Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Jewish Feminism by Andrea Ensley

The type of feminism I chose was Jewish Feminism. It is similiar to other feminism types as they are interested in advocating equal rights for women. However, due to the religious aspects of Judaism, women are not valued or seen as equal to men. The Jewish culture is very male dominated and rigid in their beliefs. Therefore, Jewish feminists not only seek equality for women but also social status and religious rights. It differs from other types of feminism because of the religious base. Jewish feminists do not bash religion. At least, what I have read. They desire better conditions and rights for women. Judaism is very important in the lives of jewish women and men. That is their culture and their lifestyle. Jewish feminists are also pushing for legal rights for women.

One of the core values of Jewish feminism is the importance of Jewish women being able to commence divorce proceedings. Judiasm does not allow women that right. I am in complete agreement with this need for change. I am not an advocate for divorce however I know there are times when no other options are available. In male dominated cultures like Judaism, the women suffer physical, mental, emotional, and sexual abuse with little or no recourse. They are expected to deal with it. I do not believe anyone should be subjected to live under such circumstances. Women staying in the name of religion, give the sincere, loving, godly people a bad name. When religion is involved, everyone can have a different interpretation of what a passage means. Nonetheless, I can tell you that God never gave any man the right to mistreat his wife, nor his children. His word instructs men to "Love your wife as Christ loved the church". There is no greater love than this. Love according to scripture does not abuse or hurt! I could not call myself a Jewish feminist for two reasons. For one, I am not Jewish nor from any sort of Jewish background. Secondly, I could not identify with this or any other feminist group because of my own personal convictions on some of the issues and rights feminists fight for. It is to say that some issues I agree with but as a whole, I cannot.
I used the internet to obtain information on what Jewish feminism is as well as to obtain other resources. One of the founding members of Jewish feminism is Blu Greenberg who has several articles and books about the subject. I was able to find information on some organizations such as JOFA-Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, the National Council of Jewish Women, and Shira Hadasha. Their websites respectively are,, and JOFA was founded ten years ago. Ms. Greenberg feels not enough progress has been made though. However, the task of cutting through a very male dominated culture is no easy task. I also found a website that was set up using a timeline effect for not only Jewish feminism but from the beginning. The web address is There also is a website that has a lot of additional resources for Jewish feminism at A professor by the name of Judith Plaskow has been very instrumental in Jewish feminism. She teaches Religious Studies and stressed the reality that women have experiences with God and not just men. Some feminist writers I found on wikipedia were: Rachel Adler, Blu Greenberg, Tova Hartman, Paula Hyman, Susannah Heschel, Judith Hauptman, Judith Plaskow, Tamar Ross, Mendel Shapiro, Daniel Sperber, Trude Weiss-Rosmarin, and Joel B. Wolowelsky.

Andrea Ensley

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