Ever heard of an orange on a seder plate?
It is a little known story, but a popular one in my family, that there was once a conservative rabbi who said that a woman belonged on the Bimah (the area in a synagogue where the torah is read) as much as an orange belonged on a seder plate (a dish on which traditional foods are placed to symbolize the significant elements of Passover). As the story goes, ever since then feminists all over the world have placed oranges on their seder plates every year, in defiance of that limited view.
I have always loved that story. So, when I was looking for a good name for my new midwifery practice and Hearthstone Midwifery arose as one of my potential names, I went a-googling to see if it was available and what other associations might exist. I came upon a page from a very old text book on childbirth, written when obstetrics was just emerging as a medical profession and there was an intensive effort to push women (midwives) out of the field. On this page, the author was quoted as saying that a woman belonged at the hearthstone, rather than at a birthing woman's bedside. I instantly thought of that orange, and Hearthstone Midwifery became my chosen name. I love the sense of defiance of old, limiting notions of feminine roles, and the empowerment in claiming the work that feels, to me, like home.
* In my research when beginning to create this page, I was led to the website owned by the original teller of the story about the orange on the seder. I was surprised and fascinated to learn that it did not happen the way I had been taught at all! In fact, the original tradition had actually been in solidarity with Jewish GLBT folk, and in rejection of homophobia. Who knew?! Check it out - Susannah Heschel, an amazing feminist icon and professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College - http://www.miriamscup.com/Heschel_orange.htm.