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When Adar Arrives, We Increase our Joy!

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Hannah Kestenbaum

Communications Manager at ARZA

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משנכנס אדר מרבין בשמחה
When Adar arrives, we increase our joy! 

Today is Rosh Hodesh Adar!
 
Adar is a special month in the Jewish calendar. In this month, we celebrate Purim. We joyously recall the salvation of the Jewish people by Queen Esther. Synagogues around the world mark this holiday with carnivals, dressing-up, mishloah manot, and the reading of Megilat Esther (The Book of Esther). Indeed, Adar is supposed to be a month that is celebrated from its first moments: When Adar arrives, we increase our joy (Talmud, Ta’anit 29a).
 
Our joy stems from recalling the story of Queen Esther’s triumph over Haman. This has become a symbol for the struggles of the Jewish People against all forms of anti-Semitism, and in recent generations has been energized by the rise of feminism: Esther and Vashti are embraced as representations of the resilience of women in the face of adversity.
 
Purim, however, inspires us to confront head-on the struggles many women face in Israel today. The legacy passed down to us by heroines like Vashti and Esther should particularly implore us to examine the realities facing our sisters in Israel.
 
Today, women in Israel, religious or not, are chained to a patriarchal system that entangles their lives from birth, through marriage, perhaps motherhood, and even to their death. They are barred from practicing Judaism the way they want, they are locked into unwanted marriages, the State can determine parentage on their own, without investigation, and it has created a blacklist of "adulteresses."

It is ARZA’s hope that this month of Adar we can help shine a brighter light on the hurdles women in Israel must overcome to liberate themselves, often at the expense of cultivating a relationship with Judaism outside of the Orthodox parameters.
 
As we work to bolster the Reform Movement in Israel, we support the thousands of women who are looking for alternatives in any Movement. The Reform Movement in Israel can and does offer a way to approach Jewish Law in a way that provides spirituality and access where there was a void before. The work we do will ultimately help release these women from the Rabbinate’s Monopoly---and that effects both men and women.