Lisa Mednick-Owen is a Jewish feminist who has been actively involved in advocating for gender equality within the Jewish community. Born in Los Angeles, California, in 1958, Lisa grew up in the San Fernando Valley. Her parents, despite having no religious training themselves, decided that their children should have a different experience. They joined a Conservative synagogue, where Lisa was raised in a warm and friendly environment. The synagogue encouraged the full participation of women in rituals and leadership roles. Lisa embraced this egalitarian community and became involved in various Jewish activities, including attending Camp Ramah and later becoming a counselor there. Lisa's awareness of gender inequality extended beyond Judaism, and she identified as a feminist early on. However, she initially did not connect her feminism with Judaism. It was when she moved to the East Coast, specifically joining B'nai Jeshurun, an egalitarian synagogue in New York City, that she realized the limitations placed on women in other Jewish communities. B'nai Jeshurun felt like home to Lisa, reminiscent of the egalitarian and participatory environment she experienced at Camp Ramah. Raising her children within this inclusive and socially conscious community was a blessing for Lisa.
In her interview, Lisa reflects on the accomplishments of Jewish feminism and acknowledges that there is still work to be done, particularly in traditional and Orthodox Jewish communities. She expresses concern for women in those communities who lack a voice and are constrained by rigid gender roles. Lisa believes that Jewish feminism can offer guidance and examples in addressing broader feminist issues beyond Judaism. She points out that Judaism promotes respect for human beings and has the potential to address topics such as sexual assault by emphasizing respect, kindness, and compassion. Lisa sees organizations like the Jewish Women's Archive as important in advancing the agenda of gender equality in Jewish life. By working on egalitarian issues within Judaism, these organizations provide a model for expanding equality to other aspects of society. Lisa also highlights the importance of self-determination for women within traditional Orthodox communities and the need for Jewish feminism to address interfaith relationships and multiculturalism in the Jewish community. Drawing from her experience in the legal profession, Lisa suggests that Judaism should be mindful of power dynamics and relationships, similar to what is observed in the corporate world. Conversely, she believes that the corporate world can learn from Judaism in terms of promoting equality, respecting individuals, and giving people a voice. Lisa recognizes the challenges faced by future generations, including her own children. She believes that achieving equality within the Orthodox community and addressing broader issues such as interfaith relationships and multiculturalism will be significant challenges. Additionally, she sees the role of Judaism in guiding discussions on topics like sexual assault, using the values of respect, compassion, and equality. Finally, Lisa values the progress made so far but emphasizes the ongoing need to address remaining challenges and promote a more equitable and respectful society.
How to cite this page
Oral History of Lisa Mednick-Owen. Interviewed by Jayne Guberman. 8 February 2015. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on December 11, 2023) <https://jwa.org/oralhistories/mednick-owen-lisa>.
Oral History of Lisa Mednick-Owen by the Jewish Women's Archive is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://jwa.org/contact/OralHistory.