Many years ago, I had a wonderful conversation with my dad (he died in 2000) who still to this day is my hero. I struggled with being the “smart, nerdy girl” in school and never being asked out. I asked my dad what kind of guy did I need in my life and he took my question very seriously as he took all my questions to heart.
He looked at me and said — “Amy, you need a man who will love you unconditionally, believe in you without reservation, support you without any question, encourage your intelligence and every so often tell you just shut up.” To this day, I am still looking for this man because Jack Downey was absolutely right because this is what every woman needs in her life — unconditional love, unreserved belief, unquestioned support, affirmation of her intelligence/gifts and a person who will calm her down when she/we go off on our occasional tangents (which we do every so often).
As I have grown into a middle-aged woman, I have also come to realize that my dad’s wisdom was also spiritual in nature because women struggle with this same issue — even and more especially many if not most of the Jewish women I have encountered. Does God love us unconditionally, believe in us without reservation, support us without question, encourage us without question because and especially because we are women?
I was blessed to know the answer was yes because I had a father who modeled “YES” to me. For while he was a Baptist pastor who did not believe in women pastors or deacons (and I don’t either), he affirmed and encouraged me in my missions call and was proud to have a “smart, nerdy daughter.” Jack Downey’s fatherly love for me illustrated to me that God’s love for me is consistent and strong and is not lessened just because I am female and not male.
However, I also remember another event about 15 years ago that tells me that for Jewish women the answer is a great deal more nebulous. I attended a meeting of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance when I was living in New York City in the early 2000s, while feeling as if I was going to be revealed as one of the pod people from Invasion of the Body Snatchers at any moment, and I listened all day to these religious observant Jewish women express one primary lament in one way or another — “Why doesn’t God love women the same as He loves men?”
This sentiment broke my heart. It was all I could to not jump up on my chair and begin singing — “Jesus Loves You, this I know for the Bible tells me/you so.”
These two memories came back to me as I was reading an article entitled “Jewish Priestess Movement Seeks to Reclaim the Divine Feminine.” The focus of the article about the Hebrew Priestess Institute is that there is a small but growing movement among Jewish women to find their place in a religion that they feel ostracized from because of the perception that “God doesn’t love women the same He loves men.”
Here are some of the most interesting statements that I found in this article:
- “It also embraces those ancient Israelite women who worshipped fertility goddesses condemned by the prophets, as well as modern teachings from various Earth-based religions with their healers and ritualists.” (emphasis added)
- “The 10-year-old Hebrew Priestess Institute has so far ordained 40 women with 50 more in training, many of them Jews who have felt alienated from traditional Judaism with its masculine depictions of God as king, father, master, lord.” (emphasis added)
- “‘It’s an antidote to some of the dryness people are experiencing in the Jewish tradition,’ said Rabbi Jill Hammer, co-founder of the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute. ‘Modern Judaism is in deep need of new spiritual resources to inspire people.'” (emphasis added)
- “‘I don’t think I could re-engage Judaism without an open that said I was just as holy as males. My doorway to Judaism to Judaism is understanding that God is as much male and female and neither.” (emphasis added) — Rinah Rachel Galper
I again what to approach these women and sing a simple song that begins with three simple words — JESUS LOVES YOU.
They need to know that Jesus welcomed women to the table. He affirmed Mary and Martha. Women were among the followers who were with him and they were the first to see Him on Resurrection Morning! Paul wrote that there we are all ONE in Messiah Jesus because there is neither male or female in the kingdom. God does love us all the same in Messiah Jesus but they need to be told this simple message instead of chasing after pagan rituals that will lead them to destruction. And, yes, Tzedakah Ministries needs you to be a part of this message. We cannot do it without you because Jesus LOVES YOU as well.