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Monday, March 22, 2010

She Who Dwells Within by Lyn Gottlieb

Rabbi Lyn Gottlieb is a trail blazer back in the 1970’s before it was even heard of she decided to become one of the first if not the first female Rabbi. One of her first instructors was Eli Wiesel. He asked his students to comment on a Jewish Hero. Lyn asked about Jewish women and their minimal roles. She was not happy with the response she received. Since that times women have been making a strong effort to reclaim their place in a male dominated Judaism. In services they are often sidelined to the female section and play no role whatsoever in the prayer service. Effort to change this such as female minyans, prayer groups and mediation circle have all been met with scorn and derision by the male dominated Rabbinote. Many women are tired of having famous female only being spoken of as seducers of men, or their relations to other men. All the prayers have been written by men even the ones for women. This does not meet feminine needs.

This book documents how the bible stole from the ancient religions and dis empowered the women. In the ancient near east women were often priestess, oracle and seers. They were respected by society for their knowledge of herbs and healing. The male dominated religion has taken away their power and made them less then equal.

Tehom in Hebrew means the deep. Tiamat in Babylonian is the mother Goddess who dies in order to make man. She is split in half by her grandson Marduk and her blood mixes with clay in order to create man. In Hebrew God penetrates the Tehom or the deep to create man.

Ancient Israel did in fact worship a hebrew fertility goddess. Her name was Ashira. Later on She was suppressed and much later the Shekina or divine feminine presence would appear. She accompanied the Jewish people into exile. She was in effect a queen without a throne. Women have never been as positively portrayed as men are in the bible. Lilith is seen as a rebel for not submitting to Adam's wishes. For that she is bad mouthed in the bible. Eve gets dissed for tempting Adam to eat from the tree of Knowledge.

This book announces that it is time for the Jewish women to regain her place in Judaism and to help make Judaism an egalitarian religion. She gives several different role that women can play in the community based on what the Torah ha Shekina teaches, or the Torah of the Divine presence.The author has also written prayers and ceremonies for women on special occasions like Bat Mitzvah, becoming old and rosh hodesh. Lyn employs element of Native American spirituality and Wicca into her practice and I think it makes her practice all the better.

She advocates forming groups. The groups should be dedicated to Judaism but also to Tikkun Olam or fixing the world. The author herself is vegetarian and talks a lot about eco kashrut which embraces being kosher as well as compassion to animal and taking care of our environment. She also stresses helping the poor and creates ceremonies to help people to release themselves from Trauma.

Though I am not a feminist I have found this book quite rewarding to read. It is something that I will refer back to many a times. The stress on Tikkun Olam is refreshing since it seems that many in the Jewish community are so focused on money that they have lost their way.

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One blond hair blue eyed Calfornian who totally digs the Middle East.
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