By Allison Sherwat Cooper, October 2013
I was given a gift by the Jewish female pioneers (and their equally important male supporters) before me. As a child raised in the 1980s in an egalitarian, progressive, reform temple in Washington, DC, it was a given that I would become a bat mitzvah, stand on the bimah during the high holidays and chant the Jonah portion, and have numerous female presidents lead our temple. My mom was the matriarch of our Jewish education and life in our home. Therefore to me, being Jewish is synonymous with reaching your potential as a woman.
Of course, it wasn’t a given. It was earned the very, very hard way.
The temple I now belong to in Norfolk, VA has a wonderful female rabbi who married me and my husband and performed the baby naming ceremonies for my sons. As important as it was for me as a young girl to know no bounds, as a mom, I now proudly own the responsibility of teaching my sons about the important, equally valuable role women play in all aspects of their lives, especially their Jewish lives.
I thank the Women of the Wall for making the following possible: In the past year, I took my three year old son to a Bar Mitzvah at a different synagogue and pointed to their rabbi on the bimah. My son wrinkled his forehead and skeptically challenged, “He’s not a rabbi. He’s a boy!” Times have changed, Women of the Wall, because of you.