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Overview

Jewish Feminism: What Have We Accomplished? What Is Still to Be Done?

"When you are in the middle of the revolution you can't really plan the next steps ahead. But now we can. The book is intended to open up a dialogue between the early Jewish feminist pioneers and the young women shaping Judaism today…. Read it, use it, debate it, ponder it."
—from the Introduction

This empowering anthology looks at the growth and accomplishments of Jewish feminism and what that means for Jewish women today and tomorrow. It features the voices of women from every area of Jewish life—the Reform, Reconstructionist, Conservative, Orthodox and Jewish Renewal movements; rabbis, congregational leaders, artists, writers, community service professionals, academics, and chaplains, from the United States, Canada, and Israel—addressing the important issues that concern Jewish women:

  • Women and Theology
  • Women, Ritual and Torah
  • Women and the Synagogue
  • Women in Israel
  • Gender, Sexuality and Age
  • Women and the Denominations
  • Leadership and Social Justice
Contributors: Beth Cooper Benjamin, EdD • Rabbi Donna Berman, PhD • Ellen Bernstein • Marla Brettschneider, PhD • Shifra Bronznick • Anita Diamant • Rabbi Jacqueline Koch Ellenson • Ruth Andrew Ellenson • Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell, PhD • Rabbi Tirzah Firestone • Idana Goldberg, PhD • Rabbi Elyse Goldstein • Jodie Gordon • Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb • Rabbi Jill Hammer, PhD • Sara Hurwitz, Madricha Ruchanit (Religious Mentor)• Rabbi Jill Jacobs • Rabbi Valerie Joseph • Rabbi Karyn D. Kedar • Rabbi Naamah Kelman • Rabbi Gail Labovitz, PhD • Lori Hope Lefkovitz, PhD • Anne Lapidus Lerner, PhD • Rahel Lerner • Rabbi Jane Rachel Litman • Rabbi Dalia Marx, PhD • Rabbi Joseph B. Meszler • Rabbi Haviva Ner-David, PhD • Cantor Barbara Ostfeld • Rabbi Barbara Penzner • Judith Plaskow, PhD • Rabbi Irit Printz • Rabbi Einat Ramon, PhD • Rabbi Geela Rayzel Raphael • Rosie Rosenzweig • Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg • Rabbi Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi • Rabbi Rona Shapiro • Margalit Shilo, PhD • Rabbi Alana Suskin • Wendy Zierler, PhD

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781683362203
Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
Publication date: 10/01/2008
Pages: 466
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.20(d)

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

Anita Diamant is author of The Red Tent ; The New Jewish Wedding ; Bible Baby Names: Spiritual Choices from Judeo-Christian Sources; and The New Jewish Baby Book (Jewish Lights), among other books. She is a founder of Mayyim Hayyim, Living Waters Community Mikveh and the Paula J. Brody Family Education Center in Newton, Massachusetts.

Rabbi Donna Berman, PhD, is the executive director of the Charter Oak Cultural Center in Hartford, Connecticut. She holds a PhD in religion and social ethics from Drew University and is rabbi emerita of Port Jewish Center in Port Washington, New York. Rabbi Berman was the editor of a special edition of the Journal of Reform Judaism , celebrating twenty-five years of women in the rabbinate and is the author of numerous articles. She recently co-edited The Coming of Lilith: Essays on Feminism, Judaism, and Sexual Ethics, 1973–2003 with Judith Plaskow.

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 Hammer, PhD, is the director of spiritual education at the Academy
for Jewish Religion. She is also the director of Tel Shemesh, a website and community
celebrating and creating Jewish earth-based traditions, and the
cofounder of Kohenet: The Hebrew Priestess Training Program. She is the
author of numerous essays, articles, and poems, and also of two books: Sisters
at Sinai: New Tales of Biblical Women
(Jewish Publication Society, 2001) and
The Jewish Book of Days: A Companion for All Seasons (Jewish Publication
Society, 2006).

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

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

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).

Karyn D. Kedar teaches matters of the spirit to groups throughout the U.S. She is senior rabbi at Congregation B'nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim in the Chicago area, and the inspiring author of The Bridge to Forgiveness: Stories and Prayers for Finding God and Restoring Wholeness; Our Dance with God: Finding Prayer, Perspective and Meaning in the Stories of Our Lives; and God Whispers: Stories of the Soul, Lessons of the Heart (all Jewish Lights).

