This was originally posted on The Sisterhood. Yup, that's Mayim Bialik's writing next to mine.
August 27, 2013. It was my second day of college, the last day of saying Kaddish for my dad. When I went to Shacharit at the Hillel, the chazzan asked me if I wanted to say the prayer on my own or along with a man. I did want to say it by myself; it would have been the first time that I had ever done so. On the other hand, I was scared to do it solo.
As a feminist, I wanted to say the Kaddish alone in order to assert my voice and show that I am a member of the community. Since I was the only person on the women’s side of the mechitzah, I didn’t feel like I was part of any community. I felt like an outsider, a spectator rather than an active participant in the prayers. This isolation and consequent fear and intimidation crippled me, making me terrified to raise my feminine voice and say Kaddish alone in front of a group of men. So I whispered my own father’s Kaddish while a man, someone who I don’t even know, said it out loud.