We were so proud of Viva Rose on her Bat Mitzvah this weekend. She led the Hebrew prayers, then sang the Torah portion, and gave a speech. It was one of those Torah portions that highlights the worst of the ancient texts and the Orthodox who still adhere to them as eternal truths. Viva's chapter dealt with the impurities of women during their menstrual cycle and after they give birth. According to the bible verses when women gave birth to a girl they had a double-shot of impurity and and had to bring a bigger sacrifice to the priests. Viva spoke out forcefully against those old standards and drew parallels to how women were forbidden from holding prayer minyans at the Western Wall until recently after much struggle and after a Supreme Court decision initially upheld the Orthodox restrictions.
It makes me wonder how long Viva will stick with a religion that has such sexism and intolerance built into its sacred texts - still read out in synagogues today. I remember my own decision to walk away over 40 years ago after struggling with it during my years in a Yeshiva high school (seminary).
On the other hand the Reform service had a lot of beautiful prayers and songs, led by a very dynamic, high energy Rabbi and cantor - both women. The congregation imparted a sense of community and acceptance. Indeed, Viva is the child of two Moms and the other Bat Mitzvah girl (it was a double Bat Mitzvah) was the daughter of an Asian Mom and Jewish born Dad. The congregation demonstrates that it's possible to make a meaningful service and sustain a loving, spiritual community, even while acknowledging dated, flawed texts. It doesn't have to be all or nothing as the Orthodox would have it as well as many of us "Orthodox refugees."