Shabbat Service: Standing Up for Girls and Women’s Full Inclusion in Societyby Leah Koenig | April 27, 2012 | 0 comments
Shabbat Service is a weekly bit of Torah-inspired do-gooding, brought to you by Repair the World and our grantee-partner American Jewish World Service (AJWS). Read on to see how these ancient stories can apply today. Seem far fetched? Check it out:
The story: This week’s parsha (Torah portion), Tzaria-Metzora, talks about menstruation (yes, the Torah discusses *lots* of fascinating topics!). Particularly, it covers the uncomfortable-to-think-about notion that, according to the Torah, a woman is rendered “ritually impure” by her period. (Read the passage here in Leviticus 15:19-24).
As this week’s dvar tzedek author, Sigal Samuel writes, “In addition, women in Israelite society were likely forced to withdraw from the public sphere during their periods [in part] because of their impure status—which prevented them from entering sacred spaces or eating sacred foods.”
The takeaway: Thousands of years after the time of Torah, many girls and woman – especially in developing countries, still find that menstruation is a barrier to their inclusion in school and society. As Samuel writes – feminine hygiene products are not always available or affordable and, “for millions of girls, school attendance suffers as a result. According to an Oxford University study, in rural Ghana, many girls miss up to five school days each month because of their periods.” Meanwhile, menstruation is still considered taboo in many developing nations. For more information, check out this article in the New York Times and watch the video below:
The “to-do”: Support organizations that work for women’s health, education, and the full inclusion of girls and women in society. Checkout Sustainable Health Enterprises, the Alliance for African Women Initiative, The Fistula Foundation.
Read the full Torah commentary, on which this excerpt is based, over at AJWS’ website.