Tonight, during Havdalah, when the spice bag was under my nose, I made sure to take an especially deep breath in, thinking about what it means to have this particular week, the one in which we marked the 90th anniversary of women’s suffrage in the United States, come to an end.
I’m loathe to discuss the role of Jews in American politics, but suffice it to say, we are ambivalent at best about our relationship to political power. I think often about what would happen if we did not take the vote for granted, if we understood the impact we could have if we voted regularly and thoughtfully. Equality Week, as the week recognizing the anniversary of suffrage is called, is also an opportunity to contemplate, unflinchingly, our power in the Jewish community as queer allies, and how we might better use it. Voting, after all, is about power, and allyship about using privilege opening access to power. We can use this power to push ourselves, and others, past the point where we believe that believe that, because women vote, the work is done. What can be done to create a Jewish community that’s actually inclusive, instead of tolerant (an insipid word, and a more insipid concept).
Power and privilege might seem like complicated concepts, but what it comes down to is this: either we believe in a Jewish people that is capable and committed to change and justice, or we don’t. If we don’t, the conversation cannot end here. If the answer is yes, we owe it to ourselves and each other to move the concept of equality to a higher level.