be fair, it doesn’t take much to make me angry.
disagreed with me or challenged my views or values. The angrier I leave, the more closely I hold the conviction that was
Here at Shoresh, there is not unanimity on issues related to religion, Judaism, God, tradition, or Israel.
This past year, I probably left the most angry after a discussion that was not directly related to the curriculum. During the
discussions of plans for Passover, someone mentioned that she puts an orange on her family’s seder plate. This tradition stems
from a possibly apocryphal story in which a rabbi said that women had as much of a place on the bema as an orange on the seder
plate. As a result, some people have adopted the orange as a part of their seder plate.
The teacher, much of the class, and I got in an argument about whether or not the orange had a place on the seder plate. The
teacher's argument was three fold. She argued that the orange dignified remarks that may not have actually been made, but are
incredibly disrespectful, whatever your beliefs are on the level of participation women should have in Judaism. She also argued that
she served as her own orange, that she was the proof that women belong on the bema, so an orange was unnecessary. Her last
argument was that the orange would lose its symbolic value as it was passed on through generations as people would forget the
purpose of the orange.
Unsurprisingly, I disagreed. I felt that the introduction of the orange and its eventual loss of symbolic value reflects what has
happened as women have gained full participation in Judaism in some communities. Women’s participation started out as a
completely foreign concept, but people began to accept it. Women began to participate in some places despite the outcries from
others, and slowly, just as the orange becomes normal to new generations, so too, I hope, will women’s participation in Judaism
become seen as “normal”. The orange is about more than the one person who chooses to put the orange on the seder table, but
about the change it represents.
include an orange. I was arguing for a flexibility of tradition to allow for positive change in a way that is meaningful and positive to
individuals, families, and communities. Thus, I left angry. My opinions were fundamentally challenged, I was forced to defend
them, and I left riled up. I had been introduced to a new idea, formulated an opinion, listened to other opinions, and defended my
own opinion all within a small part of a class.
The informal and personal way in which opinions and ideas were able to flow candidly in the classroom are a clear demonstration of
the Shoresh commitment to teaching more than just the material, but teaching interest. To make me angry about a subject is to
make me care about a subject. I never thought I would ever care so much about an orange, but, here we are.
I would like to thank all of the Shoresh teachers for exposing me to new material, new opinions; and most importantly for making
me leave angry. (Class of 2015)
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