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New Jewish Feminism: Probing the Past, Forging the Future Hardcover – October 1, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-1580233590 ISBN-10: 1580233597 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Jewish Lights; 1 edition (October 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580233597
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580233590
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,210,626 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

If You Think Jewish Feminism
Is Your Mother's Issue, Think Again Growing up in the 1960s, the notion of a woman rabbi, a woman Israeli Supreme Court judge, an Orthodox female Talmud scholar, or an Orthodox synagogue where women read the Torah from their side of the mechitzah were impossible, even ridiculous scenarios. Yet in the modern day, all of this is reaching the stage of "normative." What's left for Jewish feminism to accomplish?

Join Jewish women from all areas of Jewish life as they examine what makes a "Jewish woman" today, how feminism has affected her identity and whether the next generation of Jewish women is braced to tackle the challenging work still ahead.

About the Author

Rabbi Elyse Goldstein, one of the leading rabbis of a new generation, is director of Kolel: The Adult Center for Liberal Jewish Learning, a full-time progressive adult Jewish learning center. Goldstein lectures frequently throughout North America. She is also editor of The Women's Torah Commentary: New Insights from Women Rabbis on the 54 Weekly Torah Portions; and The Women's Haftarah Commentary: New Insights from Women Rabbis on the 54 Weekly Haftarah Portions, the 5 Megillot and Special Shabbatot; and author of the award-winning New Jewish Feminism: Probing the Past, Forging the Future and ReVisions: Seeing Torah through a Feminist Lens (all Jewish Lights).

Rabbi Elyse Goldstein is available to speak on the following topics:

  • Women and Judaism
  • Reform Judaism
  • Jewish Parenting
  • General Judaica


Ellen Bernstein is the founder of Shomrei Adamah—Keepers of the Earth, the first institution dedicated to cultivating the ecological thinking and practices integral to Jewish life. She is author of Ecology and the Jewish Spirit: Where Nature and the Sacred Meet and currently works as director of community building at the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.

Ellen Bernstein is available to speak on the following topics:

  • Reading the Bible Ecologically
  • Prayer from an Ecological Perspective
  • Why Judaism Needs Ecology and Why the Environmental Movement Needs a Spiritual Approach
  • Creation Theology
  • Why (and How) to Start a Synagogue Garden or Farm!


Marla Brettschneider, PhD, is associate professor of political science and women's studies at the University of New Hampshire, where she also coordinates the queer studies program. She served as the executive director of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ) from 2002 to 2004. Her books include The Family Flamboyant: Race Politics, Queer Families, Jewish Lives; Democratic Theorizing from the Margins; and Cornerstones of Peace: Jewish Identity Politics and Democratic Theory.



Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell is the director of the Pennsylvania Council of the Union for Reform Judaism.



Rabbi Jill Jacobs is executive director of T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. . Widely acknowledged as one of the leading voices in Jewish social justice, Rabbi Jacobs is also the author of There Shall Be No Needy: Pursuing Social Justice through Jewish Law and Tradition and Where Justice Dwells: A Hands-On Guide to Doing Social Justice in Your Jewish Community (both Jewish Lights). She has been voted to the Forward newspaper's list of fifty influential Jews, to Newsweek's list of the fifty most influential rabbis in America and to the Jewish Week's list of "thirty-six under thirty-six."

Rabbi Jill Jacobs is available to speak on the following topics:

  • Social Justice in Judaism: Historical, Textual and Political Roots, and Their Meaning for Jews Today
  • Synagogue Social Justice That Works
  • In the Image: A Jewish Take on Human Rights
  • Torah in the Workplace: Ethical Business Practices for the Synagogue, School, Home and Business
  • A Jewish Approach to Combating Human Trafficking

Click here to contact the author.



Rabbi Naamah Kelman is dean of Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute
of Religion in Jerusalem. Born and raised in New York City, she has lived in
Israel for over three decades. She is active in feminist causes and a staunch
advocate of a Progressive, pluralistic, democratic Israel.



Rabbi Jane Rachel Litman serves Sha'ar Zahav in San Francisco, a congregation of people of diverse sexualities and family structures. She has taught on the faculty of California State University Northridge, the University of Judaism, and Loyola Marymount. She is active in many social action organizations, and is widely published in the fields of Jewish women’s history and contemporary theology. She lives in Northern California with her partner, Stewart Schwartz, and their two children, Sophie and Asher.



Rabbi Dalia Marx, PhD, is a professor of liturgy and midrash at the Jerusalem campus of Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion and teaches in various academic institutions in Israel, and Europe. Rabbi Marx earned her doctorate at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and her rabbinic ordination at HUC–JIR in Jerusalem and Cincinnati. She is involved in various research groups and is active in promoting progressive Judaism in Israel. Rabbi Marx contributed to May God Remember: Memory and Memorializing in Judaism—Yizkor, Who by Fire, Who by Water—Un'taneh Tokef, All These Vows—Kol Nidre, and We Have Sinned: Sin and Confession in Judaism—Ashamnu and Al Chet (all Jewish Lights). She writes for academic journals and the Israeli press, and is engaged in creating new liturgies and midrashim.



Rabbi Joseph B. Meszler is a noted spiritual leader and educator, recognized for his ability to connect the importance of Jewish tradition with everyday life. He is coauthor of The JGuy's Guide: The GPS for Jewish Teen Guys and author of A Man's Responsibility: A Jewish Guide to Being a Son, a Partner in Marriage, a Father and a Community Leader; Witnesses to the One: The Spiritual History of the Sh'ma and Facing Illness, Finding God: How Judaism Can Help You and Caregivers Cope When Body or Spirit Fails (all Jewish Lights). He is the rabbi at Temple Sinai in Sharon, Massachusetts, and an instructor at the Kehillah Schechter Academy.

