One of the reasons I like social media is that I get to participate in awesome conversations in a variety of different settings about multiple issues.
A friend of mine updated his status today that he recently watched a movie with his wife, called “Mekudeshet”. A bunch of us wanted to know what it was about, and he explained that it followed three women in Israel, who had been refused a Get (Jewish bill of divorce) from their husbands. They had become Agunot (chained women). It took two of them five years to receive their Get, and the third was still waiting.
A very interesting discussion ensued. One of his other friends who had apparently been an agunah replied to his post. One of the things that she mentioned was that there was a case, allegedly, in Israel where a divorced woman went to the secular courts to resolve a child support issue, instead of the Bet Din as was specified in her divorce agreement, and her Get was therefore allegedly nullified, even though she had since remarried.
Now, I thought that the Get was 100% final. From all the experience I have had and all the reading that I have done, there is nothing that even hints that this possibility is remotely existent. There is nothing that I have seen anywhere that allows for this revocation to take place.
Reading this I knew a split second of fear. I thought once you walked out of the room in the Beit Din the whole thing was over. I hadn’t realized that there could be a possibility of it being reopened.
I am so hoping this is an urban myth, but the commenter very strongly stressed that this was true.
I was at the doctor today – follow up to the kidney infection that apparently has now metamorphasized into a kidney stone (got to love our healthcare system). This fellow could see I was a religious Jew – the sheitel, modest dress and the Hebrew necklace that I wear. He started talking to me about the mumps outbreak that seems to have hit a lot of the Jewish schools here. He heard it started at a religious camp in the Catskills and that a lot of the religious kids in Brooklyn are sick with it too. He wanted to know why if there is an outbreak the non-Jewish kids weren’t sick.
He asked me if there were sects of Jews who refuse to vaccinate their children due to religious reasons. I was honestly very surprised at the question, although thinking back, I shouldn’t have been. I explained to him that I highly doubt it. After all we are commanded to look after ourselves – venishmartem et nafshoteichem. If we need blood transfusions or surgery we have to do what we can to ensure our life isn’t in jeopardy. Vaccinating, I believe, falls into the same category. These childhood diseases are easily spread and can be fatal. That’s why most schools that I know of have a legal requirement that all children must be up to date on their vaccinations in order to attend.
But, as I told the doctor, I am not a rabbi or rabbanit and I certainly don’t have the level of knowledge to be able to categorically state that the majority of religious / Chassidic sects vaccinate their children.
Any of my JewCrew have something to contribute?
This article is all about a school district wanting to ban books that are, in their view, controversial. This particular book by the great Maya Angelou details a rape scene and the school board finds it unsuitable for their students. It doesn’t mention whether this is on the high school list or in the high school library or not. This censorship is nothing new to me. For years the books that my kids have been bringing home from school have been censored, albeit on a different scale. A Berenstein Bear book, that has one of the bears on the beach in a bathing suit, has had one of the teachers or staff, take a coloured marker and draw a shirt and skirt on her. Words in these books such as Christmas and Halloween have been blacked out to make them not exist.
I wish my kids would be able to read Maya Angelou’s books in school, I wish they didn’t have to be ashamed to say they read all the Harry Potter books – like a lot of kids in their school. But Harry Potter is about magic, and that’s just not PC in a religious school. My kids have read Twilight – they are not going out and biting people. My oldest reads Ludlum and Clancy – he isn’t out spying on people and blowing them up. He understands that it is just fiction. These books encourage my kids to ask me so many varied questions and have led to some awesome discussions. But don’t tell the school, ok?
How does censoring what they read make them better people? It doesn’t. Reading all different kinds of books as I was growing up helped round out my education. Helped me understand so much about the world that I live in. If I read about a love scene – it didn’t make me want to go out there and re-enact it. If I read about treife food, it didn’t make me want to eat it. It just added to my education.
Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is banned in many religious schools – and it shouldn’t be. Star crossed lovers who have to die to be together. It could be used as a metaphor for so many situations. We could learn that life doesn’t have to be like this in our day and age. In our high school I would have loved to have studied it – every girl loves a good love story, no matter how badly it ends. I am sure we would have all done so much better on our English Lit exams. Instead we learned Coriolanus, of which I remember nothing.
At the meeting referenced in the above article, the “offensive” paragraph was read out. How can you just excerpt one scene from a book that has a much broader scope, a book that is an autobiography of an icon? A book in which, according to Wikipedia , rape is used as a metaphor for the suffering of her race. How can we not use this to teach our kids lessons about history? But their question is do we want our children knowing and reading about rape? It’s not a simple answer. After recent events (the gang rape of a high schooler) I would say that kids need to understand what it is and that it is wrong. How are they going to learn that if no one tells them, if they aren’t exposed to the messages that are sent through literature? Teachers don’t talk about it in class, and parents aren’t listened to. Books are a tremendous way of getting a message across.
We should be encouraging our youngsters to read. Today the young folk are plugged into every device available, they know they latest video games and music, and the idea of opening a book and sitting down to read is anathema to some.
Banning and censorship like this go a long way to turning people away from great works of literature.
Please share your thoughts with me.