Why “Rebbetzin” and Why the Blog

At some point in the last few years, I looked in the mirror and saw myself. Really, myself, for the first time in a very long time (if ever, actually). I concentrated. I squinted. I smiled. I made a few faces that usually make my kids laugh. And I looked. Long and hard. And I saw. Myself.

A while back – a long while back – I had this vision, this idea, that I could really be myself if I began to write under a ‘blog-o-nym’: an assumed identity under which I would be able to reveal my ‘true self’ and write about things I could not speak or write about in my ‘real’ life.

This was a spectacular failure.

While it’s true that almost no one in the whole first year I began blogging figured out who I really was, I found I was still unable to write about the things I thought I could, for fear that the event, situation or relationship that was being described would give me away. I lived in constant worry that I would be discovered, and certain secure things in my life would be put in jeopardy. I would check my stats everyday, tracking down every IP address of every visitor. It became obsessive and ridiculous.

And then there was the issue of my affiliation. If one didn’t know me, and it was likely that the majority of visitors did not (whatever my paranoia), one might think I was affiliated with a particular branch of Judaism (Orthodox, Conservative). Which I am not.

This became a problem, because I did not want to misrepresent myself or lead people to believe I am an authority of some sort. Which, God knows, I am not.

While I never once specifically mentioned affiliation with any of Judaism’s denominations, and I rarely shared my religious opinions, I often wrote about my observance and my role as rebbetzin – my role as my husband’s wife. This may have led some people to believe that I was NOT, in fact, affiliated with a particular branch of Judaism (Reform). Which I am.

This became a complicated line to walk. I got tired of walking it.

So here I am, officially ‘outing’ myself as an observant, religious, Reform Jew and a rabbi’s wife who finds fulfillment in the role of rebbetzin (amongst the other roles I inhabit and find meaningful).

To paraphrase (rather, to butcher) the idea of the philosopher and theologian Neil Gillman, I hope I am just shattering people’s myths all over the place.

The myth that observant/religious Jews are a) all Orthodox, and b) close-minded right-wing misogynist xenophobes.

The myth that Reform Jews are a) all secular, and b) close-minded left-wing anti-Zionist radicals with Christmas trees.

The myth that a rebbetzin is a 93 year old lady who runs around in a housecoat and sheitel saying “oy gevalt” and shoving food at you.

The myth that a Reform rabbi’s wife could never be, or should never be, a rebbetzin.


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