Though these topics strike a familiar chord within Christian women's blogosphere, these bloggers write from a different realm. They're Jewish.
Because of the grafted-in relationship Christians have with the Jewish people, there is often a familiar resonance between concerns expressed by some Jewish and Christian writers. Conservative and Orthodox Jewish bloggers, at times, wrestle with similar questions as evangelicals, coming at them from their own communities and faith contexts. They talk marriage and modesty, parenting and pop culture.
"There's something intimate about spilling one's guts to a friend. That's what is potentially immodest about a friendship between this married woman and any man other than my husband. Confession can be sexy, and dangerous," wrote Rabbi Rachel Miller Solomin on Tablet, debating cross-gender friendship just as we've done here on Her.meneutics.
"I have no desire to wear revealing clothes. I've been there. I've done that version of 'liberated.' It sucked for me. I chose a different path," said Chaya Kurtz, a member of Hasidic community. "I continue to dress modestly despite, even here in Crown Heights, every temptation and pressure in the world not to. There is immense societal pressure to look hot." The idea of regaining power and dignity through modesty comes up again and again in evangelical discussions of appropriate dress.
It is good to be reminded that we evangelicals do not have the corner on the struggle to make wise choices for our families and ourselves. We're not the only ones navigating the often-bewildering intersection of our faith and modern culture.
It is helpful to look at who is standing next to us, fighting the same battles we are. By "battles," I am not referring to taking sides in the call-your-congressperson, boycott-a-retailer culture wars. In an essay about the miserable way in which we've often fought those battles, Andy Crouch noted that war does terrible things to the warriors. One of the first casualties among some in the Church has been our ability to listen well to others.
Moving away from those old models of bullhorn and soapbox cultural engagement, the important battle for identity, home, family and culture still rages around us. As we recognize that others not like us are fighting the same sorts of battles we are must change the way we listen to them. In addition, as we come to them with the humility that goes along with being a student, we may discover new resources and strategies to use in our own lives, new allies from whom we can learn and to whom we may earn the right to tell our own stories. We evangelicals are not exceptional in the weight of our concerns about our world. Those of other faiths frequently mirror the kinds of social and even spiritual concerns many of us have.
The recent Women of the Wall protests at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, and the intense counter-response to the group by both Orthodox women and men, echo the battles raging in many quarters of the Christian world about women's roles within the Church. No matter which side of the battle lines on which we fall in the Church, what might we learn to from the way the Women of the Wall have organized and presented themselves? Or from the actions of those who oppose them, justifying even law-breaking violence in God's name?
I may not fully agree with every jot and tittle of what the Women of the Wall are seeking, but I honor their courage and chutzpah. The group has modeled for me what a mission-focused, unified sisterhood can accomplish, even in the face of extreme opposition. The intensity of the opposition from the Orthodox community reminds me that the most painful opposition we face often comes from within our own spiritual family. Both of those lessons have immediate application in my own life and ministry within the Church.
Similarly, reading the words penned by Jewish bloggers has helped me see the faces of others who are fighting some of the same battles I am. Their words often harmonize with the wise and provocative words I glean regularly from my evangelical sisters.
Because I am a Jewish follower of Jesus, you could make a case that I'd be more likely to affirm the work of my Jewish kin. I'll grant you that. But I see in the comments sections of some of these blogs that there are a number of card-carrying evangelical women reading – and benefitting from – blogs and websites written by Jewish women. (I am glad to see that few use the comments section to launch into apologetics-style argument, as I've often suspected that this version of "apologetics" has more in common with the manner in which we've fought culture wars than it does with genuinely redemptive, winsome debate.)
The Holy Spirit is a remarkable teacher, and he has proven again and again that he can use (and filter) all kinds of "textbooks" – even blogs penned by those of other faiths - in order to conform me to the image of the Son to the glory of the Father.