Women’s Work: Seyder Tekhines
Before Kohenet I had never really explored what it meant to be a woman. It was something that just was. I never felt oppressed as a woman. I never felt like I was less than a man. I just was a woman. Aspects of being a woman like menstruation, just were. I had no strong feelings one way or the other.
Dont’ worry — this isn’t a post about menstruation.
Part of my growth through Kohenet was exploring my own relationship to gender and more personally, what it meant for me to be a woman. There were also many aspects of learning about Jewish women’s history that were the small stories in between the big stories. The big stories are history. They are the things that are written about, historically by men, and taught in schools. Until recent times the majority of women’s stories were the little ones — with a few exceptions. But if the big stories are history, then the little stories are life. Life is what happens between the big markers.
At one of our training sessions Holly had a new chant for us to learn. She said it was a book of “seyder tekhines” — women’s prayers in yiddish, generally written for women by women. It hadn’t really occurred to me that books like this existed. Wouldn’t someone have taught us about them? I did a little research when I got home, but didn’t really do anything with the information other than add Seyder Tkhines: The Forgotten Book of Common Prayer for Jewish Women. to my wish list on Amazon.com.
Recently I was looking for a new book to read and went to purchase that one but discovered it wasn’t available on the Kindle. I did find another one called A Jewish Woman’s Prayer Book was, so I bought that one. I can’t speak to the first, but I was really happy with A Jewish Woman’s Prayer Book. What I didn’t expect in this book was the incredible women’s history it unearthed. Many of the prayers were written hundreds of years ago, often by women who were published and widely respected in their own time.
One woman that the book brought to my attention was Fanny Neuda, an incredible woman whose prayer book became the standard for women of her era. Her prayers are deeply personal and moving. Some research, and I discovered that Fanny’s book has been translated and republished as Hours of Devotion: Fanny Neuda’s Book of Prayers for Jewish Women.
Reading this women’s history that was not buried, but rather forgotten has inspired me to learn more. There is a lot of forgotten women’s history that was as forgotten by the women as the men. It’s up to us to go learn about it. If this type of thing interests you, I highly recommend A Jewish Woman’s Prayer Book. I found the women’s life prayers to be more moving than the “crisis” prayers, but overall it’s an incredible mix of modern and historical prayers written for women by women (and a few men).
[tags]seyder tekhines, prayer, women, women’s history, forgotten[/tags]