Recordings from 2007 and 2010 International Conferences

Listen to sessions about:
Ritual Inclusion
Women's Leadership
Social Justice (including iggun)
Spirituality
Our Children's Education
Other Issues We Care About

Ritual Inclusion


Assembly Required: Building and Fostering a Parntership Minyan, Dr. Alanna Cooper, Jonathan Stein and Dr. Chaim Trachtman, 2010
Creating a partnership minyan, and working to sustain it, can be daunting and time consuming, but, ultimately, tremendously gratifying. What does it take start a minyan, and to insure its continuity? What particular challenges are involved in fostering a minyan that is dedicated to traditional halakha and to creating a prayer space that belongs to both women and men? These questions are addressed by the panel members, who have each been instrumental in founding a partnership minyan.

Bat Mitzvah and Beyond, Judy Heicklen, Daniel Rothner, and Aliza Sperling, 2010
How do we ensure that the Bat Mitzvah is not the pinnacle of a girl's participation in religious life? This session explores the Bat Mitzvah as an opportunity for deepening involvement in ritual, learning and hesed with the goal of lifelong engagement in Jewish life.

Beyond Tzibbur and Kevod Hatzibbur: A Synagogue Becomes a Home, Rabbi Asher Lopatin, 2007
How can a synagogue become more inclusive? In recent years, the concept of kevod hatzibbur has been redefined to allow for increased participation of women in ritual life. Is this the only means at our disposal or can we draw on other halakhic concepts to become more accepting of women in synagogue roles and ritual practices? Through an examination of textual sources, this session explores how the transformation of the synagogue from a tzibbur to a home environment allows for more inclusion of women in synagogue practices.

Beyond Women's Issues: Partnership Minyanim Engage Orthodoxy, Elitzur Avraham Bar-Asher, Dr. Alanna Cooper, and Michal Bar-Asher Siegal, 2007
In forming partnership minyanim, creative efforts to include women generate discussions about broader issues facing Orthodoxy today. Questions about conversion, defining religious authority, and articulating parameters for contemporary ideological religious commitment are necessarily confronted in the quest to construct a more inclusive tefillah environment.These issues are explored from sociological, halakhic and philosophical perspectives.

Creating and Recreating Jewish Rituals, Dasee Berkowitz and Dr. Elana Zion Golumbic, 2010
Jewish women are creating and recreating rituals to mark significant life passages for themselves and their families. Through ceremonies to mark a simhat bat, a young girl's third birthday, and becoming a new grandparent, this session explores ways in which new Jewish rituals are developed "in conversation" with Jewish tradition.

Fixed Prayer, Spirituality, and Inclusiveness, Dr. Adena Berkowitz and Rivka Haut, 2010
Does the traditional siddur integrate women among those who pray? How do the newest siddurim deal with this issue? This session explores the daily and Shabbat liturgy,and discuss halakhically acceptable ways to incorporate the spiritual needs of women, singles, and those with and without children. It examines the delicate balance between inclusivenness and adherence to halakha in aiming to create a welcoming prayer environment for all. Special attention is paid to women's participation in lifecycle events and in birkat hamazon, with analysis of sources dealing with women's zimmun of three, and zimmun of ten, along with general ways to increase kavannah in tandem with the keva of prayer.

A Foot in Both Shuls, Rabbi Martin Lockhin and Sally Mendelsohn, 2010
Successful partnership minyanim are found now in more than a dozen cities in the US and Canada. Each member in one of these minyanim has to negotiate her or his relationship with neighbors and institutions in the "standard" Orthodox community. In this session, members of different partnership minyanim share their experiences, and consider the relationship between the partnership movement and the rest of Orthodoxy.

Honoring the Community: Women's Participation in Public Torah Reading, Wendy Amsellem, 2010
This session provides a forum to study together some of the halakhic issues that arise in partnership minyanim, specifically looking at questions surrounding women's participation in public Torah readings, and includes both classical rabbinic texts and modern-day responsa.

Mehitza: Meaning, Marginalization and Membership, Rabbi Dov Linzer, 2010
Some are high, some are low, some are make-shift and some leave women sitting closer to the ceiling than the Torah. The mehitza not only physically divide the sexes: it also determines our perceptions about women's presence in the synagogue. The session looks at three different explanations for the role and function of the mehitza , and explore how these different models impact not only the physical realities of the mehitza , but also the degree to which pos'kim, rabbis, and we ourselves see women as members of the prayer community or as marginal to it.

