You are here

Share Share Share Share Share Share Share

Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA)

Orthodox Feminism

A lot of people leave Orthodoxy because of the sexism. Honestly, it’s really hard to stay. Being a teenager with friends who are all forming their identities, I struggle with this a lot. Many of my friends are leaving the movement because they are tired of tirelessly fighting, enduring, and never being equal. 

Sara Hurwitz

Upon becoming the first Modern Orthodox woman rabbi ordained in the United States, Sara Hurwitz took on the title “Rabba.”

Belda Lindenbaum, 1938 - 2015

In 2009, when Rabbi Weiss and I founded Yeshivat Maharat, the first institution to ordain Orthodox women as clergy, there was only one person who we knew would be crazy enough to dream with us. I went to see Belda, to ask for seed funding. I was nervous. Having only just been ordained myself, I was not a fundraiser. So I took Rabbi Jeff Fox, our Rosh Yeshiva, along with me. We sat together and talked about an Orthodox Jewish community where men and women could be partners in spiritual leadership. Then, Rabbi Fox asked her for a gift.

JAP? Nah, I'm a JAF.

Nearly every Jewish woman is familiar with the stereotype of the Jewish American Princess (JAP). You probably went to camp or high school or college with that girl, you know, the one who got a nose job the summer before eleventh grade, or the one who talked loudly about her tour of Europe over winter break. Even if you’re not really the jappy type, whenever you acted remotely bratty or spoiled, there it was: someone telling you to stop acting like a JAP.

Blu Greenberg

Arguing that feminism could become a way into Judaism instead of a reason to leave the faith, JOFA founder Blu Greenberg created new possibilities for Orthodox feminist Jews.

JOFA: Beyond Belief - Part 3

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

Susan Reimer-Torn: Do most JOFA women want full inclusion in Jewish ritual life as currently practiced by men? Or are they looking for another, more woman-oriented approach to the communal or spiritual experience?

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.


How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA)." (Viewed on October 23, 2016) <>.


Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

Sign Up for JWA eNews


Discover Education Programs

Join our growing community of educators.

view programs