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Religious Movements

10 Things You Should Know About Gertrude Weil

Gertrude Weil was born in Goldsboro, North Carolina in 1879. Her father, an immigrant from Germany, was among the business and civic leaders of the community. At the age of 15, she was sent to Horace Mann High School in New York City. She went on to Smith College, where, in 1901, she became the first graduate from North Carolina.

Planting the seed: Memories of "The Feminine Mystique"

There’s a lot of buzz these days about Stephanie Coontz’s new book A Strong Stirring, an assessment of Betty Friedans’s 1963 manifesto The Feminine Mystique. It’s stirring up some personal memories of my own.

Frum, fashion, and feminism

Jewish designers are a staple on the fashion scene – famous names like Zac Posen, Isaac Mizrahi, Max Azria, Kenneth Cole, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Diane Von Furstenberg, Ralph Lauren are all members of the tribe. A few years ago, Slate even published a story called “The Rise of Schmatte Chic”, which chronicled the fleeting trend of Orthodox Jewish influence in runway fashion.

Eating disorders and Orthodoxy

I’ve never been particularly offended by the various cultural stereotypes of Jewish women that portray us being zaftig, food-loving mamalehs-in-the-making; as someone who falls perfectly within the parameters of this description, I tend to favor anything that lends legitimacy to my, uh, lovely lady lumps. But when it comes to Jewish women’s body image, there may be a darker reality lurking out of the sight of stereotypes.

Who is Yalta?

This weekend has been very exciting for me–the synagogue that my family belongs to is hosting Sara Hurwitz as a guest speaker. For those of you haven’t heard of her: after studying for seven years at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, she was given the title of “maharat” by Rabbi Avi Weiss (an Orthodox rabbi) in March 2009, and deemed a Jewish spiritual and halachic leader.

Shulamis Yelin, 1913 - 2002

Shulamis Yelin came into my life at my grandmother's shiva. With auburn hair, bright pink lipstick and a multi-colored patchwork jacket, she didn't look like any other "old" person who had come to pay her respects and clearly that's the way she liked it. She didn't talk in hushed tones and she didn't say false things like "it's going to get better." After the minyan was over she asked me to walk her home. She did this like a girl of sixteen offering to take her girlfriend out for milkshakes to save her from too much family and too much death.

The scary subtext of "rethinking egalitarianism"

Last week in the Forward, Jay Michaelson writes about the need to rethink egalitarianism.  Egalitarian synagogues, he says, tend to be egalitarian in only one way: everyone is equally bored.  (“Egalitarian” in American Jewish life has historically referred to prayer services where men and women can both participate fully and take on leadership roles.)  He talks about friends who attend Orthodox prayer services because they find more meaning in the service, and about how attempts at inclusiveness and egalitarianism often translate into long responsive readings in English where nobody really believes a word.

First Torah commissioned to be scribed entirely by women is read in Seattle

October 16, 2010

The Kadima Reconstructionist Jewish Community in Seattle read from the first Torah ever commissioned to be written by women, and the first ever to be written by a group of women, known as the Women's Torah Project.

Will America's Next Top Model Be Modern Orthodox?

There has been a lot of talk lately in the Jewish community about a particular contestant on the CW’s reality hit America’s Next Top Model (ANTM). Esther Petrack, an 18-year-old, self-identified Modern Orthodox Jew, is an aspiring model on the show. When asked by Tyra Banks, the show’s host, whether or not she observed Shabbat, Esther said yes and proceeded to explain all that that entailed. But Tyra fired back that contestants on ANTM work on every day of the week. Would Esther be prepared to break the Sabbath in pursuit of her modeling dreams? “Yes, I would do it,” Esther replied.

New Torah scroll presented to the Beth Israel Synagogue in New Orleans

August 27, 2006

Jackie Gothard thanks Hayley Fields for Torah scroll on behalf of Beth Israel Synagogue in New Orleans.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Religious Movements." (Viewed on September 22, 2014) <http://jwa.org/topics/religious-movements>.

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