Claiming the Title
Rebbitzin. Who in this day and age defines themselves by their partner's job?
I have a master's degree, I helped over 30 women deliver their babies, and I worked for a feminist organization to empower teenaged girls. I have an identity all my own. And yet, the maintenance staff at our synagogue calls me "The first lady" and the president of our shul refers to me as “Rebbitzin” from the bimah. At first I thought, what?! I am no different than anyone else, I am my own person, and I am certainly NOT a Rebbitzin.
But, the truth is I am different.
My partner has been a pulpit Rabbi for 6 years and it has taken me that long to embrace that the Rabbinate is not a career choice, but rather, a lifestyle choice that affects our entire family. Our lives are dedicated to improving the Jewish community. Abe and I are partners both in our personal lives and in our public life as Rabbi and “the Rabbi’s wife”. While this role does not prevent me from pursuing whatever career I choose the synagogue is also among my first priorities.
Full disclosure: I am just beginning to understand and come to terms with this dynamic, but my eldest daughter understood it long ago. When she was 5, Odelia brought home a project that says: "My mom is special because she is a Rabbi's wife". Recently I have begun embracing Odelia's sentiment. Rather than pretend that our family is like everyone else, or pretend that people see me the same way they see the person sitting next to them in the pews, I have decided to say out loud that our family is different and among the members of our synagogue, I am the Rebbitzin first and everything else second.
By claiming the title Rebbitzin I am empowered to shape my Rebbitzinate however I choose.
Dolly Madison invented ice cream, Eleanor Roosevelt created the UN, Michelle Obama fought childhood obesity and I have decided to lovingly choreograph meals for the over 450 member units in our community. I will thoughtfully create guest lists that unexpectedly pair people who despite being members of the same synagogue might not otherwise meet. I will author a "Question of the Week" for us to discuss during the meal, and create menus primarily using ingredients from our CSA share, Philly Food Works.
My intention is to be a community hub. This community will exist both around my shabbat table and on the pages of this website. I will post a recipe and the "Question of the Week" before Shabbat to share with others. I will compile a growing list of Resources and Friends who will contribute to this experiment as it evolves. Ultimately this website will empower you to create community.