Women hold an important role in Jewish society. Jewish women have been accorded respect in a tradition that dates back to Biblical times. Customs of Jewish women have been practiced for hundreds of years, most of which are still being practiced in the present. The behaviors of Jewish women have been shaped by the customs of their religion, Judaism.
Jewish women have a limited role in the synagogue, or place of worship of Jews. In fact, they are not obligated to participate in formal religious services. Women are also not tasked to perform religious duties while in service, and therefore are regarded as "less privileged." This is not to say, however, that women are less important than men; men are only considered "more privileged" to have more religious obligations. Likewise, women are separated from men during prayer to prevent them from being distracted while praying.
For the Jewish people, the hair is sacred and sensual. The hair is regarded not only as attractive, but erotic, which is why it needs to be covered. After marriage, part of the Jewish custom is for a married woman to cover her hair as a sign of respect for her husband. It serves as an indication, just like a wedding band, that a woman is married. The covering of the hair is not only a Jewish woman's responsibility to her husband, but also to the god that she serves.
Jewish women are counted upon to look after the welfare of the household. They are also expected to have a significant spiritual influence over their families. The belief in Judaism is that a morally upright man may become wicked if he marries an immoral woman. However, a morally upright woman can make a wicked man turn religious.
One of the customs of Jewish women is to maintain a holy life by keeping pure sexual relations. A Jewish woman's menstrual period is considered an "impure spiritual state." During this time, she is not allowed to have sexual intercourse with her husband. Other things that will trigger intimacy such as kissing, embracing and sleeping in one bed are avoided.
After the menstrual period (most commonly after five days), the Jewish woman will wait another seven days to make sure that the flowing of blood has ceased. After this, the woman is obligated to take a ritual bath (mikvah) in a lake or sea. It is only after the mikvah that she will again be allowed to have sexual intercourse with her husband.
Lita McLeary started writing professionally for the "Philippine Inquirer" in 1989, a daily national newspaper. She has written for private online clients for over seven years. At present, she writes full-time for various websites. McLeary holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in liberal arts from the University of the Philippines.