“It is not that long ago that life as a woman was altogether different,” my Aunt Bronya tells me as she stirs me, to my delight, into a thought-provoking discussion. “It’s been a while since women earned the right to vote, but let me tell you: the 60’s and the 70’s were no simple time to be a woman. Matters of gender, family, the workplace and official legal inequalities were debated. Laws regarding battered women's shelters and changes in custody and divorce law were proposed. The issues were complex and aroused passionate sentiments.”
“And you? You who advocates so strongly for women’s rights - How did you feel through all this?”
“I was emotionally involved for sure,” answers Aunt B. “and extremely aware of the complexity of issues and pervading confusion. Women desperately searched for meaning in the midst of all this turmoil; they so badly wanted inspiration and leadership. And then, I found my guidance and direction. It came about in an extraordinary way:
“You see, just at this time, when organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests reached high tide, my teacher, my Rebbe issued a campaign directed specifically to women, stirring them to be at the fore-front of spreading light. The Rebbe spoke then about Shabbat candles, encouraging every woman and girl to light the Shabbat candles and to encourage others to do the same. This campaign was, to me, a direct response to my frustrations and struggles as a woman. The Rebbe was a voice of strength and clarity. It was so refreshing! So invigorating! The Rebbe called us to action. And what kind of action? Action that involved spreading warmth and light!”
I often think about my conversation with my dear aunt and about what it is that the Rebbe inspired women then – and still now – to do. The Rebbe constantly encouraged women to speak, to lead, to articulate their yearnings and to achieve their spiritual aspirations. Sometimes when I'm feeling overwhelmed or frustrated, I can almost hear the Rebbe saying to me: You're feeling down-and-out? Still, you carry so much power. Go do something positive. Andlet it be an action of warmth and light. And let it bring light into your home. And let it reflect the light within you, and allow you to recognize the strength that you carry. And then let that light ignite another light. And then another. In the fight against darkness, your ammunition is light…!
This week marks Gimmel Tammuz - the 20th Yortzeit of The Rebbe. It is an auspicious time to reflect on the Rebbe's life-mission and make decisions for positive action. Particularly, as women, it is a time to act upon his global and personal talks to and about the power of the Jewish woman. More on the Rebbe's view of women:
* [Putting Women in the Picture by Dr. Susan Handelman](http://www.chabad.org/theJewishWoman/article_cdo/aid/161694/jewish/Putting-Women-in-the-Picture.htm)
* [The Jewish Woman - Jewish Media Trailer](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9yWJW5GnRY)_