- Hardcover: 480 pages
- Publisher: Jewish Lights; 1 edition (October 1, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1580233597
- ISBN-13: 978-1580233590
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,077,429 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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New Jewish Feminism: Probing the Past, Forging the Future 1st Edition
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"Extraordinary … encompasses the broad international spectrum of Jewish feminist advocates and analysts across denominational spectrums, from those who carefully consider halakhic boundaries to those who would remake Judaism from the ground up. Equally impressive, fresh new voices are here added to those of feminist pioneers. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in the renaissance in contemporary Jewish life."
―Sylvia Barack Fishman, PhD, professor of contemporary Jewish life, Brandeis University; author, The Way Into the Varieties of Jewishness
"For Jews, for feminists, for anyone who believes that we can transform our religions so that they meet the highest ethical standards, this book is required reading."
―Vanessa L. Ochs, PhD, associate professor of religious studies, University of Virginia; author, Inventing Jewish Ritual
“What a rich chorus of voices! We all know how much thought and creativity has come forth in the Jewish feminist movement over the past several decades. But to see it all together is truly breathtaking. A most impressive achievement!”
―Dr. Arthur Green, rector of the Rabbinical School and Irving Brudnick Professor of Philosophy and Religion, Hebrew College; author, Ehyeh: A Kabbalah for Tomorrow
“An amazing piece of work! The combination of range and depth, variety and sophistication is nothing short of remarkable. No stone is left unturned, no point on the spectrum unrepresented, no question unasked, no analysis ignored. This book will have 'legs' and will launch the next phase of work everywhere.”
―Blu Greenberg, co-founder and first president of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance; author, On Women and Judaism: A View from Tradition
“In this rich volume, representatives of all denominations share their thoughts and experiences, offering us a summary and assessment of what has already been accomplished in the wake of women's increased participation in the public arena of Judaism, alongside a glimpse of the work and the promise that still lie ahead.”
―Dr. Tamar Ross, professor of Jewish philosophy, Bar-Ilan University; author, Expanding the Palace of Torah: Orthodoxy and Feminism
“A profusion of wise and creative voices…. The flowering of women joining fully in shaping Judaism’s future continues.”
―Rabbi Arthur Waskow, PhD, director, the Shalom Center; coauthor with Rabbi Phyllis Berman, A Time for Every Purpose under Heaven; author of Godwrestling―Round 2 and Down-to-Earth Judaism
“A virtual salon of three generations of Jewish feminists, gathering to explore how far they have come, where they have yet to go, and the challenges and gifts they have given to us all.”
―Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin, general consultant, COEJL, the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life; director, the Baltimore Jewish Environmental Network; author, A Tapestry of Jewish Time and Tears of Sorrow, Seeds of Hope: A Jewish Spiritual Companion for Infertility and Pregnancy Loss
“A worthy addition and an important contribution for setting the agenda for the future.”
―Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, senior rabbi, Congregation Beth El Zedeck, Indianapolis; author, But God Remembered: Stories of Women from Creation to the Promised Land and Noah’s Wife: The Story of Naamah
“A spirited and broad-ranging collection of articles Jewish feminists across the spectrum will want to read.”
―Rachel Adler, PhD, associate professor of modern Jewish thought and Judaism and gender at the School of Religion, University of Southern California, and Hebrew Union College Rabbinical School; author, Engendering Judaism: An Inclusive Theology and Ethics
“A smart and comprehensive portrait of the promises and challenges of feminism across a broad spectrum of Jewish life today.”
―Dr. Rebecca Alpert, associate professor of religion and women’s studies, Temple University; author, Like Bread on a Seder Plate
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.
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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?
One of the contributors to this volume stresses that "Jewish women have the power - and the challenge - to bridge the seemingly intractable denominational gaps," and help unite and empower Jews.
One of the Orthodox contributors points out that while "it is unthinkable today for Orthodox Jewish families to educate their sons Jewishly but not their daughters," they still fail to give sufficient thought to the content of these educations, and she explains why. She mentions the rather curious practice of many Orthodox families where the wife is required to cover her head and body in long sleeves and over-long dresses, while her husband strolls the public grounds in shorts. The justification for the female restriction is tzniut, "modesty," which seems to be restricted to women. She highlights the terribly devastating practice the total inequality between men and women in marriage and divorce: only males are allowed to effectuate them. A male "acquires" a woman as a wife by saying a certain formula, while the woman who is acquired must stand by silent. In divorces, the situation is far worse. Only a husband can grant a Jewish divorce, called a get. When a husband refuses to hand his wife a get, she is left "chained" to him, the word "chained" is agunah in Hebrew, unable to marry again. There have been many instances where spiteful husbands never releases their "chained" wives from their chains and many husbands who agreed to give the get only if she or her blackmailed family pays him hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is an unconscionable situation, and rabbis should take steps to change this travesty.
A Reform contributor emphasizes that the problem of "women's quest for equality" is also unresolved among more liberal Jews. For example, why retain the traditional marriage contract called the ketubah, which focuses on the husband? The ketubah is a rabbinical invention, is not biblical, and there is no reason why it cannot be updated. Why not develop a brit ahuvim, "a lovers' covenant." A Conservative writer, the movement that is not as traditional as the Orthodox or as liberal as the Reform, outlines the problems facing her movement, including their disallowance of women to serve as witnesses or judges at divorce proceedings because if they did so, the divorce would be rejected by Orthodox Jews who disallow women to serve as witnesses and judges.
In summary, the writers demonstrate with many examples that the feminist battle for equality in Judaism, while having made advances, is far from over. They make it clear that beside the pain inflicted upon half of the Jewish people, the world won't achieve what it can achieve until both sexes are treated equally and their skills and energies used in unison.