Introducing J is for Gender


Photo credit goes to the lovely Abbie @


I first became intrigued by the crosshairs of Judaism and gender when I was pregnant with my son in 2010. I prayed he would grow into a man that was good. A man that appreciates and nurtures life. Of course I wanted, first and foremost, him to be healthy and happy (in that order). But in my mind’s eye I could not help but continuously hope that my son would not grow up to be, bluntly, a douchebag (sorry Mom). 3 years later I was carrying my daughter. I contemplated about what kind of future I wanted for her. Admittedly, I had a very difficult time. Health? Of course. Happiness? Always. I eventually concluded that she should be strong. I prayed that she grows into a woman who will not be intimidated, undeterred and steadfast against all adversity. After all, there are many forces that try to derail women in our world.

Although I stand by these dreams for my children, neither of them settled right.

Last year I took a 48- hour course on sexual violence, and the facilitator asked us, “what would your world look like if there was no such thing as rape?” In a stark realization it occurred to me that I prayed for my son not be a perpetrator, and my daughter not to be a victim.

I think what was the scariest, at least for me, about this realization was that this thought was a well-formulated subconscious entity living inside of my head. What other thoughts were swimming around in there that influence my life? Where do these ideas and conceptions originate from?

I was incredibly perplexed by these feelings. Does Judaism purport these ideas? Well… maybe. On the one hand we have stories about Yehudit, the woman who took matters into her own hands by seducing and chopping off the head of a tyrant. On the other hand, women are often blamed for men’s sexual thoughts and actions, which is not something I agree with.

Hi, my name is Alyssa, and I’m incredibly confused about who I am, what I’m doing in this world, and what my place is. (Hi Alyssa!) I am fairly certain that I cannot be the only one who feels this way. One problem with being chosen is that we were not told what we were chosen for.

Thus, the idea of this blog was born. Judaism and gender are unique in that they are equally identifying for an individual. They both influence our decisions and shape our perspectives. I think for many of us, they impact, enhance and occasionally limit one another. Ideally they work seamlessly together, interweaving a beautiful harmonious relationship in the mind, pushing and pulling in the spirit of purpose and creation.

The goal of this project is to explore feelings and perspectives surrounding Judaism and Gender. I believe that it is not my role to judge interviewees, merely allow the space for open and honest communication, the endgame resulting in deeper understanding of ourselves and our world.

Oh, and if you’re curious, weirdly enough, these wishes have kind of come true for both of my children (so far). Hunh.

If you want to contribute to this project please e-mail me at