But we have to read those texts with new eyes and ask different kinds of questions. And if we do it we find startling images. Different images, not only of human beings, but also of God. The amazing image of God as a nursing mother who takes out her breast to give us Torah, an image of the Shekhina, the feminine presence of God that hovers within us. If we listen for our experience in the stories of our mothers, we read things we never saw before.

But that raises a very important and scary question: What are our texts? Certainly the Torah, the Midrash, the Talmud, the classic texts of the tradition. But if we can't find our experience in these texts written by men for men, we need to discover other cannons, more sacred texts. Our experience as women is part of our sacred cannon. It needs to be studied, valued, commentaries need to be written on the Torah of our experience as women. And if we do this seriously and lovingly, we will ask new questions and find some of the old questions. These questions lead us back into tradition and out again, always dialectic, always moving back recovering, discovering, remembering and if all else fails, inventing.

If you let yourself really think about these questions, I think they bring us to a radical transformation of Jewish life and Jewish institutions. Questions of spirituality that are generated by women's spirituality pose for us an important religious task, really a messianic task, as the task of collecting the sparks of divinity in our own experience, of overcoming dualities in ourselves in God, in the world. If we want to become whole as individuals this is the step that we need to begin to take for ourselves, for each other and for the world in which we live. And if we don't do it now, when?

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Suggested Discussion Questions:

1. How does Laura Geller's writing compare to other feminist writers' suggestions about "inserting ourselves [female narrative] into the text? What does this process consist of?
2. What does it mean to "read things we never saw before?" Can you relate to that experience?
3. How does a traditional Jew "invent?" Can this be reconciled?

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Related Texts:
Related Sourcesheets:Women's Empowerment and Leadership: Biblical Figures and Modern Philosophy

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