New Jewish Feminism: Probing the Past, Forging the Future

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Jewish Feminism: What Have We Accomplished? What Is Still to Be Done?

"When you are in the middle of the revolution you can't really plan the next steps ahead. But now we can. The book is intended to open up a dialogue between the early Jewish feminist pioneers and the young women shaping Judaism today…. Read it, use it, debate it, ponder it."
—from the Introduction

This empowering anthology looks at the growth and accomplishments of Jewish feminism and what that means for ...

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New Jewish Feminism: Probing the Past, Forging the Future

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Overview

Jewish Feminism: What Have We Accomplished? What Is Still to Be Done?

"When you are in the middle of the revolution you can't really plan the next steps ahead. But now we can. The book is intended to open up a dialogue between the early Jewish feminist pioneers and the young women shaping Judaism today…. Read it, use it, debate it, ponder it."
—from the Introduction

This empowering anthology looks at the growth and accomplishments of Jewish feminism and what that means for Jewish women today and tomorrow. It features the voices of women from every area of Jewish life—the Reform, Reconstructionist, Conservative, Orthodox and Jewish Renewal movements; rabbis, congregational leaders, artists, writers, community service professionals, academics, and chaplains, from the United States, Canada, and Israel—addressing the important issues that concern Jewish women:

  • Women and Theology
  • Women, Ritual and Torah
  • Women and the Synagogue
  • Women in Israel
  • Gender, Sexuality and Age
  • Women and the Denominations
  • Leadership and Social Justice
Contributors: Beth Cooper Benjamin, EdD • Rabbi Donna Berman, PhD • Ellen Bernstein • Marla Brettschneider, PhD • Shifra Bronznick • Anita Diamant • Rabbi Jacqueline Koch Ellenson • Ruth Andrew Ellenson • Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell, PhD • Rabbi Tirzah Firestone • Idana Goldberg, PhD • Rabbi Elyse Goldstein • Jodie Gordon • Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb • Rabbi Jill Hammer, PhD • Sara Hurwitz, Madricha Ruchanit (Religious Mentor)• Rabbi Jill Jacobs • Rabbi Valerie Joseph • Rabbi Karyn D. Kedar • Rabbi Naamah Kelman • Rabbi Gail Labovitz, PhD • Lori Hope Lefkovitz, PhD • Anne Lapidus Lerner, PhD • Rahel Lerner • Rabbi Jane Rachel Litman • Rabbi Dalia Marx, PhD • Rabbi Joseph B. Meszler • Rabbi Haviva Ner-David, PhD • Cantor Barbara Ostfeld • Rabbi Barbara Penzner • Judith Plaskow, PhD • Rabbi Irit Printz • Rabbi Einat Ramon, PhD • Rabbi Geela Rayzel Raphael • Rosie Rosenzweig • Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg • Rabbi Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi • Rabbi Rona Shapiro • Margalit Shilo, PhD • Rabbi Alana Suskin • Wendy Zierler, PhD
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Extraordinary … encompasses the broad international spectrum of Jewish feminist advocates and analysts across denominational spectrums, from those who carefully consider halakhic boundaries to those who would remake Judaism from the ground up. Equally impressive, fresh new voices are here added to those of feminist pioneers. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in the renaissance in contemporary Jewish life."
Sylvia Barack Fishman, PhD, professor of contemporary Jewish life, Brandeis University; author, The Way Into the Varieties of Jewishness

"For Jews, for feminists, for anyone who believes that we can transform our religions so that they meet the highest ethical standards, this book is required reading."
Vanessa L. Ochs, PhD, associate professor of religious studies, University of Virginia; author, Inventing Jewish Ritual

“What a rich chorus of voices! We all know how much thought and creativity has come forth in the Jewish feminist movement over the past several decades. But to see it all together is truly breathtaking. A most impressive achievement!”
Dr. Arthur Green, rector of the Rabbinical School and Irving Brudnick Professor of Philosophy and Religion, Hebrew College; author, Ehyeh: A Kabbalah for Tomorrow

