Judaism-Orthodox

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Black and white photo of three women laughing in a kitchen

Let’s Fight for Gender Equality Across All Branches of Judaism

Savoy Curry

We shouldn’t assume that “progressive” branches of Judaism are always more feminist than traditional ones.

Shmutz Book Cover by Felicia Berliner

“Shmutz” Subverts the Traditional Ex-Orthodoxy Narrative

Chanel Dubofsky

Felicia Berliner's debut novel Shmutz upends the notion of a binary choice so frequently seen in literature concerning Jews living unhappily in insular communities.

Helène Aylon

Helene Aylon was an American, New York-based, multimedia visual artist who began by creating process art in the 1970s, focused on anti-nuclear and eco-activist art by the 1980s, and subsequently devoted more than 35 years to the multi-partite installation The G-d Project. This last body of work’s often direct or indirect textuality resonates from and responds to Judaism’s traditionally male-dominated textuality as part of a larger commentary on women in Judaism.

Sara Hurwitz

Sara Hurwitz was the first Orthodox woman to be publicly ordained and serve in an Orthodox synagogue, the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale. She went on to co-found, with Rabbi Avi Weiss, Yeshivat Maharat, the first institution to provide a credentialed pathway for Orthodox women to be ordained and serve as rabbis.

Sarah Gorbatov in Her Grandmother’s Traditional Belarusian Clothing

"Invisibility Cloak": Uncovering My Identity as a Descendant of Soviet Jews

Sarah Gorbatov

I’m the daughter of an immigrant family, and nothing appealed to my Soviet Jewish family more than the idea of invisibility.

Haredi Women's Filmmaking in Israel

In the early twenty-first century, Haredi cinema began to flourish, first in Israel and then in the United States and elsewhere. Haredi women have made films that focus on relationships among women, that are often much more aesthetically elaborate than Haredi men’s films, and that address issues that until recently were considered taboo.

Rama Burshtein

Rama Burshtein’s films are among the most important created by a Haredi woman. Her first commercial film was shown exclusively to Haredi women, but Burshtein found the conventions of Haredi cinema poorly suited to her artistic aspirations, and her later films were aimed at the nonreligious world.

Agunot

Agunot are women who are unable to obtain a rabbinic divorce because their husbands or husbands’ male next of kin are unable to give one, leaving them chained in marital captivity. Although many efforts have been made to address these problems, for those most part agunot in halakhically observant communities continue to face deep-seated challenges.

Yeshivat Maharat

Founded by Rabba Sara Hurwitz and Rabbi Avi Weiss, Yeshivat Maharat is the first Orthodox rabbinical school to ordain women. Building upon expanding education and ritual roles for Orthodox women in America that began in the late twentieth century, themselves outgrowths of American feminism, as of 2021 Yeshivat Maharat had graduated over forty women who powerfully impact Orthodox and wider Jewish communities all over the world.

Young Women Praying at the Wall

Create a Space for Women to Pray in Our Synagogues

Rena Kosowsky

As a Modern Orthodox Jew, prayer spaces for women (or lack thereof) in synagogues I've attended have made me feel like an outsider in my own religious space.

Debra Renee Kaufman

Debra R. Kaufman has been a central voice in sociology, feminist studies, and Jewish Studies for over four decades. Her scholarship has spanned topics such as the role of women in Orthodox Judaism, post-Holocaust Jewish identity narratives, and contemporary American Jewish identity.

Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance

JOFA, the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, was the first Orthodox feminist organization in the United States. Since 1997, it has striven to expand Jewish women's religious and spiritual roles within the parameters of halakhah and to address specific halakhic issues related to women in marriage and divorce. JOFA provides practical suggestions for increasing women's participation in religious rituals and halakhic-theoretical views on modern Jewish observance.

Partnership Minyan

The Partnership Minyan is an Orthodox feminist prayer service that seeks to maximize women’s involvement in prayers while adhering to Jewish law, or halakha, by placing the bima (podium) in the middle and allowing women to lead select sections, although women do not count as part of the quorum of ten men. There are currently over 80 Partnership Minyanim around the world.

Adina Bar-Shalom

Adina Bar-Shalom defines herself as a Haredi woman, not a feminist but a go-getter. She is involved in and has initiated Israeli cultural, public and political activities in conjunction with secular organizations and activists and has participated in many social fora.

Sarah Rodrigues Brandon

Sarah Rodrigues Brandon (1798-1828) was born poor, enslaved, and Christian on the island of Barbados. By the time of her death thirty years later she was one of the wealthiest Jews in New York and her family were leaders in Congregation Shearith Israel. This entry explains Sarah’s life journey and highlights how her story relates to that of other women of mixed African and Jewish ancestry in early America.

Illustration of Figures Celebrating with Candles in Background

Shabbat During the 2020 Election Week: Finding Community and Solidarity

Simone Miller

On Shabbat, our Mexican American neighbors informed our largely Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of the results: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris had won. 

Colorful Geometric Watercolor Background

Confronting My Assumptions about Orthodox Judaism

Jessie Schwalb

I have come to understand that no sect is a monolith.

Glasses Resting on Open Tanakh

The “Jewish Women Question”: Can Women Learn Gemara?

Rena Kosowsky

I’ve learned the value of endurance in activism through my experience with Talmud learning.

White chairs against a black wall

A Seat at My Orthodox Jewish School’s Ma’ariv Service

Lana Klein

There were no chairs in the women's section of my school's shul. 

Screen capture from Unorthodox

Is "Unorthodox" Good for the Jews?

Justine Orlovsky-Schnitzler

For Jews, representation onscreen is complicated. Does Unorthodox succeed?

Neima Fax reading from the Torah.

The Aliyah Situation

Neima Fax

That Simchat Torah, I saw the Torah not as something I had easy access to, but something generations of women had to fight to even touch.

Open Torah scroll with yad.

Leining: A Balancing Act

Ellie Klibaner-Schiff

Existing at the border between modern and traditional values often feels like teetering across a balance beam.

Abby Stein Publicly Comes Out as the First Trans Woman from an ultra-Orthodox Community

November 11, 2015

Abby Stein was the first member from an ultra-Orthodox community to come out as a trans woman.

Emma Goldman/Women of the Wall

Making Space Where There is None

Ilana Jacobs

To ask for the space you need is a daunting, terrifying task. But to take the space you need without permission? That’s even more challenging. Emma Goldman and Avigail Antman are two women who refused to settle for less, and who weren’t afraid to demand more. 

Composite Image of Jew in the City Logo with Allison Josephs.

Building Bridges: An Interview with Allison Josephs

Abby Richmond

There are extremists on both the right and the left...by the extremist left I’m often called an apologist, by the extremist right, I’m called immodest or a heretic. There will be extremists on both sides who won’t engage in conversation because they pre-judge me, because I’m Orthodox, or a woman, or whatever.

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