So, the owner of "Converts to Orthodox Judaism Support Group" http://www.facebook.com/inbox/?ref=mb#/group.php?gid=102008685692
has asked me to write something about women and Judaism. Oy! Here goes...
When I first started my conversion, I tried to study this. As a woman, I wanted to find my place as a future Jewish woman. I started by reading, "Jewish and Female" by Susan Schneider... I found it to be too far to the left. I was give a free "Lilith" magazine. This was also too far to the left. So, then I read, Lisa Aiken's, "To Be a Jewish Woman" which I found to be too far to the right for me.
Coming into the world of Judaism is, I think, much harder for a woman than it is for a man. There are more things that a Jewish man does, however, the life of a Jewish man is more structured. Coming into one's own as a Jewish woman when you are converting in is particularly trying. There is no one to ask questions of. Perhaps you find a woman to as... only she is not in your community. Often I needed desperately to know, "do women do this?" it starts at that time but, "when do women come?" Furthermore, most of the women where I was, either didn't even know where they were in a siddur and they could not follow the service or they wanted that badly not to tell me. Another frustration is that there often are not siddurim in the women's section.
There is this big pressure on the modern Jewish woman that she should be able to support the family so that her husband does not work but learns Torah all day. I have strong feelings against this which I have blogged about.
Personally, I accepted the notion that women don't do anything. I say, "instead of seeing the 'women can't,' I embrace the 'women don't have to.'"