As I have mentioned here before, I am privileged to be a mentor to a few phenomenal young women. (Hi ladies! I love you!) These young women are on a mission to grow both as modern women and religious jews – and I am lucky enough to help them discuss where these coincide.
Over the past few weeks I have had some particularly powerful conversations with some of them, really delving into the issues at hand and how they play out in their lives. Each has a different story, but the underlying message is the same: how does a young, intelligent, modern woman find a meaningful place in religious Judaism. While I hope someday to have a great answer, in the interim it leads to a lot of conversations, research, and personal growth for all of us. The big picture of this is not the point of this post though, that is for another day – what I want to share today is about the mentorship which I have gotten myself from these ladies.
Every time they approach me with a question or to share their newest experiences and challenges, it gives me an opportunity for growth as well. I had the joy of walking to taslich with one of these fine young women, and getting to hear about her recent trip to Israel and the effects which it had on her. As someone who in the past year or so has become Shomer Shabbat and Shomer Kashrut, she is in a particularly interesting period of growth – really trying to find meaning as she embarks on her newly religious life. Listening to her share her experiences was very inspiring for me, and reminded me of why I have become the person I have. It is difficlt to be a Jewish feminist in a world where that seems to mean hair covering is bad but wearing a kippah is good and mikvah is bad but leyning is good.
My relationship with these women has given me such a wonderful opportunity to talk through these issues and find comraderie. It has shown me the value of having a balanced person to talk to about the struggles of being a religious Jewish woman in modernity. It has given me a place to find my passion in life. I hope to one day create a venue through which I can continue this sort of mentorship with more young women trying to find their place and to keep learning and growing myself so I can truly grasp the full spectrum of the experience, and someday the laws.