Rabbi Jacqueline Koch Ellenson is the director of the Women's Rabbinic Network. She also serves as chair of the Hadassah Foundation. Rabbi Ellenson graduated from Barnard College and was ordained at the Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in 1983. She has worked in a variety of Jewish educational settings, and served as a chaplain at the Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles from 1991 to 2002. Now living in New York, she has led a "Rosh Chodesh: It’s a Girl Thing" group for four years, participated in a rabbinic cohort of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, and is a spiritual director. She is married to Rabbi David Ellenson, and they have five children.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Anita Diamant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xi

Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xv

Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xix

Part I Women and Theology 1
Calling All Theologians
JUDITH PLASKOW, PhD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

Major Trends in Jewish Feminist Theology
The Work of Rachel Adler, Judith Plaskow, and Rebecca Alpert
RABBI DONNA BERMAN, PhD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12

To Her We Shall Return
Jews Turning to the Goddess, the Goddess Turning to Jews
RABBI JILL HAMMER, PhD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22

Metaphors of God
RABBI KARYN D. KEDAR. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35

Creation Theology
Theology for the Rest of Us
ELLEN BERNSTEIN. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42


Part II Women, Ritual, and Torah 55
The Hermeneutics of Curiosity
On Reclamation
RABBI DANYA RUTTENBERG . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59

The Politics and Aesthetics of Jewish Women's Spirituality
LORI HOPE LEFKOVITZ, PhD, AND RABBI RONA SHAPIRO. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66

The Pink Tallit
Women’s Rituals as Imitative or Inventive?
RABBI ELYSE GOLDSTEIN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81

From Ancient Times to Modern Meaning
Jewish Women Claim Their Ritual Power
RABBI GEELA RAYZEL RAPHAEL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90

Torah Study "For Women"
WENDY ZIERLER, PhD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102

Transforming Our Stories through Midrash
RABBI TIRZAH FIRESTONE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113

Part III Women and the Synagogue 121
From the Personal to the Communal
How Women Have Changed the Rabbinate
RABBI JACQUELINE KOCH ELLENSON . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 125

The Ascent of the Woman Cantor
Shira Hamaalot
CANTOR BARBARA OSTFELD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133

Orthodox Women in Rabbinic Roles
SARA HURWITZ, MADRICHA RUCHANIT (RELIGIOUS MENTOR) . . . . . . . . . 144

Feminism and the Transformation of the Synagogue
RABBI SUE LEVI ELWELL, PhD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155

Where Are the Jewish Men?
The Absence of Men from Liberal Synagogue Life
RABBI JOSEPH B. MESZLER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 165

Pacing Change
The Impact of Feminism on Conservative Synagogues
ANNE LAPIDUS LERNER, PhD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 175

Women in the Conservative Synagogue
RABBI IRIT PRINTZ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 186

part iv Women in Israel 195
A Thirty-Year Perspective on Women and Israeli Feminism
RABBI NAAMAH KELMAN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 197

Gender in Israeli Liberal Liturgy
RABBI DALIA MARX, PhD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 206

Masorti (Conservative Israeli) Women
RABBI EINAT RAMON, PhD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 218

The First Decade of the Orthodox Women’s Revolution in Israel
The Case of Kolech
MARGALIT SHILO, PhD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 227

Part V Gender, Sexuality, and Age 239
Jewish Feminism, Sexuality, and a Sexual Justice Agenda
MARLA BRETTSCHNEIDER, PhD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 241

If the Shoe Doesn’t Fit, Examine the Soul
Jewish Feminism and Gender Expression
RABBI JANE RACHEL LITMAN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 250

Koach Banot (Girl Power)
Talking Feminism with Jewish Teen Girls
BETH COOPER BENJAMIN, EdD, AND JODIE GORDON. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 258

Portrait of the Writer as a Young Feminist
RAHEL LERNER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 273

The Pink Ghetto
RUTH ANDREW ELLENSON . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 277

Part VI Women and the Denominations 283
Orthodoxy and Feminism
IDANA GOLDBERG, PhD. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 287

The Changing Status of Women in Liberal Judaism
A Reflective Critique
RABBI RACHEL SABATH BEIT-HALACHMI . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 297

Feminism and Halakhah
The Jew Who (Still) Isn’t There
RABBI HAVIVA NER-DAVID, PhD. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 312

Feminism and Jewish Law in Conservative Judaism
RABBI GAIL LABOVITZ, PhD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 323

Women and the Reconstructionist Movement
RABBI BARBARA PENZNER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 334

Part VII Leadership and Social Justice 345
Jewish Women’s Leadership for the Twenty-first Century
SHIFRA BRONZNICK. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 347

Bread, Roses, and Chutzpah
Jewish Women in American Social Movements
RABBI JILL JACOBS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 356

Women’s Right to a World Free of Violence
RABBI LYNN GOTTLIEB . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 369

Servants before the King
Raising Up the Healer to Leadership
RABBI VALERIE JOSEPH AND RABBI ALANA SUSKIN. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 382

Post-Triumphalism and the New Haskalah
ROSIE ROSENZWEIG. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 397

Notes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 404

Glossary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 427

Suggestions for Further Reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 432

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