In with the men at last

November 20, 2007

Six hours into my flight from Tel Aviv to New York, the Pilot asks over the PA if there is a doctor on board. As this is El Al, a large proportion of passengers make their way the cockpit. The pilot should have just been more specific and asked for a cardiologist!

We have to make an emergency landing as a passenger needs immediate hospitalization. This delay will add two extra hours onto our twelve hour flight.

Once on the ground, the Hassidim from Williamsburg and Crown Heights organize a minyan. Since we are not in flight, they do not need to congregate at the back of the plane. Instead they take to opportunity to stand in the aisles the full length of the aircraft.

I stand up by my seat, stretch my arms above my head and roll my shoulders, trying to put the patient’s needs over my own frustration at the wait.

All those years of longing to be part of the men’s minyan, peering over the mechitzah or down from the ladies gallery at the action on the other side of the fence, are over. I am sandwiched in between two elderly rabbis with long white beards, swinging sidelocks and long silk caftans who have begun davening Mincha.

Passengers are taking photos of this unusual event, nudging and winking at each other, but I am in my element, answering Amen and Baruch Shmo to all their prayers.


Another Inconvenient Truth

October 26, 2007

Welcome to my very first blog.

First of all, I would like to thank all the people who wrote me such wonderful letters about my book The Rabbi’s Daughter.

On the other hand, London rabbis have preached from their pulpits advising congregants not to buy it.

I sympathize with those rabbis. After all, they have read the sensationalist press. They have seen the words ‘sex’ and ‘drugs’ and ‘orthodoxy’ slashed over the newspapers. They want to protect the memory of my dear father and the reputation of United Synagogue. They fear the book and its content. But I believe, before they dismiss my book and censor my right to free speech, they should read the book.

What they will find is a woman struggling to come to terms with herself, her sexuality, her religion, her own values and beliefs and finding a deeper and more truthful love and respect for the teachings of the Torah and respect for her family.

But unfortunately they have not been brave enough to do so. Their reaction saddens me as it is a direct violation of the Torah maxim ‘Ve’eveh dan et kol adam l’kav schut’ (Ethics of the Fathers 1:6)—Judge each and every person favourably.

Yes, there is uncomfortable reading in the book that portrays my difficult and self-destructive journey, but The Rabbi’s Daughter has a lot to offer in bringing Torah in a palatable form to the masses, and will bring hope and strength to those who have hit rock-bottom in their lives and help them struggle to overcome… surely this is what Judaism is all about?

By banning my book, not only have the rabbis helped promote book sales, as the forbidden is always sought after, but they have discarded their own values in their desperate quest to keep sweeping inconvenient truths under the carpet.

With this new blog I encourage you to comment and discuss issues pertaining to the book. I look forward to having an open dialogue about the controversies it generates and the reactions to it.

To make a comment on any blog post (entry), simply click on the word “Comment/s” under each post to open a field when you can type in your thoughts.