It's so simple to be wise.  Just think of something stupid to say, and then don't say it.     Sam Levenson (1911-1980)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

We Already Do (and You're Welcome to Join Us!)

I just wanted to weigh in with SuperRaizy, and so many others (she lists some), regarding women's participation on Simhat Torah.  

In our community (as in RivkA's), which shall remain nameless to protect the fully involved, women dance with a sefer Torah.  This year I had the privilege of dancing with sefer Torah in front while carrying Blondini Boy on my back, an experience I hope he'll never forget.

Following the hakafot (dancing with the Torah), we have a community kiddush, complete with a reproduction of the beit hamikdash constructed from cake and candies by the kids of the community.   

Then, in parallel to the regular Torah reading in the beit haknesset (synagogue), women who choose to participate, meet in the garden of a private home for a women's reading of Parashat v'Zot haBracha.  When we finish we return to the main reading for the children's aliyah (again, refer to RivkA's post -- only we certainly remembered the candy this year, and way too much of it if you ask me) and all the rest.

Then we have a community picnic / barbeque in the park next to the beit haknesset for some excellent, jointly prepared food.  What a wonderful way to share the cooking on the last day of a slew of holidays!

It's not without its complications... The sefer Torah we women take for the hakafot is the only one of three that we use, since its donors do not mind that women dance with it or read from it.  The  donors of the other two sifrei Torah disapprove of the idea and we honor their request.  Also, both of the retired rabbis in our community do not approve of the women's reading, and have voiced their disapproval, but not in the form of psaq halacha.  

(Addendum, 28 Oct:  Please see this post which corrects an inaccuracy).

It took many years for these customs to become status quo around here, but now they are. The girls (and boys)  of our community will certainly grow up thinking it's the status quo. Call it Facts on the Ground...?

Keep the balance,



Risa said...

It sounds like a lovely way to celebrate.
When the women do the v'Zot haBracha reading, do they use the same brachot that the men do?

Baila said...

Now that sounds like a great community to live in!

Lady-Light said...

I was also privileged to do hakafot in a women's minyan: we sang the "atah horeta la-da'at" and I led several hakafot (the Hebrew verses), and also sang "mi-pi'el" and "ha-aderet veha-emunah." I think I must have been a yeshiva bachur in a previous gilgul.
Btw, if you are still searching for sukkah pics for JPics, I posted some of mine for the JPhoto Carnival.

Lady-Light said...

Forgot to send you the link for JPix (the Blog Carnival server is down), so here it is:

muse said...

Some years we've ahd a Sefer Torah to dance with and others not. It just depends on asking. This year, I didn't notice too many women dancing at all. My knees aren't what they used to be. The Ezrat Nashim is small and the side room was being used to set up the kiddush.
Honestly, I'm not attracted to trying to do what the men do and feel that our dancing and singing for the "shut-ins" is so important. One even decided to get dressed and join us. This year, all of those we visited were immigrant women living alone, and we made their holiday for them.

SuperRaizy said...

I'm glad that your community is finding ways to involve women and girls more.
Thanks for the link!

A Living Nadneyda said...

Risa -- We use the same opening bracha but without the "barchu" part, and the usual closing bracha as well. We are called up using our names "bat [father] v'[mother], which is nice too.

Baila -- It is, but for many additional reasons as well. We have a new building site going up soon -- come join us!

LL -- That was one difficulty this year (as in previous years). When the women started a song, the men didn't always pay attention and started singing their own song instead. It was frustrating.

Muse - Dancing with the "shut-ins" is definitely a fantastic mitzvah. I wouldn't want to choose between the two options, though; I don't see them as mutually exclusive. When we lived in Jerusalem, we -- men and women -- used to do a couple of our hakafot in a small old-age home down the street from our beit knesset. It was always a real highlight of the day.

SR -- So am I, especially for the girls' sakes.