Reclaiming Women's Names, Lynn Kaye, 2010
Jewish names not only identify us, but express our family history by including the names of one or both of our parents. We will examine forms of names used in Jewish legal documents like ketubbot and gittin (marriage and divorce documents), the custom of brides signing ketubbot, and styles of names on grave stones. The focus is on halakhic opportunities to include women's names in these enduring texts.

Straight from the Sources' Mouth: Women Examine Halakha Anew, Rahel Berkovits and Dr. Debby Koren, 2007

Ta Shma: Kaddish, Rahel Berkovits, 2010
The emotionally charged recitation of the mourner's kaddish for a deceased loved one stands at the heart of the Jewish bereavement experience. Traditionally, this public testimony has been seen as the role of the son; however, the possibility of a daughter also reciting kaddish for a lost parent is not solely a modern one. This session studies the halakhic texts dealing with the situation in which there are no sons to recite kaddish, and address the questions surrounding a daughter's recitation of kaddish in the synagogue.

Ta Shma: Kiddush, Rahel Berkovits, 2010
Using halakhic literature, from the Talmud to modern legal texts, this session discusses women's participation in the sanctification of Shabbat by addressing the following questions: Are women obligated in kiddush of Shabbat? What is the level of women's obligation- biblical or rabbinic? May woman fulfill the obligation on behalf of others- men and women? May a woman who has already fulfilled her obligation repeat kiddush for someone who has not yet recited kiddush?

Ta Shma: Torah Scroll, Devorah Zlochower, 2010
Despite the incontrovertible textual evidence that tum'ah, often translated as ritual impurity, has relevance only to the Temple and sacred foods, there is a popular notion that women, while in the state of niddah, should not touch a Torah scroll. This session examines the texts countering and supporting these practices. Are there prohibitions barring women in a state of niddah from touching Torah scrolls? What are the sources for the popular practices that caused women in a state of niddah to remove themselves or be removed from synagogues, studying Torah, and praying? What is the halakhic weight of these practices?

Women in Midrash, Avital Campbell Hochstein, 2010
This session looks at the corpus of halakhic midrash (midrashei halakha), analyzing the language and thus the ways in which women are included in halakha and assessing whether that means inclusion or exclusion from social, religious and other realms of life.

You are Hereby Renewed Unto Me, Dr. Irit Koren, 2010
This session considers the ways in which women who identify as Orthodox feminists challenge, resist and adapt the traditional wedding ritual. It discusses the problematic structure of the traditional wedding ritual and how it affects the Jewish divorce laws and specifically the issue of the aguna; examines the ways in which women create different strategies of interpretation for the wedding ritual acts which can transform the wedding ritual; and explores the different legal and halakhic solutions that can be used to "redeem" the wedding ritual.

Women's Leadership

The "Be an Orthodox Man" Box, Dr. Elana Sztokman, 2010
The Orthodox community sends messages to boys and men about what it means to “be a man.” Understanding these messages is vital for developing a healthy identity and for creating a vibrant community that is reflective, sensitive, and aware of the social and emotional needs of its members. The session is based on independent qualitative research among Orthodox men.

Can the Female Voice Contribute to Halakhic Discourse? Kol B'Isha Erva as a Test Case, Dr. Tamar Ross, 2007
In recent years, women have published several studies that take a feminist perspective on the development of halakhic issues. While these studies appear under the guise of academic objectivity, it is also clear that they strive, by means of legal or historic analysis, to influence the nature of p'sak regarding concrete areas of concern to women. Examining issues relating to kol isha, this session demonstrates the potential of feminist insight and women's voices in a broader metaphoric sense to enhance or supplement current halakhic considerations in a manner that is more oblique yet at the same time more profound in its implications for women's status in the halakhic system.

Empowerment: Exploring Models of Halakhic Authority, Sara Hurwitz, Rabbi Dov Linzer, and Dina Najman, 2007
In recent years, there has been a paradigm shift in the Orthodox community with the acceptance of women in new leadership roles some originally conceived and some traditionally thought to be the sole purview of men. How has this shift affected the community and its view of authority? In many arenas, the relationship between religious leader/rabbi and congregant/student is being redefined. The session explores a range of rabbinic views on the role of authority in the Orthodox community and includes the voices of women who have assumed innovative positions in their communities.

