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Rachel Adler receives National Jewish Book Award

March 11, 1999
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Feminist theologian Rachel Adler elaborated upon her novel approach to Jewish law in her work Engendering Judaism, in which she both identified Judaism's goal as the "creation of a better world" and delineated the way in which an "inclusive Judaism" would enable both women and men to achieve this messianic goal.

Institution: Hebrew Union College, Los Angeles


Rachel Adler was awarded the National Jewish Book Award for Jewish Thought on March 11, 1999. The award recognized Engendering Judaism: A New Theology and Ethics, which set forth a new model for integrating modern feminism with traditional Jewish theology.

Adler's work applies feminist theory to traditional Jewish texts. In perhaps her most radical integration of modern feminism and traditional Judaism, Adler's last chapter proposes a new marriage ceremony based on the Jewish laws of partnership. Adler suggests that rather than fighting for the inclusion of gay and lesbian Jews in the traditional Jewish wedding ritual, progressive Jews should question and replace the traditional ceremony which is about a groom taking ownership of his bride.

The book, while considered radical by some critics, was hailed as a groundbreaking contribution by others. The Journal of the American Academy of Religion called it "not only the most sophisticated and important book in the field of Jewish feminist thought but a study that can serve as a model for all feminist theological writings."

Adler is Professor of Modern Jewish Thought and Judaism and Gender at the School of Religion, University of Southern California and the Rabbinical School at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. In addition, she serves on the editorial boards of Tikkun, Shofar, and Nashim, and as a member of the academic board of the Institute for Progressive Halacha.

To learn more about Rachel Adler, visit Jewish Women and the Feminist Revolution and Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia.

See also: Feminist Theology.

Sources:www.huc.edu/news/adleraward.html; www.jewishpub.org/product.php?isbn=9780827605848; Rachel Adler, Engendering Judaism: An Inclusive Theology and Ethics (Philadelphia, 1998); Jewish Women and the Feminist Revolution, jwa.org/feminism/index.html?id=JWA001.

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Jewish Women's Archive. "This Week in History - Rachel Adler receives National Jewish Book Award." (Viewed on April 23, 2014) <http://jwa.org/thisweek/mar/11/1999/rachel-adler>.