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Women's Studies

Gloria Greenfield

Gloria Z. Greenfield has served as director of the Adult Learning Collaborative: A Program of Combined Jewish Philanthropies and Hebrew College since 2001. One of the key programs in the Collaborative is the Jewish Women's Studies initiative, which brings the leading Jewish feminist scholars from North America, Europe, and Israel to Boston.

Ann J. Lane, 1931 - 2013

Born in Brooklyn, Ann Lane completed all of her schooling in New York City. She earned a BA from Brooklyn College in English in 1952, an MA in sociology from New York University in 1958, and a PhD in American History from Columbia University in 1968.

She began her academic career at what was then the women’s college of Rutgers University. In 1971 she moved to John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York, where she served for 12 years as Professor of History and Chair of the American Studies Program.

Tefillin Barbie: Considering Gender and Ritual Garb

Do women in your community wear tefillin and tallit when they pray? Do you? For many, the relationship between gender and ritual garb is still evolving, as Jews consider their personal and communal associations with these objects and practices. This Go & Learn guide uses the provocative image of "Tefillin Barbie"—created in 2006 by soferet (ritual scribe) Jen Taylor Friedman—to explore issues of gender, ritual, and body image.

Lilith Evolved: Writing Midrash

In this Go and Learn, guide, we explore the notion of midrash and highlight "The Coming of Lilith" by theologian Judith Plaskow as an example of how contemporary Jewish feminists have created their own midrashim—retellings of biblical stories—in order to incorporate women's viewpoints into the traditional texts of Judaism. In writing their own versions of these texts, Plaskow and her peers have made Judaism more inclusive of the voices and perspectives of all people who engage in its teachings.

Queen Esther and Bella Abzug: Costumes, Leadership, and Identity

On Purim we dress in costume to create a new persona. We delight in unexpected images. We poke holes in the humdrum everyday roles of men and women, rich and poor, young and old. Our assumptions about people shift, and thus, the holiday transforms us.

Writing Home: A Letter from an Early American Jew

We know little about Rebecca Samuel, the author of the featured document in this guide, outside of what her letters provide for us: a slice of her life as a Jewish woman in early America. In this letter, originally written in Yiddish in the 1790s to her parents in Hamburg, Germany, Samuel describes her life in Petersburg, Virginia. She vividly portrays the challenges of keeping a Jewish household, her wishes for her children, and her excitement about the prospect of moving to Charleston, South Carolina. This Go & Learn guide uses Rebecca Samuel’s captivating letter as a centerpiece for interactive sessions about Jewish immigration and the development of the Jewish community in America.

Benevolent Societies and Tzedakah

How do you give tzedakah (charity)? Although Jewish women’s and men’s religious roles have differed for much of history, Jewish laws and teachings regarding a person’s responsibility to help those in need have always applied to both sexes. This Go & Learn guide explores different ways that American Jewish women historically—and we today—fulfill the obligation of tzedakah and gemilut chesed (acts of loving kindness).

Gerda Lerner, 1920 - 2013

Gerda Lerner's life and work so inextricably intertwined, gained prominence thanks to her fearless, continual examination of the world.

"In our culture, and in most patriarchal cultures, we have made an artificial division between thinking and acting, as though the two were mutually exclusive," she said in a 2002 interview with the Wisconsin Academy Review. "The most important thing, the thing I have always lived by, is that you must be engaged in some way in the world in which you live. How, is for each person to choose."

Remembering Gerda Lerner: The "Mother" of Women's History

Gerda Lerner, pioneer in women’s history, remarkable public intellectual, and life-long activist, died this week in Wisconsin at the age of 92. A member of JWA’s Academic Advisory Council, she was enthusiastic about our mission of chronicling and transmitting the history of Jewish women. No historian was more identified with the field of women’s history. Receiving her Ph.D. at the age of 46, she wrote a series of groundbreaking books in which she almost singlehandedly created a conceptual framework for the field.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Women's Studies." (Viewed on October 1, 2014) <http://jwa.org/topics/womens-studies>.

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