A Fine Balance: Feminism and Family, Dr. Sylvia Barak Fishman, Dr. Michelle Kobrin, and Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, 2007
As Orthodox feminists, we aspire to full equality and partnership in our family lives. How can we ensure that our communities reflect that vision? What are the challenges families, and women in particular, face in meeting those ideals? How does family life affect our religious life and, conversely, how do issues of family size and economic realities impact Orthodox family life? How does a community effectively address infertility within its ranks? This forum addresses the delicate balancing act faced by families, as well as offer models for communal and family support that can help families of all types thrive in our communities.

Freedom vs. Authority: The Absolute in a Complex World, Rachel Keren, 2007
The Orthodox individual often feels torn between a desire for greater freedom of choice and an acceptance of authority. As a result individuals are pulled in two opposing directions either towards an abandonment of their personal, familial and communal obligations dictated by Orthodox practice or to a withdrawal into ultra-Orthodox spiritual ghettos. This session argues that Torah study by women is the most significant change brought about by the religious feminist revolution, one that offers a response to the dichotomy of freedom vs. authority facing Orthodoxy. It illustrates how batei midrash for women can and should be a model for change in the world of Jewish education, offering an opportunity for discussion of identity issues and open dialogue with the Torah world.

It's Your Torah Too: Empowering Jewish Women, Dr. Tamra Wright, 2007
Have you ever felt unequal to the task of giving a d'var Torah in public? In response to this widely-held insecurity, a unique and ambitious program, The Susi Bradfield Women Educators Fellowships, was developed in London with the aim of transforming the perception of women's role in Jewish learning and creating a cadre of well-trained women educators. This session  examines the impact of the Bradfield program on the adult education scene in London, and on the individual women who have participated in the program, exploring the transformative effects of the program on the graduates, their families, students and communities in order to identify the elements that could usefully and effectively be replicated in American communities.

Jewish Camping: Women, Leadership, and Empowerment, Sharon Weiss-Greenberg, 2010
Summer camp can be an empowering and eye-opening experience for staff members and campers. This session explores how Jewish camping can shape religious values and perspectives that can endure for a lifetime, and discusses the process of instituting policies and practices that help female campers gain a deeper understanding of what it means to take leadership roles in rituals and beyond.

Meet the New Boss, Dr. Ronit Irshai, 2010
Why remain Orthodox if Orthodoxy as an ideology continues to discriminate against women in almost every field of Jewish religious life? The only way to reconcile Orthodoxy and feminism is by working to change the system from within by creating a new kind of Orthodoxy. Can women who become pos'kot "effect" this transformation? This session explores this question.

Old Texts through New Eyes, Miriam Udel, 2007
When an individual approaches a text, there are two entities to be considered. There is an ancient text that needs to be read with integrity and there is the individual, who brings his/her own set of values and ideas to the table. This session will explore the relationship and conflict between these two entities. As Orthodox Jewish women continue to access advanced Torah study in unprecedented numbers, some serious philosophical difficulties are necessarily confronted as difficult texts are encountered. Surveying a few representative passages, this session attempts,  to engage the difficulties honestly,  pinpointing some of the challenges that we meet reading as women and as moderns and then will attempt to arrive at constructive responses.

Rabbi May I? Taking Responsibility for P'sak in a Feminist Age, Rabbi Dr. Barry Wimpfheimer, 2007
Does halakha require us to cede all decision making to rabbis? What are the implications of doing so? This session analyzes the history, as well as case studies, behind our modern understandings of p'sak, and develops a model that encourages personal responsibility in halakhic decision making.

Toward Building a Gender-Critical Approach to the Philosophy of Halakha, Ronit Ir-Shai, 2007
An analysis of both permissive halakhic decisions regarding the technology of fertility and stringent halakhic positions on abortion and birth control demonstrates the extent to which value judgments influence halakhic decision making. This session examines how both sets of rulings are grounded in a perception of women as vessels of fertility and perpetuate this restricted notion of a women's identity. By exposing alternative interpretations embedded in these halakhic decisions and using insight from feminist theory, the session explores the possibility that egalitarian values can be incorporated into halakhic deliberation.

