Content type

Israeli Women's Writing in Hebrew: 1948-2004

Women writers faced many obstacles in the early years of modern Hebrew, but by the end of the twentieth century they had overcome marginalization to become a central part of the country’s literature. The achievements of women’s writing in Hebrew rank among the unquestionable triumphs of Israeli feminism.

Leah Horowitz

Leah Horowitz was a Ukrainian scholar who wrote extensively about what she thought the role of women should be in Judaism. She emphasized the importance of women’s prayer and drew from the stories of the Hebrew matriarchs to argue that women’s work should be acknowledged and that they have power beyond their marriages.

Rose (Berman) Goldstein

An early advocate of increased rights and responsibilities for women in Jewish life, Rose Goldstein was a prominent leader in the National Women’s League of the United Synagogue of America. She published a book detailing her relationship between scripture and her own self-understanding in 1972.

Festivals and Holy Days

According to halakhah, women are responsible for obeying all of Judaism’s negative commandments and for observing most of the positive ones, including the Sabbath and all of the festivals and holy days of the Jewish year. In some instances, however, male and female obligations on these days differ.

Marcia Falk

Marcia Falk is a poet, translator, and liturgist whose knowledge of the Bible and of Hebrew and English literature informs the feminist spiritual vision of her work. She is widely considered one of the foremothers of, and foremost contributors to, the Jewish feminist movement.

Dulcea of Worms

Dulcea of Worms was the wife of Rabbi Eleazar ben Judah of Worms, a major rabbinic figure. They were part of the elite leadership class of medieval Germany Jewry. Eleazar’s account of Dulcea’s murder in 1196 is an important source for the activities of medieval Jewish women.


After the establishment of the Inquisition in 1478, observance of crypto-Judaism became dangerous and more difficult. Women were at the center of Judaizing efforts, since the home was the only remaining institution in which one could observe Jewish law. Crypto-Jewish women most frequently observed the Sabbath and dietary laws.

Sarah Bas Tovim

Sarah bas Tovim was an elusive figure, and the difficulty of documenting her life has led to doubts about her very existence. She is the author, or more precisely the composer, of two works published in the eighteenth century: Tkhine shaar ha-yikhed al oylemes (The Tkhine of the Gate of Unification concerning the Aeons) and Tkhine shloyshe sheorim (The Tkhine of Three Gates).

What I learned from Aliza Lavie ...

Jordan Namerow

Did you know that there's a special prayer for preparing the wicks of Shabbat candles? Neither did I. This past Tuesday, I listened to Dr. Aliza Lavie discuss her book, A Jewish Woman's Prayer Book, a collection of prayers composed by and for women over hundreds of years in all parts of the world.

Kippah-Wearing Jewesses

Jordan Namerow

Confession: I am a progressive Jewish feminist with a strong aversion to wearing a kippah. I often parade around town wearing men's cargo shorts, I sport short-and-spiky fauxhawk-ish hair, and can feel at home in a tie and blazer over baggy khakis. I usually wear a tallit when I pray. But wearing a kippah in synagogue makes me feel shockingly unfeminine and terribly self-conscious.

Learning Torah in a Tent

Jordan Namerow

Today is the first day of summer, the longest day of the year… which just might be my favorite day of the year. Unofficially, June 21 is the camp season kick-off date, and for many Jewish kids and families, that’s a big deal.

The Trichitza Phenomenon

Jordan Namerow

Trichitza. A strange word, no? Until I was in Israel two weeks ago and prayed in a trichitza setting for the first time, I’d never heard the word before. Shortly thereafter, I came across a trichitza-related article in the November/December 2006 edition of New Voices. I’ve since learned that over the past few years, a growing number of communities have experimented with a trichitza, defining religious space in new, pluralizing ways.

A Pluralistic Moment on a Bus in Israel

Jordan Namerow

Having just returned from Israel, I was reminded of how differently some women’s roles are perceived outside of the pluralistic framework that defines my pocket of the American Jewish community. Since I spend my usual 9-5 day surrounded by opinionated power-house feminists, I sometimes forget that most of the world does not know this as their reality, or acknowledge that a diversity of women's roles in religious life or otherwise even exists at all.

Barbie Wears a Tallit?!

Jordan Namerow

A recent article in Lilith Magazine entitled “How Do Women Define the Sacred?” speaks to the ways in which handmade tallitot (prayer shawls) have become central aspects of Jewish women’s spirituality. Though women have become increasingly enfranchised over the past several decades in many areas of Jewish life, the bulk of religious liturgy is reflective of Judaism’s patriarchal origins. And so, handmade women’s tallitot challenge a prayer legacy primarily composed and transmitted by and for men.


Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

Get JWA in your inbox