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Orthodox

JOFA: Beyond Belief - Part 2

In her final interview before leaving JOFA, Elana Sztokman talks about Orthodox feminism and JOFA. This is the second part of our three-part series, posting weekly.
Read part one here.
Read part three here.

Susan Reimer-Torn: Some of JOFA’s early financing came from progressive Jewish groups and some non-Orthodox women. Why do you think they were persuaded to contribute? How important is this alliance?

JOFA: Beyond Belief - Part 1

Today we are excited to publish the first installment of a three-part series on JOFA and Orthodox Feminism, posting weekly. After covering the JOFA conference for the Jewish Week, Susan Reimer-Torn found she had many timely questions to explore about the state and vision of Orthodox Feminism today. Her conversations with author and JOFA executive director Elana Sztokman confirmed that much needs to be shared about the conflicts, values, tensions, and goals of Orthodox Feminism. Elana's views, both as a thought leader and an organizational executive, illuminate dark corners and sound an inclusive note for all Jewish women interested in innovation and inclusiveness, regardless of religious affiliation.

Where She's Coming From

I’m bracing myself for the inevitable storm of essays about Neshama Carlebach’s choice and what it says about Orthodoxy. It’s easy to read her decision to “make aliyah” to Reform Judaism as a triumph of the liberal values and inclusivity of the Reform Movement over the ingrained sexism of Orthodoxy. But the truth is that both movements are struggling with how to include women and a wider range of voices.

From Hasidic Rock to the Dangers of Slut-Shaming at JOFA

I had been eagerly anticipating the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA) conference for months. Happily, it did not disappoint.

But Why Do They Have to be Rabbis?

Although my friends usually come into the conversation unable to comprehend why nice, Orthodox girls would want to enter the rabbinate, I certainly hope they leave the discussion slightly more enlightened. They don’t have to agree with me at the end of the day; Judaism is very fluid, and no two people must come to the same conclusion regarding the interpretation of halakha. I just hope they can understand why women like the recent Yeshivat Maharat graduates may want to choose the rabbinate or a religious leadership role.

We Begin to Become a Multitude

This was the first time that Orthodox women were ordained in an institutional setting. There was a profound sense that not only was this a big moment for the three women getting ordained, but also for the men who trained them. I could hear the pride in Rabbi Jeffrey Fox, the Rosh HaYeshiva’s voice, and how much this meant to Rabbi Avi Weiss. In particular, Rabbi Weiss emphasized the desire to give a professionally recognized title to these women (even if it is Maharat, rather than Rabba), and the absolute necessity of the support of the male rabbis who have welcomed these women into their congregations. For Rabba Sara, I had the profound sense that she was creating an exciting new cohort of colleagues for herself. It’s one thing to be a groundbreaker, but totally another to bring others along with you, to create a system and a path for future generations. 

Orthodox Women Reach Another Milestone

Orthodox women are making history in front of our eyes. On June 16, three women will be ordained to serve, in effect, as Orthodox rabbis, given the title of Maharat (an acronym for the Hebrew words meaning leader in legal, spiritual and Torah matters).

They will graduate from Yeshivat Maharat in New York City, the first and thus far only women to receive institutional ordination as religious and spiritual leaders in the Orthodox world.

Miri Shalem of Beit Shemesh and dance as a tool of social change

Before most of us ever heard of the small town of Beit Shemesh, Miri Shalem the orthodox mother of four children and a long-time resident was directing the town’s JCC.

Some things we missed: July Link Roundup

  • Aurora Mendelsohn of Rainbow Tallit Baby discusses the use of the word "egalitarian" in different aspects of Jewish life on Jewschool. She writes, "I could not help channeling Inigo Montoya; “Egalitarian…You keep using that word.

In a new light: Avivah Zornberg and the tale of Joseph

I have long seen myself as the dissident daughter of an orthodox father, a truant who broke her father’s heart by turning my back on his cherished orthodoxy and living a more experimental way of life. It is therefore a delicate matter, this fascination of mine with the Other Daughter – the good girl – the one whose father did not call out after her in censure, the one whose aptitude for learning was cultivated on her father’s knee, the one who no doubt offered both her parents much solace.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Orthodox." (Viewed on September 17, 2014) <http://jwa.org/blog/orthodox>.

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