A Rabbi by any Other Name, Rachel Kohl Finegold, Rabba Sara Hurwitz and Rosh Kehillah Dina Najman, 2010
Has the glass ceiling truly been shattered? What does the future hold for women in Orthodox communal leadership positions? Some of today's female leaders discuss the expanding halakhic, spiritual leadership roles available to women today.

The Rabbinic Team: A New Model of Leadership, Rabba Sara Hurwitz and Rabbi Steven Exler, 2010
As women join the ranks of synagogue rabbinic leadership new questions are asked: do women and men serve different populations, or serve differently? What are the strengths and weaknesses of a collaborative model? Rabba Sara Hurwitz and Rabbi Steven Exler of Hebrew Institute of Riverdale discuss division of labor and their varying roles, and envision alternative models for female and male clergy to create community.

Work-Life Navigation and Negotiation, Rabbi Joanna Samuels and Deborah Greyson Riegel, 2010
In the first part of this one-hour workshop, three panelists reflect on navigating work and home life. In the second part, each of the workshop participants identifies a goal related to work-life and sketch out an action plan to address it with the help of personal coach Deborah Grayson Reigel.

Why the Rambam was Wrong: Women in Leadership, Rabbi Daniel Sperber, 2010
Many Orthodox pos'kim reject, out of hand, the possibility of women in positions of communal authority, be it synagogue president or Rabbi. Basing their argument on the Rambam's concept of s'rarah (governance) and modesty , little consideration is given to important and relevant historical figures such as Devora or Bruriah or to social context. Is the Rambam's view appropriate in today's world of learned and serious women?

Social Justice

Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Understanding the Interactions Between Civil and Religious Law, Michelle Greenberg-Kobrin and Esther Macner, 2007
In this practical and informative session, two prominent attorneys discuss how the beit din and civil law intersect in divorce law. How does arbitration affect the rabbinic courts and how are decisions of the beit din played out civilly? How do the civil get laws work and what kind of protection do they afford Jewish women? Are prenuptial agreements enforceable in a civil court of law?

Halakhic Justice for the Agunah: A 40 Year Retrospective, Blu Greenberg, 2010
Despite 40 years of efforts and a flurry of interest in recent years, the burning problem of suffering agunot in our community remains to haunt our collective conscience. Scholars, ancient and modern, clash over possible solutions, and the session attempts to assess these conflicting positiosn, and to critically evaluate a variety of communal and organizational efforts to deal with these issues that have been built up in our times. How do we avoid waiting another 40 years in the search for a solution?

Jewish Women Doing Justice, Debbie Appel, Ruth Balinsky, Dyonna Ginsburg, and Adina Mermelstein Konikoff, 2010
What are social justice organizations doing in America and Israel? How does the Jewish imperative to make change influence and shape our views of domestic and global responsibility? Women from Bema'aglei Tzedek, American Jewish World Service, Jewish Funds for Justice, and Uri L'tzedek discuss the work that they do, and how one can support and join their efforts to repair the world.

Law, Gender, and Multiculturalism: The Case of the Agunot, Dr. Lisa Fishbayn, 2007
Can civil law act as a catalyst to change minority practices that discriminate against women? Theorists of gender and multiculturalism have argued that civil law can play a role in creating conditions that compel communities to change their norms into more egalitarian ones. This session explores this thesis, using the example of the Canadian Get Law to alleviate the plight of Canadian agunot. It asks whether this law resulted in different norms for the issuance of divorce decrees in the development of novel solutions and in a reinvigorated religious legal authority.

Mekudeshet: Betrothed or Chained? A Conversation about the Film, Dr. Susan Aranoff, Rachell Maidenbaum Gober, and Anat Zuria, 2007
The movie Mekudeshet is a sobering look at the state of affairs of agunot in Israel. This panel, made up of a US agunah activist, a former agunah, and the movies director, discusses differences between the US and Israeli systems, some personal experiences, and suggested solutions.

The RCA Prenup:$10,000 and Counting?, Dr. Susan Aranoff, 2010
In this session, the legal/halakhic and procedural issues underlying several real, precedent-setting cases with the RCA Beit Din are discussed. In one case, a former agunah whose spouse had signed a pre-nup agreement was awarded $10,000 in a din torah. In another, an annulment was obtained. Why did these cases have successful outcomes?

