The synagogue – a deeply symbolic cultural space – is a place where feminist congregants are increasingly seeking equality. These women wish to read from the Torah (a sacred text within Judaism) during services, typically something only men are allowed to do. Orthodox feminists argue that there exist halakhic (relating to Jewish law) grounds which justify women engaging in this ritual; there is simply a lack of rabbinical willingness to interpret the law in this way.
If you’re an Australian, the title of this blog post likely felt kind of strange to you. Perhaps it just felt a bit wrong or maybe it made you feel a bit uncomfortable in the tummy. Maybe it even made you angry and you’ve already skipped reading this and jumped to the comments section to complain about ‘Americanization’.
The notion of the Unreliable Narrator is, for me, not a critique of the perceived moral failings of the anthropological project, but a methodological narrative construct integral to the work of writing culture. The question of unreliability is not a question of believability but of what parts of a complex and convoluted truth we the readers are willing to sign on to and invest in. It reflects an understanding and acceptance that no single truth is wholly accurate but also that no individual account is without some measure of reality.
The new appreciation of previously dismissed types of work may be short lived, and their ongoing fight for a living wage is certainly not won. However, this crisis has opened a space in which broader conversations about the value of the work of someone like Rose may become unavoidable. If the lessons of these hotels are to be translated to national politics, it is that we cannot afford to return to the pre-COVID economy that tolerated people like Rose not receiving a living wage and rough sleepers lining Auckland Queen Street while warm rooms and homes sit empty.