May 29, 2024
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May 29, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

In a front page article written by Ellie Wolf (“Teaneck’s Heichal HaTorah Launches Community Night Seder” February 3, 2022), the paper reported on a wonderful new initiative for learning— a night seder launched by Heichal HaTorah in partnership with Congregation Beth Aaron and Congregation Beth Abraham. While I am very pleased to see limud Torah flourishing in Bergen County, I wish the announcement had been more carefully worded.

The headline and the first paragraph welcome the “community” to attend. The third paragraph notes that “Heichal will coordinate a one-on-one chavrusa…for all registrants.” It goes on to speak about nurturing “life-long learners” and the participation of “neighbors and friends.” It is not until the fifth paragraph that the author notes that the program is “open to men of all ages.” In fact, this is the only reference to gender in an article that is eleven paragraphs long.

In the second half of the article, the reader learns that “all members of the community are invited” and that “every member of the community should continue to grow.” The article promises that the program will arrange “a chavrusa for anyone who seeks one, whether yeshiva graduates…or adults…including teenagers…” and will be accessible “to the community at large.” And unless the reader already knows that Heichal is a boys’ school, the article provides no illumination. Heichal participants are called “students” and “talmidim” (a term that could refer to both boys and girls).

I do not begrudge Heichal for offering a men’s-only program; in fact, I attend many women-only programs myself! But it is wrong to advertise something as a “community” initiative when it is only geared towards fifty percent of the population. If women are not invited to a program, then acknowledge that at the start and say it like it is. It is hurtful for women to read inclusive words while knowing that they are excluded.

Pam Greenwood

West Orange

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