Should our Sister be Made a Harlot? A Jewish Response to Sex Slavery and Human Trafficking, Gilah Kletenik, 2010
In what way do Scriptural and Rabbinic texts shed light on the plight of modern-day sex slavery? What is the state of the commercial sex industry and the global trafficking network? How many millions of women and children are currently enslaved? How might our canonical texts and philosophical writings help us to move towards an understanding of the responsibility placed on our shoulders to respond to this horrific reality? Are there practical steps each of us can take to bring freedom to women enslaved throughout the world today?

Speaking in Language the Rabbis Understand: Preventing Agunah, Rahel Levmore, 2010
Persuading an insular and resistant community such as the rabbinate, to make use of innovative ideas in general is a challenge, all the more so when it comes to solving the agunah problem. A method which has been effective in disseminating the concept of prenuptial agreements for the prevention of get-refusal amongst the highly resistant group of Israeli rabbis, has been "speaking to them in their own language".

What Should We Talk about When We Talk About Women's Leadership?, Dyonna Ginsburg, Rori Picker Neiss, and Alana Newhouse, 2010
In recent years, women's leadership has become one of the hottest topics in the Orthodox movement. However, there is extensive debate about how we should view the challenges presented by trying to better empower our women. Is women's leadership a social justice imperative, where the failure to make progress is a violation of the rights of half of the (Orthodox) Jewish community? Should it be seen as a socio-cultural issue, which requires further examination of the larger communal constructs before we can seek to make major changes? Or is it an education issue, where certain grassroots realities have to change before we can make change from the top? The conversation between the presenters explores these issues and strives to envision a community that is more open to everyone.

When Push Comes to Shove: Building Healthy Relationships, Miriam Schacter, 2007
When are our relationships challenging and when do they tip the scale and become difficult and self-destructive? This session is a follow up discussion to the film "When Push Comes to Shove It’s no Longer Love", from Jewish Women International, that attempts to understand the parts of ourselves that contribute to the difficulties we encounter.

Why We Are Losing the Battle, Dr. Ruth Halperin Kaddari, 2007
In Israel, the Tel Aviv rabbinical court recently used a new tactic - the retroactive invalidation of a get because the court deemed that the conditions imposed on the woman (pertaining to the childrens custody and visitation rights) had not been met by her. The use of this shocking tactic has been growing in recent years. Is this legal? Is it kosher? What is going on here and what does it portend for the future?

Women Unchained: The Making of a New Agunah Documentary, Darryle Gillman and Beverly Siegel, 2010
After laboring to move heaven and earth to get her daughter a get, Darryle Gillman resolved to go public to help other woman avoid a similar fate. She enlisted writer/director Beverly Siegel who teamed up with editor Leta Lenik and they produced “Women Unchained,” a documentary chronicling six women’s experiences and featuring internationally known experts. Exposing the impact on children -- and on parents who pay for their chained daughter’s freedom -- “Women Unchained” takes an irreverent look at the process by which some women must "negotiate" their way out of a Jewish marriage. The session features preview clips and a discussion with the producers.

Women of the Wall: Prayer, Pluralism, Prejudice, Police and Politics, Rabbi Jackie Koch Ellenson, Blu Greenberg, and Rivka Haut, 2010
The panel deals with the the halakhic and spiritual issues of women in prayer at the Kotel, the agreement between WOW and the courts, the reaction of the haredi community to the presence of women's tefilla at the Kotel, and possible resolutions to the current political situation.

Spirituality

Avodah She'balev: Developing Meaningful Prayer, Rabbi Dr. Elie Holzer, 2007
What would it take to develop meaningful prayer experiences? What might a community infused with meaningful prayer look like? This session addresses the important and inspiring contribution of feminism on both the conceptual and practical aspects of these questions. Drawing on (but not limited to) the case of the Shira Hadasha  congregation in Jerusalem, this session will explore topics like the importance of unmediated avodah she'balev; the translation of ethical aspects of prayer into synagogue infrastructures; the role of she'likhe tzibbur and the role of singing.

