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Hannah Mayer Stone

A pioneering physician and advocate of birth control, Hannah Stone defied both New York City police and the federal government in her efforts to make contraception legal and available to American women in the early twentieth century.


Required of women who are suspected of committing adultery, sotah is a ritual involving a priest to confirm whether the act occurred or not; a woman who has been unfaithful is made infertile. There are few records of sotah actually taking place, although the ritual is described at length in some post-Biblical literature.

Sotah, Tractate

The Mishnaic Tractate Sotah deals mainly with the trial by ordeal undergone in the Temple by a sotah, a woman whose husband suspected her of adultery. Compared to that described in the Bible, the Mishnaic trial is much harsher and transforms the ritual into a judgement on immoral behavior, not just marital infidelity. Furthermore, the Mishnaic sotah was unusually stringent for its time and is rarely mentioned after the Mishnah.

Bertha Solomon

As one of the first women’s rights activists in South Africa, Bertha Solomon used her positions as one of the first practicing women advocates in South Africa and as a member of parliament to work to expand the rights of all South African women. Throughout her long career in government, Solomon acted as a parliamentary watchdog over women’s rights, committed to ensuring women’s suffrage and marital rights.


Over the last several decades, Jewish women attained significant achievement in the socio-economic sphere and played a leading role in maintaining Jewish continuity. In general, Jewish women are educated and participate in the labor force at higher rates than their non-Jewish counterparts.

Benjamin Aron Slonik

Benjamin Aron Slonik, a Polish rabbi and student of the Maharshal and Rema, was notable for his independent approach to halakha. His rulings often went against his colleagues, including on women’s halakhot.

Shelomith 1: Midrash and Aggadah

The narrative of Shelomith is used by the Rabbis as the exception that proves the rule of Israelite marital fidelity. One tradition relates that her son was born out of wedlock with an Egyptian man who deceived her, while another says that her son was born to an Egyptian man after the former murdered her Israelite husband.

She'erit ha-Peletah: Women in DP Camps in Germany

Family played an important role in the lives of Holocaust survivors in DP (displaced persons) camps – in 1947, the birth rate in DP camps was one of the highest in the world. Women served as teachers and eager students, and they were active in the effort to open immigration to Palestine.

Samaritan Sect

Samaritan liturgy featured women prominently and showed them in positions of power. However, there is a lack of women in the current Samaritan community, and any Samaritan women are subject to strict laws. Marriage between cousins is common, rules pertaining to divorce and adultery favor the man, and stringent laws surround ritual purity.

Russian Immigrants in Israel

Approximately 350,000 Jewish women moved to Israel from the Former Soviet Union after 1989. Among the key issues they faced were occupational downgrading, sexuality and family life, sexual harassment, marital distress, and single-parent families.

Feminist Jewish Ritual: An International Perspective

Beginning with the first bat mitzvah, Jewish women began adapting traditional ceremonies to focus on women and their experiences. Other rituals have been created for parts of the female life cycle such as menstruation or childbirth. However, there continues to be a lack of recognition of women in recently created holidays that are based on nationalist and Zionist beliefs.

Reproductive Technology, New (NRT)

New reproductive technology has provided the solution for problems of infertility for hundreds of thousands of couples. For halakhically observant Jews, especially in the pro-natal state of Israel and in general in the post-Holocaust era, this technology has been a blessing but has also created a multitude of halakhic problems.


The medieval commentator Rashi, through his commentary and halakhic works, was an advocate for improving the status of women, introducing innovative exegesis to support his views. His followers, the Tosafists, would continue to innovate and support Jewish women.

Rachel, Wife of Rabbi Akiva

Rachel is the name given to the wife of Rabbi Akiva in medieval sources. Various stories in rabbinic literature depict her as supporting her husband in his efforts to study Torah with great personal sacrifice.


Whether or not women were a part of the Essenes’ Qumran settlement, they do appear in Qumran literature. Women in the halakhic writing are only discussed when there are explicit rulings about women’s issues. Halakhic literature shows that women were excluded from all facets of public life and generally were subject to strict halakhic rulings.

Post-Biblical and Rabbinic Women

IIn antiquity, the treatment of women drew from patriarchal biblical traditions. Despite a few notable exceptions, women had minimal legal rights but were active participants in alternative Jewish sects and could hold office. As rabbinic material was codified, control over women increased, although the literature was not exclusively restrictive towards women.

Poverty: Jewish Women in Medieval Egypt

The documents recovered from the Cairo Genizah give insight into the lives of Jewish women in poverty in medieval Egypt. Without husbands, women were often left without any means of earning a living, though the Jewish community assumed responsibility for providing for widows.

Poland: Interwar

A minority habitually ignored by scholars, Polish-Jewish women played important roles in the changing cultural and political framework of the interwar years.

Rabbi Ben-Zion Meir Hai Ouziel

Rabbi Ben-Zion Hai Ouziel was the Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel. Ouziel believed women could vote and be elected, serve as judges, use birth control for health reasons, and inherit property. He proposed a marriage formula that would prevent women from becoming agunot (“chained”).

Old Yishuv: Palestine at the End of the Ottoman Period

Women of the Old Yishuv saw their immigration to the Holy Land as serving spiritual sanctification at the expense of material suffering. Jewish women lived restricted lives as the result of child marriage, high infant mortality rates, and being confined to the domestic sphere in the Old Yishuv.

Jewish Women in New Zealand

Although New Zealand’s Jewish community is small, “Kiwi” Jewish women have punched well above their weight and account for a significant number of the country’s “historic firsts” and remarkable achievements.

Nature of Women

Rabbinic literature is replete with implications concerning the differences in the respective natures of men and women. Often the portrayals are paradoxical, citing opinions that describe seemingly opposite traits. The broader reality, however, often balanced a narrow reading of the text.

The Jewish Family in Early Twentieth-Century United States

As poor Jewish immigrant families poured into the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, concerned social workers, rabbis, sisterhood presidents and journalists sounded an alarm about the state of the Jewish family. Women often bore the blame for what was seen as the weakening of the Jewish home, and communal organizations devoted much attention to strengthening the Jewish family.

Modesty and Sexuality in Halakhic Literature

Though it is not mentioned in the Bible, modesty (zeni'ut) has become a significant part of modern halakhah, especially in the realm of sexuality. For women, sexual modesty means covering up their bodies. For both men and women, modesty also entails certain behavioral rules. These modesty rules ensure that sex happens in a way that is deemed proper, in the right time and place.

Merab: Bible

Merab, one of the daughters of King Saul, is originally offered in marriage to David, whom Saul hopes to have killed. However, Saul’s plan fails, and Merab marries another man. The story of Saul’s attempt to arrange Merab’s marriage shows the social structures between fathers and daughters among the ancient Israelites.


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