“An amazing piece of work! The combination of range and depth, variety and sophistication is nothing short of remarkable. No stone is left unturned, no point on the spectrum unrepresented, no question unasked, no analysis ignored. This book will have 'legs' and will launch the next phase of work everywhere.”
Blu Greenberg, co-founder and first president of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance; author, On Women and Judaism: A View from Tradition

“In this rich volume, representatives of all denominations share their thoughts and experiences, offering us a summary and assessment of what has already been accomplished in the wake of women's increased participation in the public arena of Judaism, alongside a glimpse of the work and the promise that still lie ahead.”
Dr. Tamar Ross, professor of Jewish philosophy, Bar-Ilan University; author, Expanding the Palace of Torah: Orthodoxy and Feminism

“A profusion of wise and creative voices…. The flowering of women joining fully in shaping Judaism’s future continues.”
Rabbi Arthur Waskow, PhD, director, the Shalom Center; coauthor with Rabbi Phyllis Berman, A Time for Every Purpose under Heaven; author of Godwrestling—Round 2 and Down-to-Earth Judaism

“A virtual salon of three generations of Jewish feminists, gathering to explore how far they have come, where they have yet to go, and the challenges and gifts they have given to us all.”
Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin, general consultant, COEJL, the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life; director, the Baltimore Jewish Environmental Network; author, A Tapestry of Jewish Time and Tears of Sorrow, Seeds of Hope: A Jewish Spiritual Companion for Infertility and Pregnancy Loss

“A worthy addition and an important contribution for setting the agenda for the future.”
Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, senior rabbi, Congregation Beth El Zedeck, Indianapolis; author, But God Remembered: Stories of Women from Creation to the Promised Land and Noah’s Wife: The Story of Naamah

“A spirited and broad-ranging collection of articles Jewish feminists across the spectrum will want to read.”
Rachel Adler, PhD, associate professor of modern Jewish thought and Judaism and gender at the School of Religion, University of Southern California, and Hebrew Union College Rabbinical School; author, Engendering Judaism: An Inclusive Theology and Ethics

“A smart and comprehensive portrait of the promises and challenges of feminism across a broad spectrum of Jewish life today.”
Dr. Rebecca Alpert, associate professor of religion and women’s studies, Temple University; author, Like Bread on a Seder Plate

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781580233590
  • Publisher: Jewish Lights Publishing
  • Publication date: 10/1/2008
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 480
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Rabbi Elyse Goldstein, one of the leading rabbis of a new generation, is director of Kolel: The Adult Center for Liberal Jewish Learning, a full-time progressive adult Jewish learning center. Goldstein lectures frequently throughout North America. She is also editor of The Women's Torah Commentary: New Insights from Women Rabbis on the 54 Weekly Torah Portions; and The Women's Haftarah Commentary: New Insights from Women Rabbis on the 54 Weekly Haftarah Portions, the 5 Megillot and Special Shabbatot; and author of the award-winning New Jewish Feminism: Probing the Past, Forging the Future and ReVisions: Seeing Torah through a Feminist Lens (all Jewish Lights).

Rabbi Elyse Goldstein is available to speak on the following topics:

  • Women and Judaism
  • Reform Judaism
  • Jewish Parenting
  • General Judaica

Anita Diamant is author of The Red Tent; The New Jewish Wedding; Bible Baby Names: Spiritual Choices from Judeo-Christian Sources; and The New Jewish Baby Book(Jewish Lights), among other books. She is a founder of Mayyim Hayyim, Living Waters Community Mikveh and the Paula J. Brody Family Education Center in Newton, Massachusetts.