Initiating a Conversation: Modeling Prayer for our Children, Ilana Fodiman Silverman, 2007
When teaching tefillah to children, how do we move beyond rote skill development? Can we encourage a child's own individual exploration of God and spirituality? How do we as parents, families and community leaders model our own concepts of and struggles with tefillah for our children? This session examines current models of tefillah in synagogues, schools and homes, provides theoretical frameworks for teaching tefillah more effectively, and explores practical ideas to enhance the prayer experiences of our youth.

"Laa Zeh Anochim": A Con-Textual Life, Reb Mimi Feigelson, 2010
Could it be that Rav Kook, Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev, the Talmudic Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi and the Chernobler and Ishbitzer Rebbes were talking to you when claiming a space for your authenticity, your existential questions, and your desire to manifest in your true complexity, in God’s world? The presenter explains how they have been her textual-spiritual mentors, on her journey as an Orthodox Rabba and Rebbe for the last fifteen years. She asks of everyone: What are your covenantal texts? What teachings define you and demand of you to stand in your greatness?

Morning Praise: How to Greet Each Day with Gratitude to the Creator - Even When you Can't Stop Worrying, Nessa Rappoport, 2010
Writer Nessa Rapoport explores the experience and possibility of daily morning prayer.

Our Dialogue with God: Tradition and Innovation, Rabbi Daniel Sperber, 2007
Tefillah is critical to our community's spiritual well-being. Explore the process of liturgical development, particularly as it relates to women and feminist concerns. How do new prayers get written and accepted into our liturgy? How is the process of editing traditional liturgy different or similar to other halakhic evolutions? How can new prayers be halakhically developed today?

Rediscovering Mikveh, Carrie Bornstein and Dr. Bat Sheva Marcus, 2010
Once upon a time mikveh was presented to young brides as the panacea to all the problems in a marriage. More recently the pendulum has swung the other way and mikveh-bashing is the rage. This session attempts to find a moderated, sophisticated view of mikveh through a feminist lens.

The Revelation of Esther: Listening for God in Our Times, Erin Leib Smokler, 2010
Purim and Pesach are two holidays with very different portrayals of God in the world. This session explores the models of revelation that each holiday represents and tries to determine what it could mean to experience revelation today.

Torah U'Madda: Taking Feminist Thought Religiously, Dr. Tova Hartman, 2007
A fundamental principal of modern Orthodoxy is the acceptance of Torah U’Madda: the belief that elements of the modern world should not only be studied, but can have a positive impact on our religious lives. What are the limits of Torah U’Madda? Which elements of modern values can be incorporated into our understanding of madda? Can Modern Orthodoxy truly withstand the feminist critique? Is the Orthodox establishment ready to view feminist thought as part of the corpus of modern thinking that can have a positive impact on our religious identities?

What do we Mean When we Talk about God?, Dr. Tamar Ross, 2010
The pre-Socratic philosopher Xenophon suggested that if horses and lions had hands, horses would draw pictures of gods like horses and lions like lions. Is our God a person, only more so? If not, who or what is He (or She)? A brief look at the history of Jewish mysticism and particularly a few passages written by Rabbi A.I. Kook will reveal some radical and unexpected insights, significantly diminishing the gap between religious belief and heresy.

When the Women Refused to Strip Off their Finery, Dr. Rachel Adelman, 2010
The story of the women's refusal to participate in the worship of the Golden Calf is well known, but why their piety is linked to the reward of Rosh Hodesh demands further inquiry. This session explores midrashic sources that link their piety with Matan Torah, and ultimately, to Eve's transgression in the Garden of Eve. Rosh Hodesh is seen as a tikkun for the role of the First Woman in "the Fall".

Our Children's Education

Tanu Rabbanan: JOFA's New Curriculum, Tammy Jacobowitz and Judith Talesnick, 2007
In this session, JOFA's gender-sensitive humash curriculum development team offer a taste of the learning experience they are creating on Exodus for 5th grade classrooms. They explore Miriam's early leadership qualities as evidenced in the Torah and in the Midrash.

As if You Yourself Left Egypt: Learning Shemot with New Eyes, Tammy Jacobowitz and Judith Talesnick, 2010
The authors of JOFA's [elementary school] Shmot curriculum introduce the curriculum to participants in this session by learning the midwive narrative in Shemot together. Building upon participants learning and questions, the approach of the curriculum in presented and the process used to develop each unit is discussed. The session also exploreshow our schools can be encouraged to use the curriculum in the classroom.

