Our closer for Orthodox week is Rebbetzin Ruchi Koval, who, together with her husband Rabbi Sruly Koval, serves the awesome JFX community here in CLE. Rebbetzin Koval, amongst her many other teaching and JFX responsibilities, is the author of Out of the Ortho Box, a blog whose mission is to “unite us through education, respect, and understanding.” She has made a difference in the lives of so many people, and I am proud to call her my friend.
[I will remind everyone: I expect nothing less than respectful, productive discourse. No sarcasm, slamming, bashing, snark, or “They don’t like me anyway *snif*” comments or you’re outta here. Have a question about or take issue with what they’ve written? Ask or say so! Tell us how you feel! Share your opinions! Feel strongly! Write firmly! But don’t be nasty and no personal attacks.
Remember, this is “5 Things I’d Like You to Know,” NOT “5 Things I Think You Should Believe/Do.” Just their 2 cents, and stuff they want you to know about the life they live. And stuff I think you should know about the life they live. Gotta make an effort to understand each other in my opinion. Unity and Understanding start with “U”. As in YOU.]
1. My boss is not my rabbi, my parents, or my husband. My boss is God. Rabbis can’t allow or disallow anything; I have free will. The only one I am answerable to in my behaviors is God.
2. While it may seem that Orthodoxy is characterized by a lot of restrictions (and it is), it is mostly characterized by intense meaningfulness. The restrictions are an outer manifestation, but it’s the inner purpose that gives me joy and fulfillment each day of my life.
3. Orthodoxy by definition means community. You’re not driving on Shabbat so the odds are way up there that you’re living within a one-mile radius of lots of other Orthodox folks, so you can all comfortably walk to shul. This. Is. Awesome. It means my kids can run outside and ride bikes with friends, start a casual game of driveway basketball, or run through the neighbor’s sprinkler. It means the folks on my block bring me dinner when I have a baby or go out of town.
4. As an Orthodox Jewish woman, I have never felt misunderstood, ignored, devalued or underrepresented. I feel that based on the rich educational opportunities I’ve been afforded, and indeed, are axiomatic in Orthodoxy, I’ve been actually given more opportunities for religious expression than I even have time for.
5. Orthodox people take Jewish law very seriously because they understand it to be the literal word of God. When others seem to treat it cavalierly, it hurts. Conversely, every Jew is viewed as a brother and sister, no matter what his/her observance. These two bookends of belief can often contradict or conflict with one another, and we strive mightily to figure it out. When we fail or falter, please understand that we’re trying.