13 years old

10 October 2013

By Barb Shulman, October 2013

As a Ramah-nick in the late 60s-early 70s, I was an impressionable adolescent right at the birth of the re-examination of our roles as women, Americans, and Jews. Thus, I was taught in Ramah to leyn (read) Torah, haftorah, achah, etc. but not allowed, at least initially, to actually use the skill. At home in my Conservative synagogue, the rabbi, an older but somewhat remote gentleman, wanted to allow me full participation for the purposes of my upcoming Bat Mitzvah. However the “ritual committee” (remember those days?) would have none of it. My parents, especially my mom, made a heartfelt plea — and I gently recall them being “mad as hell” when the committee wouldn’t move.

So they changed synagogues to one that would.

The fact that another synagogue, and then all Conservative synagogues and Ramah, ultimately promoted egalitarianism forged an unbreakable bond between me and Judaism, even through the years when I was too busy to attend services or otherwise participate.

And the fact that my parents changed synagogues, for me — well, I considered that remarkable at the time, and 40+years later, I still consider that a bond between my late father and my more-feminist-than-ever mother and me that held through the adolescent angst years and the many moons since.

Barb Shulman is an attorney in NYC.


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