Continually opting in to Orthodoxy

There has been a lot of talk online over the past few months about Orthodox Feminism – ranging from how it is not possible, to how oppressed we are, to why we stay Orthodox. The posts on the latter topic seem to come mostly from women who grew up within the structure of Halacha that Orthodoxy provides, and “don’t know what they’re missing” in more liberal streams where egalitarianism reigns along with the thoughts of our oppression.

Well, I know “what I’m missing” and I’m still staying Orthodox.

I grew up Conservative. I loved wearing a kippa and tallit, laying tefillin with the minyan on Sunday mornings before teaching Hebrew School, serving as shaliach tzibur, and leyning. (I was good at leading and leyning too.) I started keeping Shabbat and Kashrut as a Conservative Jew. I started dressing in a tzniut way as a Conservative Jew. I got married and started covering my hair and keeping Taharat HaMishpacha as a Conservative Jew.

And yet, today, I am an Orthodox Jew.

I opted in to Orthodoxy for a variety of reasons, but they were my reasons and they still are. I was not coerced or strong armed in any way. I made a decision based on intellectual honesty and intuition. I am happy in Orthodoxy and do not feel oppressed or held down. In fact, I feel uplifted. I have had more exposure to learning and to text since becoming Orthodox. I have had more meaningful Shabbat and holiday meals, with richer conversations since becoming Orthodox. I engage in more mitzvot in my daily life since becoming Orthodox.

I opt in to Orthodoxy everyday.

So no, I can’t lead the entire service or serve as a witness and I don’t wear my tallit and tefillin anymore, but I still have a fulfilling and meaningful Jewish experience and won’t let anyone attempt to convince me otherwise.

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8 thoughts on “Continually opting in to Orthodoxy

  1. I also didn’t grow up within the halachic structure (I didn’t grow up with anything, really), and I don’t feel oppressed or bitter about my choices within Orthodoxy. I’ve found myself more fulfilled as a woman and more centered within the structure of halacha. I’ve never really understood the drive to fight to have access to men’s roles or ways of service. I feel like I already lived “like a man” (so to speak, in my more liberated days), and it wasn’t satisfying at all. Thanks for this post, it’s giving me some ideas for one of my own. :)

  2. Melissa, I really enjoyed reading this. I’ve been following you for some time and I didn’t know about your religious trajectory. I would love, as I’m sure your other readers would too, to hear more about your reasons. Although I certainly understand if you didn’t want to share them, because it opens you up to attack or criticism. But in any event thank you for writing and for sharing as always.

  3. Pingback: Continually opting in to Orthodoxy | These and Those

  4. חזקי ואמצי
    BTW, I got your regards on Shabbat recently. Todah! I tried to email you, but it bounced. Have a great Pesah!

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