This election season has placed young women in an impossible bind between gender and generation.
At a recent political rally, Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said: "We can tell our story of how we climbed the ladder, and a lot of you younger women think it's done. It's not done. There's a special place in hell for women who don't help each other!" Feminist icon Gloria Steinem added that young women are supporting Bernie basically to be close to "boys." She later apologized.
With the New York State Primary just days before Passover begins, I can't help but notice the surprising similarities between the current political conundrum and the tension surrounding the Women's Seder, a Passover ritual celebrated by Jewish women around the world.
The Women's Seder was created as a women's-only celebration of Passover to assert women's roles in the story of the Exodus -- the foundational narrative of the Jewish people. I've attended many Women's Seders and was moved by what I saw -- women speaking out about personal and systematic oppression, women dancing without apprehension about their bodies, and women leading rituals that were once reserved only for men. This legitimate and necessary ritual resonated with women for decades.
But now, instead of feeling emboldened by the Women's Seder, many young women in particular are alienated by them. Women-only celebrations read as exclusive rather than empowering. Women-only celebrations ignore the growing recognition of the transgender community. Arguably, women-only celebrations narrow the reach of woman's voices rather than amplify them.
So where should young women pledge our allegiance -- to our gender or to our generation? Do we side with the establishment or break from our feminist forerunners? Is there a way to move forward with feminism while leaving the Women's Seder behind?
Just as we must make our choice in this election, Jewish women will also decide this week how to embrace Passover. I propose to my peers that instead of shunning the Women's Seder, let's leverage it. Let's use the lessons, rituals, confidence and comfort cultivated at Women's Seders and infuse those into our family and congregational celebrations.
In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg wrote that if there is a seat at the table, women need to take it. This year I'll be sitting at the head of the table, leading my synagogue's congregational seder. It won't be a Women's Seder, but it will be a feminist one, filled with stories of the amazing women of the Bible and directed by a female voice -- for people of all genders, ages, and life-stages to hear.