Elizabeth Stuart, Hope College 2018

Ritual and Representation in a Yiddish Book of Customs- Diane Wolfthal

Reading through Wolfthal’s essay on the transformation of how those of the Jewish faith have been represented through the ages causes me to wonder. Growing up my neighbor, my mom’s best friend in the world, and my surrogate aunt, was a Jewish woman. Miriam was and is one of the strongest women I have known. Brilliant and determined, and so proudly Jewish that I know her faith was built strong on the faith of those who came before her. The pure strength of will that she emits causes me to question why illustrators during the Renaissance period decided show a greater restraint and more limitations on a woman’s role in religion.

Women, not just Jewish women, have been the target of many “moral attacks” through out history. Those in power, usually men, believe that when things have gone wrong it is God punishing us for our short comings. Men in turn have had a tendency to place this blame on women, for it is because of women that sin entered the world. Yet women have not faltered. They are strong and have the ability to rise up, fight back and protect those around them. For it is women that are strong enough to keep this fight going no matter how many times they are torn down.




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