Dina Rosenfeld

b. 1949

Dina Rosenfeld was born in Bistrita, Romania in 1949. She and her mother immigrated to the United States in 1960, where she grew up in Boro Park, Brooklyn. Both of her parents were Holocaust survivors. She attended CUNY Brooklyn College and became a counselor at Camp Ramah. Eventually, she became one of the founding members of Ezrat Nashim, a women's study group dedicated to rectifying inequalities in Judaism. She earned degrees from the Yeshiva University of Social Work and now works as a Clinical Associate Professor at NYU Silver School of Social Work. She serves as an adoption consultant and community educator and works with the Multiple Sclerosis Society. 

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Dina talks about immigrating to Boro Park from Bistrita, Romania, and growing up in the Satmar Hasidic sect. She found this community restrictive, especially in terms of gender roles. Dina describes her awakening to Jewish feminism after becoming a counselor at Camp Ramah and meeting members of the New York Havurah, a Jewish study group that began in 1970. She recounts how, at one group meeting, after hearing a man give a talk that she found offensively masculinist, she and her friend Martha went into another room to begin talking about their perspectives. This encounter launched Ezrat Nashim, a Jewish women's study group. Dina describes the early days of Ezrat Nashim when the group was focused on confronting the Jewish Theological Seminary about its lack of acceptance of women. She tells an anecdote about a trip the group took to a convention for rabbis, where their car spun out of control on the way there. The group stormed the seminary, took the microphone, and delivered speeches about their movement's goals. Dina recounts the surprisingly positive reactions from the attendees and reflects on their group's "entitled" attitude at a time when young people were so engaged in activism; she states that the group gained its power through "a lot of chutzpah." Dina discusses the most important accomplishments of Jewish feminism, especially women's active participation in religious services. She talks about how contemporary young women are still at a disadvantage because they now face the pressure of having to succeed professionally and the pressures of having a normative family life. Dina also reflects on how the broader feminist movement influenced her involvement with Jewish feminism through the consciousness-raising groups in which she and other Ezrat Nashim founders were involved. Finally, Dina turns ahead to the next generation, wondering what feminism will look like in the wake of the progress that Ezrat Nashim and similar groups achieved for Jewish feminism. 

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How to cite this page

Oral History of Dina Rosenfeld. Interviewed by Jayne Guberman. 8 February 2015. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on February 29, 2024) <http://jwa.org/oralhistories/rosenfeld-dina>.

Oral History of Dina Rosenfeld 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.