This piece was originally published in Above the Noise, Burness’ Medium publication. Check it out here.
It’s 1995. I’m 13 years old. My parents and I are at our rabbi’s house preparing for my Bar Mitzvah.
Get this: turns out our list of family members to participate in the service had more women than our conservative temple would allow.
That, uh, doesn’t sit well with my mother.
She lets the rabbi know it. Right there in the man’s living room. In front of me. No joke.
A back and forth ensues. Neither budges. It gets quiet.
Mom looks him square in the eye and breaks the silence by telling him that he, as a man, will never understand what it’s like to be told you can’t do something just because you’re a woman.
If there had been a mic, it would have dropped.
In a vacuum, all Mom did in that moment was take a hammer to a single synagogue’s sexist policy. It’s not like she changed the world. But she sure changed my world, and not only because our list stayed intact. You can draw a direct line between that moment and my joining a sexual assault peer education group in college, my time working for NARAL and AAUW, and the type of father I try to be for both my daughter and my son.
Click to read the rest of the post (and see a picture of Adam at his Bar Mitzvah) on Medium!