Rabbi Joseph B. Meszler is available to speak on the following topics:

  • The Spiritual History of the Sh'ma: What "God Is One" Might Mean
  • Not Your Father's Brotherhood: What Being a Jewish Man Meant Then and Now
  • How Judaism Can Help You Cope with Illness

Click here to contact the author.



Judith Plaskow, PhD, is a Jewish feminist theologian and professor of religious studies at Manhattan College. In addition to co-founding the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, she has written and edited several significant books in the field, including one of the first feminist dissertations in religious studies, Sex, Sin, and Grace: Women's Experience and the Theologies of Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich. Plaskow also wrote the first full-length Jewish feminist theology, Standing Again at Sinai: Judaism from a Feminist Perspective. Her most recent
work is a collection of essays, The Coming of Lilith: Essays on Feminism, Judaism, and Sexual Ethics, 1972–2003. Plaskow is past president of the American Academy of Religion.



Rosie Rosenzweig is a Boston poet, writer, and teacher. Her work has appeared in Sara's Daughters Sing, Lifecycles, Volume 2, Celebrating the New Moon: A Rosh Chodesh Anthology,
and Reading Between the Lines: New Stories from the Bible. The book editor of Neshama Magazine, she is writing a book about her encounters with spiritual leaders in southeast Asia.



Danya Ruttenberg is author of the forthcoming Surprised by God: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Religion and editor of the anthology Yentl's Revenge: The Next Wave of Jewish Feminism. She is a contributing editor to Lilith magazine and Women in Judaism: A Multidisciplinary Journal. Ruttenberg will receive rabbinic ordination from the American Jewish University.



Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi, PhD, is a rabbi and scholar who was ordained
at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion and earned a PhD in
Jewish philosophy at The Jewish Theological Seminary. She is the Shalom
Hartman Institute's director of lay leadership education and co-director of
its North American Scholars Circle. She is also a member of the faculty of
HUC–JIR, Jerusalem, and teaches in communities throughout North
America. She is co-author of two books, Striving Toward Virtue and Preparing
Your Heart for the High Holidays
, and author of many articles and rituals.
She lives outside Jerusalem with her husband, Rabbi Ofer Sabath
Beit-Halachmi, and their children, Tehillah and Yedidya.



Dr. Wendy Zierler is professor of modern Jewish literature and feminist studies at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion, New York. She is translator and coeditor with Rabbi Carole Balin of To Tread on New Ground: The Selected Writings of Hava Shapiro (forthcoming) and a Behikansi atah (Shapiro's collected writings, in the original/Hebrew). She is also author of And Rachel Stole the Idols and the feminist Haggadah commentary featured in My People's Passover Haggadah: Traditional Texts, Modern Commentaries (Jewish Lights), a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. She contributed to May God Remember: Memory and Memorializing in Judaism—Yizkor, Who by Fire, Who by Water—Un’taneh Tokef, All These Vows—Kol Nidre, and We Have Sinned: Sin and Confession in Judaism—Ashamnu and Al Chet (all Jewish Lights).


More About the Author

Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg is the author of Surprised By God: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Religion (Beacon Press), nominated for the Sami Rohr Prize in Jewish Literature; editor of The Passionate Torah: Sex and Judaism (NYU Press) and Yentl's Revenge: The Next Wave of Jewish Feminism (Seal Press); and co-editor, with Rabbi Elliot Dorff, of three books on Jewish ethics: Sex and Intimacy (JPS); War and National Security (JPS, August 2010); and Social Justice (JPS, August 2010). She's also a contributing editor to Sh'ma: A Journal of Jewish Ideas, Lilith, and the academic journal Women and Judaism.

In 2013, Newsweek and The Daily Beast named her as one of ten "rabbis to watch." In 2010, the Forward recognized her as one of the top 50 most influential women rabbis, and the Jewish Week recognized her as one of the "36 Under 36″ (36 most influential leaders under age 36). Her work has appeared in a wide range of venues, from Salon and The San Francisco Chronicle to Best Jewish Writing series, the new edition of Encyclopedia Judaica, and Bitch magazine's Bitchfest. Before receiving her rabbinic ordination from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles, she grew up in the Chicago area, received her B.A. in Religious Studies from Brown University and worked in San Francisco as a freelance writer. Rabbi Ruttenberg lives in the Chicago area with her family and teaches and lectures nationwide. More information about her, as well as contact information, can be found at http://danyaruttenberg.net/.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Israel Drazin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover
It is outrageous to think that God relegated women to second class citizenship and outlawed them from a real relationship with the divine. It is beyond belief that there are still people who echo the view of the biblical commentator and philosopher Levi ben Gershon, called Gersonides (1288-1344), that women are subhuman creatures between animals and men.

This volume contains thirty-seven essays by thirty six Jewish women, including twenty-two rabbis and a half dozen PhD's, and one man, who writes about men, from all the Jewish denominations. Rabbi Goldstein, the editor, comments in her introduction that radical changes occurred for Jewish women since 1968 when she stood up at her Bat Mitzvah ceremony at age 13 at her Reform Temple and told the congregation that she would be a rabbi. The surprised rabbi rushed to the podium to explain that she certainly meant a rebbetzin (the wife of the rabbi). Undaunted, she replied: Let my husband be the rebbetzin. I'll be the rabbi.

The book discloses some of the still existing problems, and raises serious questions. Wouldn't the concept of Torah, Israel, and God change for the better if women are accepted as full participants in Judaism? Doesn't it help if we consider revelation as not being restricted in time and place, to Moses at Sinai, but as ongoing, through rabbinic interpretations derived from ongoing history, as the first Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, taught? Shouldn't women be encouraged to write more new interpretations of Torah from a feminine perspective to correct the erroneous one-sided views of the past?
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