Fact: Rabbinical schools still require students to go to Israel for extended periods of time.
Fact*: “Marriages” are still about actually being with one’s spouse some of the time.
Fact: Boston is thousands of miles away from Israel.
Fact: My job will not pay me for being in another country. When I teach, I get money. When I don’t teach, I get bubkes.
Fact: Rent still costs money. Food still costs money too.
“BUT WAIT!” You might be thinking. “Aren’t you independently wealthy like all good rebbetzins?”
Why no, no I am not. I actually need to earn money to support myself. It’s one of my biggest failings when it comes to rebbetzinhood. I do not go home from teaching and swim in my Scrooge McDuck vault of hundred dollar bills before cooking a fabulous meal made out of artisanal everything, cooked on a stovetop made of gold, to be served atop dishes made from pure diamonds.
“BUT WAIT!” You might think, more reasonably, “Can’t you just save a bunch of money and take time off to go to Israel?”
Theoretically, I might be able to do that. But when one is climbing an adjunct professor seniority ladder, there’s no such thing as job security. I would very likely be out of a job when I got back.
“But why not get a job like baking cookies when you get back?”
As much as I love cookies, I actually enjoy my career in education. I know, I know, this makes me the sorriest excuse for a rebbetzin on the face of the earth. I should just convince Suzie to quit rabbinical school now, or file for divorce, or take some other appropriately drastic course of action based on my completely ridiculous desire to have a career like all other grown up human beings in 2012. How dare I? Why don’t I understand that while the role of rabbi can change in response to modern needs, the role of the rebbetzin is perpetually stuck in the 1950s? As a rebbetzin, I am signing up to be the secondary career in my marriage. I will move to be with Suzie, and I will adjust my career time frame to fit hers. Because duh, rabbis are more important than everyone in the entire universe. I’m just a sidekick with oven mitts and a uterus.
Bad Rebbetzin Blog #5
*okay so this is just an opinion.
Note: I don’t actually think I’m going to be the world’s worst rebbetzin. However, I want to draw attention to rebbetzins and the expectations we as a community have for this anachronistic yet still relevant role. I think it’s important to problematize our unquestioned notions of gender, tradition, and perhaps even the very concept of spiritual “leaders” (e.g. the way we tend to think of clergy as superhuman). I want to think about exactly what I’m not allowed to do and why I’m not supposed to do it. This is the fifth part in a ten part series (the “Bad Rebbetzin Blog” within my Jewish Boston blog) exploring the themes of humanity and gender as they relate to our expectations for rebbetzins.
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