By SHARON BEN AMI
On January 7 I heard one of my heroes give an outstanding speech to the whole wide world. It was, of course, Oprah, the beautiful, inspiring and strong woman that broke the glass ceiling and with it some of my misconceptions about myself as a Jewish Mizrachi woman through a lot of “aha” moments. As a little girl, The Oprah Show was a heaven for me, a place I escaped to find order, knowledge and support. When people’s actions and words around me seemed unjust, I knew better because I had Oprah to support my inner compass that felt otherwise.
Unfortunately, not everyone had Oprah or any other hero in their life to lean on. Some heroes eventually turned out to be villains – very powerful, smart, accomplished and persuasive villains who misled another generation down the wrong path. And so I find myself in the “enlightened” western society we live in today needing Oprah again to support that inner compass once more and bring back order to a very conflicted world.
On January 7, Oprah delivered a very well-written, charismatic speech that ended with the paragraph: “I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say ‘Me too’ again.”
I saw that speech being sealed with a standing ovation and all I could do is to stand there by myself in my apartment and join the virtual crowd.
That night I went to sleep so cheerful, so hopeful, so empowered.
On January 8 I woke up as usual to the Ynet (the Yediot Acharonot newspaper app) notification ringing on my phone. “What is it now?” I thought. “Another stabbing? Another bomb?” Turns out that it was shameful recordings of our prime minister’s son Yair Netanyahu that came out of the shadows, revealing the reality, in which women are often treated as objects used by men.
It doesn’t matter where you live, the old order between man and woman still kicks hard, and the change needs our support – from the living room talks to the court and legislators. It will be a bottom-up process because immorality exists even in the highest levels. Ironically, immorality does not discriminate.
What now? We can start with something small, raising awareness and empowering women in our community. You have a chance to start by joining me to a session of women empowerment, led by an Israeli Sensei and leader, the CEO of the organization “El Halev” (to the heart), whose goal is to empower girls and women to remove the obstacles they encounter, with the goal of creating a social environment of equal opportunity. You can find more details in the ad at right or respond to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, (615) 573-5188. •