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Anita Diamant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xi

Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xv

Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xix

Part I Women and Theology 1
Calling All Theologians
JUDITH PLASKOW, PhD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

Major Trends in Jewish Feminist Theology
The Work of Rachel Adler, Judith Plaskow, and Rebecca Alpert
RABBI DONNA BERMAN, PhD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12

To Her We Shall Return
Jews Turning to the Goddess, the Goddess Turning to Jews
RABBI JILL HAMMER, PhD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22

Metaphors of God
RABBI KARYN D. KEDAR. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35

Creation Theology
Theology for the Rest of Us
ELLEN BERNSTEIN. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42

Part II Women, Ritual, and Torah 55
The Hermeneutics of Curiosity
On Reclamation
RABBI DANYA RUTTENBERG . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59

The Politics and Aesthetics of Jewish Women's Spirituality
LORI HOPE LEFKOVITZ, PhD, AND RABBI RONA SHAPIRO. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66

The Pink Tallit
Women’s Rituals as Imitative or Inventive?
RABBI ELYSE GOLDSTEIN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81

From Ancient Times to Modern Meaning
Jewish Women Claim Their Ritual Power
RABBI GEELA RAYZEL RAPHAEL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90

Torah Study "For Women"
WENDY ZIERLER, PhD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102

Transforming Our Stories through Midrash
RABBI TIRZAH FIRESTONE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113

Part III Women and the Synagogue 121
From the Personal to the Communal
How Women Have Changed the Rabbinate
RABBI JACQUELINE KOCH ELLENSON . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 125

The Ascent of the Woman Cantor
Shira Hamaalot
CANTOR BARBARA OSTFELD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133

Orthodox Women in Rabbinic Roles
SARA HURWITZ, MADRICHA RUCHANIT (RELIGIOUS MENTOR) . . . . . . . . . 144

Feminism and the Transformation of the Synagogue
RABBI SUE LEVI ELWELL, PhD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155

Where Are the Jewish Men?
The Absence of Men from Liberal Synagogue Life
RABBI JOSEPH B. MESZLER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 165

Pacing Change
The Impact of Feminism on Conservative Synagogues
ANNE LAPIDUS LERNER, PhD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 175

Women in the Conservative Synagogue
RABBI IRIT PRINTZ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 186

part iv Women in Israel 195
A Thirty-Year Perspective on Women and Israeli Feminism
RABBI NAAMAH KELMAN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 197

Gender in Israeli Liberal Liturgy
RABBI DALIA MARX, PhD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 206

Masorti (Conservative Israeli) Women
RABBI EINAT RAMON, PhD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 218

The First Decade of the Orthodox Women’s Revolution in Israel
The Case of Kolech
MARGALIT SHILO, PhD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 227

Part V Gender, Sexuality, and Age 239
Jewish Feminism, Sexuality, and a Sexual Justice Agenda
MARLA BRETTSCHNEIDER, PhD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 241

If the Shoe Doesn’t Fit, Examine the Soul
Jewish Feminism and Gender Expression
RABBI JANE RACHEL LITMAN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 250

Koach Banot (Girl Power)
Talking Feminism with Jewish Teen Girls
BETH COOPER BENJAMIN, EdD, AND JODIE GORDON. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 258

Portrait of the Writer as a Young Feminist
RAHEL LERNER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 273

The Pink Ghetto
RUTH ANDREW ELLENSON . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 277

Part VI Women and the Denominations 283
Orthodoxy and Feminism
IDANA GOLDBERG, PhD. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 287

The Changing Status of Women in Liberal Judaism
A Reflective Critique
RABBI RACHEL SABATH BEIT-HALACHMI . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 297

Feminism and Halakhah
The Jew Who (Still) Isn’t There
RABBI HAVIVA NER-DAVID, PhD. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 312

Feminism and Jewish Law in Conservative Judaism
RABBI GAIL LABOVITZ, PhD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 323

Women and the Reconstructionist Movement
RABBI BARBARA PENZNER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 334

Part VII Leadership and Social Justice 345
Jewish Women’s Leadership for the Twenty-first Century
SHIFRA BRONZNICK. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 347

Bread, Roses, and Chutzpah
Jewish Women in American Social Movements
RABBI JILL JACOBS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 356

Women’s Right to a World Free of Violence
RABBI LYNN GOTTLIEB . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 369

Servants before the King
Raising Up the Healer to Leadership
RABBI VALERIE JOSEPH AND RABBI ALANA SUSKIN. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 382

Post-Triumphalism and the New Haskalah
ROSIE ROSENZWEIG. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 397

Notes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 404

Glossary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 427

Suggestions for Further Reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 432

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