An Orthodox Woman on the Bima

By | Nov 16, 2012

In our November/December issue, Moment columnist Naomi Ragen describes leaving her comfort zone and accepting an aliyah for the first time:

“I admit that at first all offers to hand me a sacred scroll, or to honor me by calling me up to the Torah, were met with an almost panicked refusal. What, me, a mere woman, hold a sacred Torah scroll that I have all my life only seen from a distance?  I might drop it! Or profane it. But then I thought: It’s not heavier than a child, and I’ve never dropped one of those. And what about me was less worthy than the average male shul-goer?

While I gradually became convinced that there was no halachic reason prohibiting my participation—the only reason given by the sages for any prohibition was that it would “dishonor” the congregation, something that certainly isn’t valid anymore—still, I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Years of attending male-dominated synagogue services had atrophied some part of me. It was just too late for me.

“Maybe next year, Anat,” I’d apologize to my daughter-in-law.

“That’s what you say every year,” she’d sigh.

But after years of reading Conversations and meeting with Rabbi Angel, something happened to me this Simchat Torah. For the first time in my life, I accepted an aliyah to the Torah.  As I walked to the bima and saw the Torah scroll spread out, I realized that I had never in my life seen the inside of this most sacred object in Jewish life.”


To read her entire column, click here.


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