The Feminist Mystique: A High School Educator's Perspective, Shira Hecht-Koller, Amanda Newman, and Lisa Schlaff, 2010
Three high school educators discuss how feminism is dealt with in each of their schools, both in the actual and hidden curriculum. This panel addresses the positive strides made by schools in incorporating feminism, as well as the challenges and areas that still need improvement. The general level of interest in feminism (or lack thereof) in their schools is also explored.

The Hidden Curriculum: What are we Really Teaching our Children?, Ronnie Becher, Rabbanit Sharon Freundel, Dr. David Pelcovitz and Lisa Schlaff, 2007
When we focus attention on our children's education, we often speak of the explicit curriculum -- what are they learning in our classes, and how. Just as important is the hidden curriculum imparted in our day schools. The language used in textbooks, the pictures hanging in the hallways, the physical setup of the classroom and other, subtle aspects of our Orthodox day schools send messages consciously or unconsciously to girls and boys about their Jewish roles and identities. How do these messages differ and what kind of impact do they have on the children's attitudes towards their Jewish identity and education? How can educators, parents and community members work with our schools to shape the messages sent to children through hidden curricula?

Orthodox Women on Campus, Panel of College Students, 2010
How are Orthodox college women defining their roles within their campus communities? What is the impact of the "year in Israel" on gender roles in college communities? How are campus rabbis responding to college women's initiatives and concerns? Through a panel discussion with students from different campuses in America, this session explores these and other opportunities and challenges facing Orthodox college women today.

Popular Culture vs. Jewish Values: Helping Your Teenage Daughter Cope, Mindy Shapiro, 2007
We have a dream for our daughters. We envision generations of healthy, strong Jewish girls growing up to participate and assume positions of leadership in their religious and secular lives. However, girls today face unprecedented challenges to their self-esteem and self-respect. This interactive workshop explores the impact of popular culture on Jewish girls today. It will present techniques for dealing with the developmental needs and behaviors of adolescents, referencing the empowering Jewish framework for addressing all of these issues, Rosh Hodesh: It's a Girl Thing.

Raising Sexually Healthy Children, Dr. Bat Sheva Marcus, 2010
This session addresses some of the major issues facing parents trying to raise children in the Orthodox community with a positive, healthy attitude towards sexuality, their own and others. How do you respond to issues of tzniut, masturbation, introduction of taharat hamishpaha and sexual identity? How do you function within the confines of a community, school or synagogue that may be introducing messages other than what you intend? 

Reaching Higher: Jewish Education for the Next Generation, YU President Richard Joel, 2010
When educating our children, we must always strike a balance between our timeless Jewish heritage and the constant flux of the modern world. Today, the Jewish community needs our best and brightest to take active leadership roles motivated by their sacred covenant with the Divine and infused with the most up-to-date skills and ideas. Only through the combination of these pursuits can we reach higher to ensure a strong culture of values for the Jewish future.

Separate but Equal? Exploring the Issues of All-Girls Learning, Panel of High School Students, 2010
Modern Orthodox schools in America deal with the issue of co-education in a variety of ways. Some schools are completely co-ed, others completely separate the sexes, while others separate boys and girls for Judaic Studies classes only. There is a fear that if girls are taught separately, they will not be taught the same material at the same level as their male counterparts, but does this have to be the reality? Is there a value in reclaiming girls only space and teaching all-girls classes? What does this all mean for girls learning? What is the value of girls learning together without boys? What is gained and what is lost in this endeavor? These questions and others are discussed by a panel of students from different schools.

"Torah In Shivyon": A Vision of Orthodox Feminist Education, Dr. Elana Sztokman, 2010
The changes in Orthodoxy over the past three decades have failed to find parallel expression in the Orthodox school system. From preschool on, schools continue to send the message that women are predominately charged with the home, and men are in charge of prayer and ritual. Dr. Sztokman discusses her vision of Orthodox day school education that incorporates the values of equality, feminism and social justice intertwined with Jewish life and tradition – with perspectives on feminism for girls and feminism for boys.

Turning all the Boys' Heads, Rabbi Todd Berman, 2010
This session examines the impact of post-high school yeshivot in Israel on their male students. It strives to understand the hurdles and view curriculum examples to show how yeshivot can inculcate greater halakhic observance while opening the minds of male students to the greater involvement of women in Judaism.

