Volume 53 Number 34
                    Produced: Sun Dec 24 11:10:13 EST 2006

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

List Priorities (3)
         [Naomi Graetz, Joshua Goldmeier, Jeanette Friedman]
way to go Jeanette!
         [Akiva Miller]


From: Naomi Graetz <graetz@...>
Date: Fri, 22 Dec 2006 17:26:41 GMT
Subject: List Priorities

I'm personally delighted at the introspection going on now about the
list. I am pleased that many women are speaking up. In the past many of
us exchanged personal views about how this list was MALE-Jewish and how
we felt marginalized. As someone who has written about wife-beating and
who had her work (and others) aggressively addressed on this list in the
mid 90's, it is refreshing to see that there is such concern about the
haredi woman who was viciously attacked on the bus in Jerusalem. On the
WTN list we have been discussing this for a while (the original letter
was published there) and the outrage was unanimous--no hesitation
whatsoever of support and a need for action and publicity. As to the
volume of letters being written. I'm delighted that there are less
issues, for I actually get a chance to read them and what does not
interest me, I don't bother to or delete. I get the digest and so I save
the issues that look interesting. If I got them individually I might not
even bother to look at those that deal with minutea (sp?), and since
halachic details are definitely a part of our tradition, we should be
aware of them as well as the big issues. As someone on sabbatical now in
Northridge CA it is interesting to see what is going on during the
Christmas season and I am glad that I did not have to worry about its
influence on my children when they were growing up. In NYC, where I was
raised in the 40's-60's and in the day-school/hebrew speaking camp
environment that I attended, we were always amused by the christmas
season and enjoyed the decorations, carols, parades and trees--but it
was clear to us that this was their holiday and the creches etc. was
clearly not serious business for us. In fact, I only realized that the
carols were religious songs when I came back to the states on a
sabbatical in the 90's and attended a christmas end of the season on
campus and realized that these nice melodies were actually about Jesus
being the saviour of "us all" and I was in shock. I guess I had been in
Israel too long. So I sympathise with anonymous whose postings and
concerns I have enjoyed over the years (I actually thought he was a
she). That's enough for now; I just want to add that I am a great
admirer of Jeanette's activism and hope that she organizes
something. Hag urim sameach, shabbat shalom and Hodesh tov. Naomi Graetz

Naomi Graetz
Ben Gurion University of the Negev

From: Joshua Goldmeier <Josh@...>
Date: Thu, 21 Dec 2006 09:11:49 -0600
Subject: Re: List Priorities

to anon:

I can only apologize for myself, and so I do apologize for the
insensitive responses you received to various issues you faced.  The pat
response of "change your sit." is not only insensitive, but throughout
halacha we find that it is the wrong response.  Any and every psak could
be answered that way and move on.  Obviously many times we are not able
to just pick-up and change and that's why there are volumes of mishneh
berurah and shulchan aruch guiding us towards more practical answers.
While there may be times one has to change, most of the time there are
better solutions.

There are many of us on this list and various blogs that are "frum" yet
have a more halachic based practical approach towards problem solving.
If I could have answered you better at the time you needed but didn't, I
apologize for my indifference.  Through my years of MJ and my own
growing up, I am more participatory than I was.  I am not great with
dikduk, although it has helped my laining with info from here.  I am not
a rabbi and do not pasken for anyone other than myself, but there is
advice or leads that can be given to find more practical halachic
answers to problems.

gut chodesh and happy chanukah

Shaya Goldmeier

> From: Anonymous
> I read Jeanette Freeman's post with great interest and, while I don't
> agree with everything she says, she does allude to many things that have
> been (and I am having a hard time finding the right word here, so please
> forgive me)--disturbing me?  worrying me?  making me
> uncomfortable?--about this list.
> I used to be, if not a frequent contributor to this list, at least a
> moderately-regular one.  But over time my participation has dropped to
> zero.  Partly this has to do with what Jeanette alludes to--the
> seemingly-constant focus on halachic minutae.  While discussing the
> details, the daily ins-and-outs of halacha is of course important, these
> discussions in my view often devolve into an implied game of "more
> observant than thou," if you see what I mean.  And I for one am more
> interested in the "big picture" than the minutae.
> ....
> Just one person's voice, of course.

