Is it such a good thing?
It’s not a good sign when a group of people have to have their own day. It usually means they’re treated badly the rest of the year but to make up for it they are “given” a day of their own.
On that special day all the injustices and hardships felt by them are aired and discussed in the media …… and then forgotten by the following day, which makes a mockery of the whole idea.
For this reason, these days have no place in Jewish custom. For example, there is no Mother’s Day in the Jewish calendar, because mothers should be treated with respect every day of the year – it’s one of the Ten Commandments.
I’ve always found it ironic that Jewish feminists have ‘decided’ that ultra-orthodox women are unhappy, downtrodden, inferior beings who lead a miserable existence, governed by their fathers, husbands and/or rabbis with ne’er an intelligent thought for themselves. They are not allowed to read from the Torah, put on tefillin or count as part of a minyan. They are ‘forced’ to have large families and relegated to a separate part of the shul .
Well, surprise, surprise, but I don’t know any ultra-orthodox women who feel like that. It seems to me that those who voice the above ‘complaints’ are painfully unaware of the respect in Judaism given to the Jewish wife and mother. She plays the central role in the home, in the education of the next generation and is often the breadwinner in the family.
Feminists, it would appear, have a knee-jerk reaction in wanting to do anything that is perceived as ‘forbidden’. There are many mitzvot which women can perform, but I have a strong suspicion that these don’t interest the above ladies.
If they had more self-respect for themselves and their role as women and as individuals they probably wouldn’t be so desperate to be allowed to take part in rituals which for religious/practical reasons have never been part of a Jewish woman’s daily routine.
Self-respect and self-confidence are the keys to living a fulfilled life. Continually looking for things to be disgruntled and annoyed over will, in my opinion, only lead to a negative image and discontented outlook.
Ultra-orthodox girls usually leave school ( which continues for an extra 2 to 3 years of further education ) well qualified to join the work-force in a variety of interesting and much needed professions from architects to educators.
Before getting married both the grooms and the brides take pre-marital courses which don’t just teach the halachot ( laws) pertaining to Jewish married life but also place tremendous emphasis on shalom- bayit (marital harmony) i.e. treating each other with respect . Discussing peacefully, avoiding fights, respecting each other’s opinion, coming to a compromise – all these important aspects of sharing your life with someone else are discussed in depth. The emphasis is placed on giving not demanding, looking for way to make your partner happy – not insisting on your own rights privileges.
I can see the fruits of these lessons in my own children’s harmonious relationships with their spouses.
Men and women are equal, but different – each with their own role in the home, in the family, in society and in spiritual life .
Hopefully there will come a day when we won’t need a special International Women’s Day – when women all over the world will be treated with equality and respect at home and in society.
But I believe this will come through education within society and not through any artificially organized days on the calendar.