The Year in Israel: Expanding Horizons or Narrowing Scope?, Emily Shapiro Katz, 2007
The post-high school Israel experience has become a normative rite-of-passage for American Modern Orthodox teens. The proliferation of midrashot, where young women learn Torah, often from women, are frequently cited as evidence of the success of Orthodox feminism. But are these institutions really advancing the cause or does their more fundamental commitment to keeping girls "on the derekh" make them centers of anti-feminism? Emphasizing the perspectives of women educators in midrashot, this session uses anecdotal research to shed light on these concerns.

V'Shenantam L'Vanekha: Feminist Sensitive Education for Boys in Israel, Rabbi Jeremy Stavisky, 2007
While there has been much conversation about girls education and access to texts, the next generation's Orthodox woman does not exist in a vacuum: Attention must be paid to how we educate the next generation's Orthodox man. The current divergence is even more critical in Israel, where in many circles there is a growing movement toward fundamentalism and the segregation of the sexes. Recent events, including the gay parade and the war in Lebanon, have highlighted this division. Himmelfarb High School is one of the most acclaimed Modern Orthodox high schools for boys in Israel. Rabbi Jeremy Stavisky, the school's principal, discusses how he educates the boys to a greater sensitivity to these and other issues.

Other Issues We Care About

Akara Hilkhatit: Halakhic and Medical Perspectives on Early Ovulation, Rosh Kehilah Dina Najman, 2010
When halakhic guidelines make it impossible for a woman to become pregnant due to early ovulation, how does halakha balance the value of having children with the importance of maintaining the seven clean days of the niddah cycle? The session explores the halakhic texts and various responsa literature which present possibilities for women committed to taharat hamishpaha to achieve pregnancy despite early ovulation.

How is this Commentary Different From All Others? Dr. Andrea Weiss and Dr. Wendy Zierler, 2010
Dr. Andrea Weiss, Associate Editor of The Torah: A Women’s Commentary, and Dr. Wendy Zierler, a contributor, will teach from this award winning volume, highlighting Pesach related biblical passages. The Torah: A Women’s Commentary brings together the research and insights of over a hundred Jewish women: scholars, rabbis, and poets from around the world and from all segments of the Jewish community. The discussion focuses on how this commentary was created, what makes it unique, and why it is relevant for an Orthodox audience.

I'm Not a Feminist but I Play One on TV: Media & Gender in Srugim, Shayna Weiss, 2010
Srugim is an Israeli television show that focuses on the lives of religious Zionist singles living in Jerusalem, but the main focus of Srugim is the most universal of subjects: love and dating. What can be learned about religious Zionist attitudes towards sex and dating by watching a fictional television show? How are observant Jews challenging the status quo via new media production? Is there a "religious" way to create television?

Isaac's Mother, Itsik's Muse, Professor Miriam Udel, 2010
This session examines the figure of Biblical Sarah through midrashic eyes, both classical and modern. Including both rabbinic midrash and lyrical poetry by the twentieth-century Yiddish poet Itsik Manger, some of the central tropes in the depiction of the first Jewish woman are considered, especially as she related to others in her family.

The Orthodox Baby Boom: How did it Happen and Can it Go On? Viva Hammer, 2010
Observant Jewish women are having some of the largest families in America. But it hasn't always been so. Why are religious women having more children than their mothers? Can families and the communities afford these blessings? Is the trend a nine-day wonder, or a permanent fixture in the religious world?

Reading In: A Conversation about Women, Orthodoxy, and the Writing Life, Dr. Sylvia Barak Fishman and Tova Mirvis, 2010
Novelist Tova Mirvis and Professor Sylvia Barack Fishman talk about contemporary Jewish fiction by and about women. Mirvis offers a unique window into the novels that have inspired her and other writers and discusses why Jewish themes resonate in current fiction. Together, Mirvis and Fishman analyze new directions in fiction, and discuss the role multiculturalism has played in Jewish literature.

The Tent, the Field, and the Battlefield: The Dynamic Face of Biblical Motherhood, Judy Klitsner, 2010
What do the infertile, tent-dwelling mothers of Genesis have in common with the military and spiritual leaders of the book of Judges? The stories of a range of biblical women are examined, common themes are noted as well as striking literary inversions of matriarchal and patriarchal language and roles