Wanna know a secret? The name on my birth certificate is vastly different from the name people call me, and I hate it. Growing up, each time I needed to fill out some legal form, I would complain to my mother why she gave me this legal name at all. Why didn't she just make my Hebrew name, which I go by, my legal name? Plenty of my friends had legal names that matched their everyday-names. Her response? "If you ever want to become president, you will need an English legal name." Huh.
While I was raised in a traditional Orthodox household, I never felt that my career path was limited due to the fact that I was female. I truly believed (and still do believe) that I could choose any major in college, achieve any level degree I work towards, and reach any career position I so desire. Again, I did not and do not feel limited as a woman. I am blessed to have had this instilled in me. My mother told me I could be President of the United States.
However, when I began to think in terms of being an Orthodox Jewish woman, things became more complicated. Between Sheryl Sandberg and Anne-Marie Slaughter, the conversation about women in the workplace appears in every medium. I have read numerous magazine articles and blog posts that address the perennial topic of having it all. Many people in today's culture seem to concur that yes, women can have it all. We have heard it said over and over how recent technology allows women to step away from the mesh-backed office chairs and blur the lines between what is designated as "work time" and what is reserved for "family time." Whether this is ultimately beneficial or not is a side debate for a different time. But my question is, can an Orthodox woman have it all? Can we obtain top positions in powerful companies and yet still make it home in time for Shabbat? Can we afford to take off thirteen days throughout the year for the yomim tovim (not including travel time to visit those far away cousins that you stay with EVERY Sukkot)? If Marissa Mayer was an Orthodox Jew, would she be able to hold the position she does? What happens when a leader of a company puts on her out of office and actually means it?
Don't get me wrong, I am enthralled by the work-life conversations in pop culture recently. It is empowering and exciting to read about the growing number of women in top positions. Yet when I turn the page of the magazine, that little voice in my head (in a surprising Eastern European accent) reminds me, "But they're not Orthodox. It's different for us."
Well, Hadar Magazine wants to explore what Orthodox women have to say on this matter. It is time to create our own role models who carry a work-life-religion balance. In this 4G world, we need to learn how to keep up with the pace, yet still retain our integrity as Orthodox Jewish women. The suggestion box is now open.
Tell us your thoughts!