Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Book: On Women & Judaism by Blu Greenberg

First things first. My second weigh in was last night, and I lost another 3 1/2 pounds, bringing my two week total up to 11 1/2. :)

Now, on to the book.

I've been working through this book since the middle of December, and I just don't know what to say about it. I have two books by this author, this one and How to Run a Traditional Jewish Household. I'm not sure which one I got first, but I haven't read the other one yet.

This book is a collection of previously written essays on the need/attempt to mesh the feminist ideals with living an Orthodox Jewish life. For the most part, it's just an interesting book. I do get the impression, though, that the author sort of wants to have her cake and eat it too. She wants women to be able to do all the things that men can do, while still being traditional women. I'm not saying it's a bad thing, or impossible, but it just strikes me as wanting all the best of both worlds, without admitting that you're going to inherit some of the problems as well. Some of the things, like women needing to be able to request a divorce, in accordance with the halakhic law, make perfect sense. Others, the rights of women to study Torah, to be called up to read it, etc. are perhaps a matter of taste. She does make the point that the law, in relation to women, has always been a living thing, growing and reflecting the larger society around the Jewish people.

The one chapter that I just didn't agree with anything was the chapter on the 'right' of women to abortion.

*sigh* Like I said, I'm really not sure what to say about the book. I enjoyed reading it, but *raises hands* Meh.

So, my next book is God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens. I've started the first chapter, and I can say, I remember getting this book when it first came out, so excited about it (I was in a semi-atheist phase) and loving it so much. Now, when he's going on and on about how much more wonderful nature is than the cathedrals, etc. All I can think is, well, no duh. Nature was created by God, and is therefore always going to be far more magnificent than anything humans can create. And when he's nattering on about the random perfection of the human genome, I sort of laughed. Since when did chaos breed order and perfection?


  1. This Jewish book sounds interesting but yeah she seems like she wants it all.

    Funny, I'm reading "No god but God" lol

  2. Wow, seems like some great reads. Please keep us posted on your thoughts concerning the one you are reading now. Yeah, how do we compare mere buildings -- even pretty ones -- with God's glorious creation!?! We cannot!

    Re: abortion - I can understand women wanting to have freedom over their bodies and such. But I can't dismiss the fact that an abortion takes another life. So it's not merely one's own body, but another one's body as well. *sigh*

    Thanks for sharing this and congrats on the weight loss!

  3. LK,

    It was a good book. I just don't feel like I learned or grew from it, which is why I feel sort of 'meh' about it I think.

  4. Susanne,

    They're interesting, I'll give you that.

    Yeah, I know. It was sort of a 'huh'? moment. Why does this comparison not strike him as odd?

    The thing about abortion is, it's a *person* and since any point in time where you say, today the baby is not a person, but tomorrow it is, is just arbitrary, so I feel it must be treated as a person from the very beginning. We have no right to take the life of an innocent person. Now, I know people who say, well what about when the mothers life is in danger? I'd say, it must be taken on a case by case basis. I've tried to put myself, mentally, in that position, and frankly, anything that is likely to kill me is likely to also kill the baby, so the question becomes, one death or two? But then, a friend of mine, one of her cousins was born because her mother refused to take the chemo that might have saver her, but would definitely have killed her baby. By the time the cousin was born, the cancer was too far spread and her mother died. But she chose her babies life over her own. *sigh* It's a hard question, despite the feeling that we should be able to be utterly black and white about it.

    My problem with her view is that she feels the halakhic law should be expanded from what it is now, which is apparently the allowance for abortion for the health of the mother, to include her 'mental health' - her ability to raise the child, the financial stress, the family planning aspects, etc. to allow for more abortions. She would also want it to include the fact that parents could abort 'deformed' children, in view of their quality of life likely being poor if they're born.


  5. hi there .. wobbly here...

    Othodox Judaism is indeed an interesting topic... this writer, Rivkah Lubitch - she writes (not enough)for the Jewish World has a couple of articles, covering the hoops ladies have to go through re: divorce and in specifics - trying to get a 'Get' - can be difficult,especially if ones husband is already deceased..

    Anyways the other thing which may be of interest is from Judaism 101 (viewing from an Othodox Judaic perspective) on the topic of Kosher Sex...


    I would suggest that ANYTHING by the simple super Wendy Beckett is MUST on your reading list



  6. Congrats on your further weight loss - that's great progress!

    The book sounds interesting, but quite biased towards her own views maybe?

    You are brave to read "God is not great". I am afraid to read books like that incase it wipes out what's left of my faith, lol. My mum read it (who is very anti-religion) and loved it, of course. I look forward to hearing what you make of it!

  7. Ahavah,

    Ah, thanks. I'll look into those. I'm always looking for more reading material, you know. :)

  8. Sarah,

    Thanks. I was quite pleased with it. As my friend says, 'that's almost 15!' :)

    It's definitely biased towards her views, especially considering they were written as individual articles before compilation. But she does make the caveat at the end that nothing she says is necessarily right or set in stone in her own mind. She's open to changing her opinion as information comes forward. And this was published in 1981, so I'd be curious to see what she thinks now, but I haven't been able to find an 'update' from her anywhere.

    To be honest, I finished it already and I'm not sure I'm going to post about it. Mostly because I came away unimpressed with him. It's not so much even a thoughtful book about what religion does 'wrong', as a series of short chapters about how all the evil in the world comes from religion, religious people are morons, and look, isn't he smart for figuring out that there is no God. (Him and all the other atheists of course.) Whatever.

    I do find it funny he complains that the religious just won't leave them alone, but on the other side, the religious see the atheists as attacking them, and eroding our ability to worship and speak our faith in public.


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