Many women (and men) have the tradition of reading Tehillim every day, week, or month as an avenue of prayer. Tehillim in its essence is an anthology of poetry of the Jewish experience written by spiritual leaders- notably, King David, b’nei Korach, Moshe Rabbeinu. Of the 150 perakim, we believe women have written none of them. Jewish poetry is mainly published by male authors, but our philosophy of prayer is based on the actions of women. We often speak about a woman’s heightened spirituality, yet her voice gets lost. I find it odd that women’s experiences of Jewish life have never been a central part of our spiritual lexicon.
The life of a Jewish woman is complicated: we straddle the intersection of the expectations of being a modern woman while trying to embrace our faith and heritage. While conversations around the Jewish female experience are changing in many communities, it is still difficult to carve out a space for ourselves that feels authentic and meaningful, whether it is in the modern world or the Jewish world (at least in my experience!).
Monologues from the Makom, inspired by the Vagina Monologues, started as an event for women only to perform their words in front of an all female audience. I distinctly remember being invited all those years ago and not being able to attend, for one reason or another, and hearing the whispers in my community for the next few weeks. That was liberating…important…disturbing…has to happen again. And it did. Once I was capable of going, I saw that it really was most of those things. I had the pleasure of performing a piece I wrote- called What No One Tells You About Getting Married at 19, and got to watch friends and strangers alike speak their truths. While this year we certainly haven’t had the opportunity to absorb each other’s spiritual energies in person, the published book- Monologues from the Makom- certainly does that. It fills a space in my soul as a Jewish woman that reminds me of the connection I have with Jewish women everywhere.
I urge you to read this book: not necessarily to “agree” with each woman’s perspective, but to help understand the complexities of a Jewish woman’s life. Absorb the frustration, the joy, the confusion, the uncertainty, the confidence of women and see your actions through the eyes of many others. Take the opportunity to slip into another’s shoes, realize they don’t fit, and put on your own and keep walking. We all carry a story in our soles and have the ability to help one another move forward.