Monday, March 09, 2009


Had to set someone straight on the facts of history. Wasn't pretty. Started like this: New guy in shul was of the opinion that our shul's second reading of Parsahas Zachor for women was a travesty, and a step down the slippery slide to Reform. What follows is his argument, briefly summarized:

(1) I never saw such a thing when I was kid!
(2) In Europe, they never did it!
(3) Not only that, but in Europe women never went to shul!

I wasn't there for his childhood, and I confess to being ignorant about European Parshas Zachor practices, but I did have something to say about Point 3. I sidled over to the man, and calmly said: "If European women never went to shul, what was the Zogerin?"

The Zoga-what?

The Zogerin. She was a learned woman who sat in the front of the women's section. She read certain prayers out loud so that illiterate women, or those without prayer books could repeat then lines after her.

Maybe in Western Europe, or Berlin is where they had...

No, no. Eastern Europe. In the shtetles.

I can't imagine such a thing!

Well, I can't imagine people dragging in goats to be slaughtered as a form of worship. Doesn't mean it wasn't done.

At this point, my interloper revealed his true objection."The [certain Hasidic Rebbe] says it's not respectful to the Torah to take it out just to read to women," he said.

Oh really? I don't like to waste time with sexist morons, especially sexist morons who believe their sexism is incontrovertibly true, so after gently pointing out that our shul is not Hasidic, I terminated the conversation and continued on my way.

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