Pardes 360 for International Women’s Day: We Forgot to Teach you How to Love

Posted by Tovah Leah Nachmani on March 8, 2017
Topics: Pardes 360, Women's Issues

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #BeBoldForChange – in pursuit of a more inclusive and gender equal world.

I hold in highest esteem the bold and dedicated human beings who are marching together to fight for inclusivity in our world.

But the fight for equality can be a slippery slope, in my humble opinion.

In the name of gender equality and gender parity – We are teaching you, our dear daughters, and rightly so – to pursue higher education, and to impact the global economy.

We are teaching you to earn money like a man, to acquire success like a man, and to be assertive like a man.

We are teaching you to fight gender discrimination, to have your vote included and your voice heard, like a man.

But we have forgotten to teach you how to love like a woman.

For 30 years as a Jewish education professional, I have been watching the growth of inspiring and impressive single young women (and men) who have been taught the professional skills to pursue an exceptional resume and a great career.

But in the realm of Love Relationships, I have witnessed an overwhelmingly widespread history of hurt and pain, confusion, and disappointment.

And here is my bold statement for International Women’s Day: To what extent can we pursue relationships the way we pursue a career?

When we pursue a career, we have our eyes and our GPS set on the future, on where we are heading.  The excitement of the day to day may not always be present in our studies and practice to get there. Yet we find satisfaction and sometimes even elation in investing our time and energy because we believe in where we are heading.

But in our love relationships we often act unprofessionally. We look for excitement, romance and intimacy before we set our GPS on our destination – before we clarify what we value, and where we want that relationship to be in one year, in five years, in fifty years.

If we want to be professional about our relationships, the questions we must ask ourselves are not only “Do we have fun together, are we compatible, and do we have deep feelings for each other?”

Among the harder questions that we need to ask ourselves and our potential (or current) partners are – How do we envision celebrating Shabbat together? To what extent do we aspire to continue our own education, and to teach our children a living thriving Judaism? To what extent are we dedicated to find the kind of communities and kindred spirits that share our values and feed our souls?

Romance is like the engine of a car. Without the engine, the car doesn’t move. But the vision of where we are headed, of what we are building together is like a well oiled steering wheel, without which the car sooner or later will run off the road and crash into a lamppost, or worse.

My bold question for us to ask ourselves is: What would it take for me to be a bit more professional in the way I love? Do I value myself and my future enough to hold off the beckoning call of romance until I have clarified my long term destination?  Can I seek a life partner who shares my visions, and wants to partner with me in creating a family and a future?

As women, we must lead this fight, boldly and with conviction. We must search inward for what we value. We must envision a life of meaning for ourselves, and invite our men to march with us in this fight.

Pardes 360 is a series of responses to world current events by Pardes faculty in 360 words (or sometimes a few more). The views expressed in the articles are those of the author and do not reflect and institutional stance. To read other Pardes360 articles, click here.

About Tovah Leah Nachmani

Tovah Leah Nachmani has been inspiring students for 25 years, teaching Torah with Commentaries, Hebrew, Prayer, and Relationships Intimacy. She also serves as a dedicated faculty advisor to students at Pardes. She received her Teaching Certification with excellence in Tanach and Jewish Thought from the Michlelet Herzog Seminary in Gush Etzion, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Indiana University, with a degree in Religion and Near Eastern Language and Literature. Tovah Leah has written and guided experiential learning programs for decades, for Jews of all backgrounds and affiliations. She is also a Holistic health practitioner, promoting physical and emotional health. Tovah Leah and her husband Gabi live in Gush Etzion, are the grateful parents of seven children and are the active, loving grandparents of many grandchildren.

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