By Dina Brawer
They came from all across London on an unseasonably cold and blustery night. Many of the women and men who attended the launch of JOFA UK on Tuesday night spoke of feeling present at an historic and momentous occasion. JOFA UK ambassador Dina Brawer who organised the event introduced the evening by framing the definitions of Orthodoxy and Feminism. She also gave a moving account of how JOFA helped her embark on her own Orthodox feminist journey and spoke of the many outstanding women she met through JOFA who continue to be a deep source of inspiration. JOFA in the UK sets out to be a horizontal organisation in which anyone with passion and ideas can get involved and take their ideas forward. To this end the major part of the evening was dedicated to working with ‘Open Space Technology’, a method that invites participants to stand up, select and take responsibility for the issues they passionately care about.
Eight such groups formed and within minutes the room was filled with lively discussion and debate over the various topics proposed. Issues discussed included gender education in primary schools, the level of Jewish education in Jewish secondary schools, the increasing involvement of women in synagogue ritual and leadership and changing current communal and rabbinic perception and attitudes. By the end of the evening there was a sense that a community had just been created. JOFA had given an otherwise disparate group of Orthodox feminist individuals a home, a platform, and a voice. And they are harnessing this momentum with the fierce urgency of now as JOFA UK plans to hold its first conference on Sunday 9th June 2013 in London.
Exciting times lie ahead.