As the rosh yeshiva (religious head) of Yeshiva University from 1941–1985 and chief legal decisor for Modern Orthodox Jews in America, Joseph Dov Soloveitchik shaped Jewish practice and public opinion through the era of second-wave feminism. The scion of a 200-year rabbinic dynasty, Soloveitchik earned both a religious and a secular education, culminating in his studies at Friedrich Wilhelm University in Berlin and his 1932 PhD. That year, he settled in Boston, where he created the Maimonides School, which offered both boys and girls unprecedented, thorough training in religious and secular subjects. In 1941 he succeeded his father as rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva University, continuing his practice of blending the best of religious and secular education and training two generations of rabbis. Despite offering women education in Talmud and other religious subjects at Maimonides and at YU’s Stern College, in his legal rulings and his theological writings, he maintained that women and men had separate religious and familial roles. He was against mixed seating in synagogues, and speculated that Jewish feminists wanted to participate in services out of political motives, not real religious feeling. These positions from the leader of the Modern Orthodox community cemented resistance to Orthodox feminists increasing their participation in Jewish ritual.
More on Joseph Dov Soloveitchik
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Joseph Dov Soloveitchik." (Viewed on July 10, 2020) <https://jwa.org/people/soloveitchik-joseph>.