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Feminism: More Than Just a Lens to View the World

Somewhere towards the end of my freshman year of high school, I became the class feminist. You know, the girl who always has to speak up about slut-shaming and rape culture and “where are the women in this narrative?”

I had begun to read feminist blogs, and the critical gender lens they used on everything from history, to clothing, to everything in between rapidly became part of my worldview. Right as I was hitting my stride as “that angry feminist,” I studied in the Dr. Beth Samuels High School Program at Drisha in New York. In addition to being a feminist, I was (and remain) a lover of Talmud. Spending the summer with other girls who took Judaism and Jewish text study seriously was a formative experience for me.

The erudite feminist women who taught us became my role models. (It was not unusual for us “Drishettes” to enthusiastically exclaim to one another that “I want to be insert-name-of-teacher-here when I grow up!” after a particularly great class.)

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.
Read part one here.
Read part two here.

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?

Laughter, Ritual, and the Pew Study

To paraphrase the legendary Joni Mitchell, I have looked at the Pew Study results from both sides now. I can see how the disconnect with Jewish ritual can be disconcerting and I see how the community’s freedom to identify themselves openly as Jews is incredibly empowering. There’s been a lot of talk about how to interpret the study and where to go from here, but I wonder if we might already have the tools we need to bridge the gaps noted in the study, using some of the traits that the study said best identify the Jewish community.

Savina Teubal

Savina Teubal was an accomplished biblical scholar and the founding president of Sarah’s Tent: Sheltering Creative Jewish Spirituality. Sarah’s Tent is an organization that offers Shabbat dinners, retreats, classes, and holiday festivities such as Pesach seders and Rosh Chodesh gatherings.

Marge Piercy

Marge Piercy is the author of 17 novels including the New York Times Bestseller Gone To Soldiers, the national bestseller The Longings of Women, and the classic Woman on the Edge of Time; 17 volumes of poetry; and the critically acclaimed memoir Sleeping with Cats.

Lori Lefkovitz

Lori Hope Lefkovitz is the Sadie Gottesman and Arlene Gottesman Reff Professor of Gender and Judaism at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and Director of Kolot: The Center for Jewish Women's and Gender Studies. Kolot has a scholarly agenda as well as a mission to deliver the fruits of the academy to living Judaism.

Sally Gottesman

Sally Gottesman’s bat mitzvah experience influenced almost all areas of her adult life – it made her believe that change was possible in the Jewish community, and today she is a management consultant to not-for-profit organizations, working primarily in the Jewish community with organizations such as American Jewish World Service, Tzedek Hillel, and The Hebrew Free Loan Society.

Maralee Gordon

Maralee Gordon has been focused on the intersection of Jewish community, education, social action, and spiritual connection her entire adult life. An educator in the Chicago Jewish community, she has taught all ages, from two-year-olds through senior citizens.

Merle Feld

Merle Feld, poet and playwright, was born and raised in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, in an assimilated family. In college her curiosity about Jewish life and her desire to find a community drew Feld to Hillel, where she found a deep and enduring connection to Judaism and Jewish life.

Marcia Falk

Marcia Falk is a poet, translator, and liturgist, who has been a professor of literature and creative writing at SUNY Binghamton, the Claremont Colleges, and Hebrew Union College. She is the author of The Book of Blessings, a bilingual re-creation of Jewish prayer in poetic forms, written from a nonhierarchical, gender-inclusive perspective.


How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Ritual." (Viewed on November 24, 2015) <>.


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