Gender a Well Covered Topic

The Issue of gender keeps coming up throughout the readings on the popular religious practices of both Islam and Judaism.  I found this particularly interesting in Alex Weingrad’s The Saint of Beersheba, where he addresses multiple issues in Jewish sainthood. The celebration of the hiluila which he concentrates on can be broken down into several different issues. There are male-female dimensions, but there are also, age and nationality dimensions. Weingrad very intellectually breaks the actual performance of the hilula into separate acts. He recognizes the different dimensions of young and old, local and distant, family or single, and male-female throughout these different acts. The first act takes place in the morning when a small older crowd comes to pray by the saint’s grave. This is the image I was expecting, men and women separated praying but the major difference being age, especially with a saint that comes from Morocco and is buried in Israel. However, my expectations were broken and the other dimensions especially male-female dynamic became more important or less important in the other two acts. The two ways this dynamic was expressed to the greatest extent, was the physical separation of men and women and secondly the dancing. In the dancing the separation and different roles of men and woman were very noticeable. In this area it seems like a good idea to explore this difference. The focus on gender is very prevalent as a theme, and seems to be further explored or even over explored in this subject, especially compared to issues of age and nationality which seem to create larger questions about popular religion.

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