Women’s and Gender Studies

Content type
Collection

Riv-Ellen Prell

Anthropologist Riv-Ellen Prell initiated ethnographic study of ordinary American Jews that paid attention to religion, gender, ritual, and cultural performance. Her work addresses the primacy of gender in twentieth-century Jewish life and looks at economic and power relations often expressed through negative stereotypes of Jewish women.

Julie Rosewald

Julie Eichberg Rosewald was America’s first woman cantor. Known as the “Cantor Soprano” at Temple Emanu-El in San Francisco, she served between 1884 and 1893. Rosewald enjoyed a brilliantly successful career in opera as well as being a composer, author, teacher, and professor of music.

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 Women in the New Testament

The New Testament describes Jewish women’s social roles in the late Second Temple period: in the home, in business ventures (especially textiles), in synagogues and the Temple, serving as patrons of the early Jesus movement, and as suffering from and being healed of various ailments. Despite the variety of examples of women’s agency, many Christian interpreters paint an historically inaccurate picture of a misogynistic culture in order to show Jesus, Paul, and their early movement as progressive on women’s issues. 

Women and Sephardic Music

Ladino or Judeo-Spanish Sephardic songs are primarily a women’s repertoire. The two main traditions are that of northern Morocco and the Eastern Mediterranean, primarily today’s Turkey, Greece, the Balkans.

Gerda Lerner with TikTok Logo Background

What if Gerda Lerner Were on TikTok?

Lana Klein

If Gerda Lerner were alive today, I think she’d use TikTok to educate its millions of users about women’s history.

Advancing Women Professionals in the Jewish Community

Advancing Women Professionals and the Jewish Community (AWP) was founded by Shifra Bronznick in 2001 as an intervention “to advance Jewish women into leadership, stimulate new models of shared leadership, and promote policies for healthy, effective workplaces.” Over fifteen years, AWP conducted groundbreaking research and adapted strategies from other sectors that engaged women and men in decisive, systems-based change.

Kate Bornstein

Kate Bornstein is a pathbreaking transgender lesbian activist, theorist, and performance artist. She is known for tackling social ills and personal pain with joyful optimism.

Rezadeiras among Bene Anusim in Portugal

The rezadeiras, prayer-women, began to play an important role in crypto-Jewish practice after the late fifteenth-century Expulsions from Spain and then Portugal forced anyone who wanted to live as a Jew to do so in secret.  

Women Warriors

In the Hebrew Bible and ancient Jewish literature, most warriors are men. However, a few women go to war or kill: Deborah, Jael, the unnamed woman of Thebez, and Judith.

Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg

Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg is a highly regarded Torah scholar and author. Her complex interpretive lens is both contemporary, in drawing from literary sources, philosophy, and psychoanalytic theory, and very traditional, in reading the Bible through the lens of classic commentaries and rabbinic midrash.

Daughter Zion (Bat Tzion)

“Daughter Zion” or “Fair Zion” (in Hebrew bat tzion) is the personification of Jerusalem in poetic and prophetic literature. Initially, the city is positively likened to a daughter, protected under God’s special regard, but later, under the Babylonian siege, she is devastated, even ravaged. However, when Jerusalem is rebuilt, the daughter is forsaken no longer, returning to God’s grace in the prophecies of consolation.

Ministering Women and Their Mirrors

Women who ministered at the entrance of the Tabernacle gathered around to donate their copper mirrors (Exodus 38:8), which were then smelted down to make the basin where the priests would wash before entering the sanctuary. The women may have served as guards, warding off evil with their mirrors. Midrash, however, conjectures that the women used these mirrors to seduce their husbands in Egypt, raising up the hosts of Israelites.

Barren Women in the Bible

The Hebrew Bible tells six stories of barren women: three of the four matriarchs (Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel); the unnamed wife of Manoah/mother of Samson; Hannah, the mother of the prophet Samuel; and the Shunnamite woman, an acolyte of the prophet Elisha.  Each woman suffers a period of infertility, in some cases exacerbated by the presence of a fertile, though less beloved, rival wife. Eventually, God intervenes and the woman conceives, but the beloved son is then dedicated back to God, either in service or in sacrifice.

Tamar 2

The story of the rape of Tamar, the daughter of King David, by Amnon, her half-brother (2 Samuel 13) is told in the wake of the king’s sins of adultery and murder. Tamar’s is the only woman’s voice in the Bible to be heard in resistance to rape, though she is ultimately silenced by her full brother, Absalom. He murders Amnon in vengeance and stages an insurrection against the king, his father, while she lives the rest of her life forlorn in Absalom’s house.

Jamaica Kincaid

Born Elaine Cynthia Potter Richardson, Jamaica Kincaid is a Jewish Afro-Caribbean author. She was sent to the United States from her birthplace in Antigua at the age of sixteen and became a writer while living in the United States.

Louise Glück

Louise Glück, American poet, essayist, and educator, is the recipient of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature, as well as numerous other awards for her writing; she also served as poet laureate of the United States from 2003 to 2004. One finds the personal, the mythological, and the Biblical woven intricately throughout Glück’s oeuvre.

Gail Twersky Reimer

By collecting the history of Jewish women in the Jewish Women’s Archive, Gail Twersky Reimer ensured that anyone with an internet connection could get a more accurate, inclusive story of the Jewish community.

Rising Voices Retreat Workshop

Addressing #MeToo with Jewish Teens

Larisa Klebe

If you work with teens in any number of settings, you know that for many of them, the #MeToo movement is at the forefront of their minds ... Although it’s not our primary role as educators to provide counseling for teens who may be struggling with their own #MeToo experiences, we can play a part in helping them navigate this complex and multi-faceted conversation, and in a Jewish context.

Ruth Franklin Einstein

From the Archives: Saturday Luncheon Club

Robbie Terman

With the wonders of social media, I have a place to ponder the fate of Jimmy Hoffa and share anecdotes that I find in the archives. In 1921, a group of women with curious minds found a different method to uncover and share stories: The Saturday Luncheon Club (SLC).

Dafna Nundi Izraeli

Dafna Nundi Gewurtz Izraeli examined Israeli society through the lens of gender studies, showing how sexism in the Israeli army had wider repercussions for gender inequality in Israeli businesses and politics.

Bonnie Anderson

Combatting centuries of sexism that had erased women’s contributions, Bonnie Anderson published one of the first major surveys of women’s history, A History of Their Own.

Penina Migdal Glazer

As a historian, Penina Migdal Glazer has shed new light on the struggles of women to gain acceptance even in eras of supposedly greater opportunity.

Benevolent Societies and Tzedakah

Examine different ways that American Jewish women historically—and we today—fulfill the obligation of tzedakah (charity) and gemilut chesed (acts of loving kindness).

A Young American Jew in Israel, 1947-1948

Learn about the founding of the State of Israel from the perspective of Zipporah Porath, a young American woman who joined the Zionist effort in 1947.

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