Historic JOFA-Kolech Meeting of the Minds

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Photo by coincoyote via Flickr.

Though the conclusion of Sukkot occurred earlier this week, our friends at JOFA co-manifested such a milestone event with such potential, far reaching effects, we wanted to share this happening with you, our readers...

The notion of the “big tent” took on a whole new meaning in the world of Orthodox feminism this week as leading Orthodox women from Israel and North America gathered in the Sukkah of Dr. Hannah Kehat, founding director of the Kolech Religious Women’s Forum, to examine gender issues facing the Orthodox communities around the world. The meeting was the first of its kind in which Orthodox feminist leaders from the two countries of Israel and the United States met for the purpose of exploring their common agenda and toying with ways to make Orthodox feminism a more cohesive international movement. Participants left with an eager energy, earnestly anticipating next steps.  

“We have made some great progress over the past forty years,” said Blu Greenberg, founder and first president of JOFA, the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance. “I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished, especially in the areas of women’s learning and leadership. But there is still work to be done, especially in the area of agunot. It’s hard to believe that after forty years of activity, we are still so far from achieving a solution.”

Many women around the table concurred. Feminist philanthropist Belda Lindenbaum, who has been working with Ms. Greenberg for those four decades, reinforced the call for systemic change. “This is an issue that burns very deeply,” she said. “There is no issue quite like agunot to make you second guess the ethical quality of the religion.”

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