Potiche - standing on the shoulder (pads) of giants

Last night I had the very lovely pleasure of going to see Potiche - a fabulous night out with brilliant 70's touches and a delicate (and at times not so delicate) sense of humour.
The gender battles of the 70's may be well behind us, and they are funny (if not a little scary) to look back on. There is still a long way to go, but Potiche warmly reminded us of just how far we have come, and I know I am a beneficiary! I grew up with women Rabbis, indeed I'm not sure I knew men could be rabbis! It was never a question for me if it would be possible for me to be a Rabbi, only if it was right for me. It was never a question I would go to university, only if I wanted to.
I was asked last year on BBC Arabic News, after the ordination of the first woman rabbi in Germany since Regina Jonas, why it was important to have women Rabbis. I replied that if you exclude 50% of the population from any job, you are missing out on 50% of the talent.
There have been many ways women have been empowered and empowering over the last 35 years since the period Potiche is set in. Some have had to imitate men, some have used their femininity. We are not quite there yet, but hopefully we are approaching a time when men and women will all be able to use every part of their personality and (or even regardless of) their physicality, masculine or feminine, to excel as individuals, rather than having to manipulate types and codes.


  1. Rabbi Debbie, I love your optimism & upbeat assessment of the age that we are approaching.

    I grew up in NY Metro area in the 1970's and '80's, but in a Conservative synagogue with no women in real leadership roles. It was only in college that I ever considered the rabbinate as a career.

    My daughters have a different perspective--growing up in NYC in the 90's and Atlanta in the 00's, with their view of Ima on the bima.

    Thank you for these words: I am bookmarking this post so that I can refer to it when I need to feel uplifted!

    Rabbi Pamela

  2. I'm glad it was uplifting Pamela, and of course there will be many occasions we will see the flip side - how far there still is to go - and need to be uplifted! But we can't use every day to worry, some days we also have to appreciate! D

  3. and part of that appreciating is appreciating women who went before us and fought that fought so that I and your daughters don't have to think twice!


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