From: <FriedmanJ@...> (Jeanette Friedman)
Date: Fri, 22 Dec 2006 06:31:51 EST
Subject: Re: List Priorities

I thank everyone on the list who supports me in my quest for jewish

it has been impossible over the past ten years to get any resolution on
the agunah issue, though women were promised this from the time they
began to realize how terrible the situation actually is. I learned from
my dead gay friends that silence equals death, and I know some agunot
have tried to commit suicide...some succeeded, some did not. So, for me,
who tried to get out of my agunah situation at 22 by swallowing a bottle
of pills, it is a burning issue of pikuach nefesh. That was almost 40
years ago. Ask yourself how many sudden deaths were caused by this
problem since then...we will never know, but I personally know of three

last night someone asked me what I thought a rally would accomplish. I
think it should accomplish the same thing as the NK appearance at
Teheran. There, the appearance woke up the rest of the Jewish world to
show that action needs to be taken on issues before it's too late. If all
the women get together, (and yes, you can create a mechitza if you have
to, and ain't nobody gonna be singing, trust me so kol isha isn't a
problem--unless now you are saying that we have reached the chumra that
men aren't even permitted to hear a woman SPEAK????????) the men would
have to notice that the women are very unhappy and force them to change.

Anon. talks about the need to motivate the rabbis. One rabbi told me that
the only way to make changes is via the balabatim. Well, if it's via the
balabatim, those are the men, the husbands. And if those are the husbands
of the women, then how do you get THEM to be motivated to motivate the

Well, first of all, I thought where could we have such a rally and see if
anyone shows up? OK, NY. Would I want it, like Batya suggested in Israel?
YOU BET. If we could do these rallies all over the world for women on the
same day, it would be gevaldik.  But I am one person with an idea. and
from the reaction to this idea, I see some support, but not enough for me
to pull it off alone. Because this isn't about me. It's about the Jewish

Some men have said to me rally schmally, what you need is a Mikvah
strike, that would work. Well, yes, it might, but

I would not advocate that. Because of one simple reason. That too, is
pikuach nefesh, and therefore I can't put a woman in a situation where
her husband is going to beat her within a inch of her life because he
isn't getting what he wants when he wants it.

(BTW, when I did the Zev Brenner show a few years ago, and we took phone
calls, one woman from Crown Heights called in, said she was a counselor,
and that one of the biggest problems were the rebbaim who taught the
bachurim that if your wife doesn't want to give you want you want when
you want it, you have the right to take it--which is my definition of
rape. So we can start right there...if you have sons and you tell them
about the birds and bees, tell them that no matter what their rebbes tell
WITHOUT HER PERMISSION. While you are at it, you can teach your own
children to keep their hands to themselves--hitting is no longer an
option, even if your rebbes do it to you.)

So if you can't have a rally because of KOL ISHA, and the rabbis won't
budge from cowardice, and no one on the list wants to talk up the issues,
and no one wants to do anything.....what's next?

What do you want us to do?  There are people on this list who are
teachers and even school administrators, there are people on this list
who serve as dayanim, and who sit and learn. And when it comes to these
issues, they do NOTHING.

What would it take to make them mad enough not to take it anymore? What
would it take to do tikkun olam?

It is amazing how I get knocked because I don't have the solution. I do
have the solution, but no one wants to implement it. they are hung up on
stuff that is less important than pikuach nefesh and refuse to recognize
that the basic issue on abuse--whether it's wife battering, child abuse,
sexual abuse or the agunah issue--people are dying from it, and it's
being covered up.

The solution? Grant the gets and get over the minutiae. The bottom line
is pikuach nefesh...and is the same reason you absolutely do not leave
the crying baby in street on shabbos, no matter what chumrah you want to
believe in. You pick up the baby and carry it home.


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Thu, 21 Dec 2006 13:37:34 GMT
Subject: Re: way to go Jeanette!

Shani Thon asked:
> There have been posts about spousal and child abuse in the Jewish
> community, but what is the likelihood that any male member of this
> list has said "enough" of this in my community/the Jewish community as
> a whole and done something positive about it?

Well, I am male, and I am a member of this list.

And I have not stood up publicly to say "Enough of this in my
community!", nor have I done anything about it.

The reason is because I have not seen any spousal or child abuse.

I do not deny that it exists. I'm only saying that if it does exist, I'm
unaware of it. If anyone can point me to some resources which will show
me what to look for, I'd appreciate it. (Just keep in mind that I am
neither a physician nor a mikveh lady, so it is unlikely for me to ever
see any deliberately-hidden injuries.)

Akiva Miller


End of Volume 53 Issue 34