Sisterhood Blog

Real Men Marry Rabbis

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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It’s a truism that fashion trends repeat themselves. Sure, there may be a new style, but it’s really just a repeat of an old one, usually with some small variations on the theme. It’s just too bad that when low-rise bell bottoms were big a few years ago, I wasn’t able to wear them and channel the six-year old I was when they were first in fashion. Maybe some women were willing to risk the muffin-top look for the sake of nostalgia, but I sure wasn’t.

Since I am not at all a big clothes shopper, I am always happy when something I already have in my closet (and still fits) comes back in style, or can be re-purposed in some fashionable way. It is usually flattering for a designer to see teenage girls walking down the street in garments (or knock-offs thereof) they produced decades earlier for the girls’ mothers, or even grandmothers.

I am hoping this is how Rabbi Rachel Silverman will feel if she sees the t-shirt she created back in 2006 worn today, but with a different intention in mind on the part of its wearers.

At the time Silverman first created her “Real men marry rabbis” t-shirts, when she was herself a rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary, the message she was trying to convey was a pro-egalitarian Judaism one. She was focused on ritual gender equality, as in women reading Torah, wearing tefillin, and being rabbis (among other things).

Nowadays, some of us — those of us living in Prop 8-Land (California), for instance — might naturally read a Jewish pro-gay marriage message into the t-shirt’s slogan. This may not, perhaps, be Silverman’s initial intention with her t-shirts, but I’d recommend she just go with the flow, as do all fashion designers who put up with what consumers do to personalize their style (think ripped jeans and t-shirts).

If the original intention of the product was to promote egalitarianism, then I think that according to the spirit of the law, everything should be cool…including the extra cash Rabbi Silverman could make from sales to this secondary market. It may be a smaller market than the primary one, but I alone know of several guys for whom this t-shirt would be a perfect fit.

Renee Ghert-Zand blogs at Truth, Praise and Help, where this post was originally published.


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