JOFA's blog

Why I Wear a Tallit

Tue, 06/04/2013 - 1:44pm -- JOFA

By Josie Glausiusz

Sivan at the KotelShortly after Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation on February 11, 2013, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz published a picture of the now-Pope Emeritus placing a note in a slot between the stones of the Western Wall.1 When I looked at the image it occurred to me that a Catholic Pope not renowned for his love of the Jews could pray in his priestly garb at the Western Wall, but a Jewish woman could then be arrested at the same site for wearing a tallit, a prayer shawl.

I posted that comment with a picture of the Pope at the Wall on Facebook, and shortly afterwards I received a response: “A gentile who cares let him go in pajamas but a Jew distorting our religion should get lost.”

JOFA Launches Torah Lending Program for Girls & Women

Tue, 05/14/2013 - 9:50am -- JOFA

Joan S. Meyers Memorial Torah Lending Program Kicks Off with Women’s Service and Celebration on June 9, 2013

The Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA) announces the launch of the Joan S. Meyers Memorial Torah Lending Program. Through this innovative initiative, girls and women in the tristate area will be able to borrow a Sefer Torah to use in ritual prayer settings for events such as bat mitzvahs, engagements, marriages, births, Rosh Chodesh, and other milestones.

JOFA’s Zelda Stern to Invest in First Clergy position for Yeshivat Maharat Graduate at D.C.’s National Synagogue

Mon, 05/13/2013 - 12:58pm -- JOFA

The Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA) and Yeshivat Maharat have jointly paved the way for a member of the first graduating class of Yeshivat Maharat to begin her career as a full member of the clergy at Ohev Sholom-The National Synagogue in Washington, D.C.  Leading feminist philanthropist and JOFA board member Zelda R. Stern will partially underwrite this new position for Ruth Balinsky Friedman, a graduate of Yeshivat Maharat, who begins her tenure at Ohev Sholom beginning in July 2013.

Zelda R. Stern's Speech Announcing the Initiative to Fund a Maharat Leadership Position

Mon, 05/13/2013 - 12:48pm -- JOFA

The following are remarks made by JOFA founding Board Member Zelda R. Stern announcing the initiative to fund a Maharat position in the National Synagogue in Washington, DC

By Zelda R. Stern

Zelda SternParshat Behar, which we read this past Shabbat, was my Bat-Mitzvah Parshah.  Having been raised along with my five siblings in a Conservative Jewish home, I was privileged to celebrate a Bat-Mitzvah, something not yet done in 1962 in the Orthodox world.  And I was fortunate that my parents rejoiced in the Bat Mitzvah celebrations of my three sisters and me and afforded us the same dignity and value as they did the Bar-Mitzvahs of my two brothers.

In my 20s I became more observant, and finally, in my late 20s, declared myself Orthodox, having fallen in love with the richness and depth of learning and ritual I found in the Orthodox world.

I continued on my journey, but in my late 40s began to feel increasing discomfort with the way women were excluded from so much of Orthodox life.

Courage and Personal Struggle in the Book of Ruth

Mon, 05/13/2013 - 12:37pm -- JOFA

Ruth Balinsky FriedmanBy Ruth Balinsky Friedman

The Book of Ruth is one of the most beautiful stories in the Torah. Like many legendary tales, it begins with a situation of despair for the main characters, followed by stories of courage and personal struggle, and concludes with salvation delivered through the arrival of outside parties. However, what distinguishes the Book of Ruth from other stories is that there are no bad guys; the only antagonist is tragic circumstance. There are, however, two classes of characters in the Book of Ruth - the characters who simply do what is expected of them, and the characters who go above and beyond the law.

Sugar and Spice: Ruth as a Paradigm for Unsustainable Niceness?

Mon, 05/13/2013 - 12:32pm -- JOFA

By Chava Evans

Have you ever seen the Saturday Night Live parody, “Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy?” (If you haven’t, I’ll wait a minute while you Google it. Got it? OK.)  If there were a Bat Mitzvah version of this spoof, I imagine the young woman would be delivering a pre-packaged discourse on Ruth as a model of loving-kindness. Orthodox pedagogy relentlessly presents Ruth as angelically kind and unerringly modest.

Feminist Explorations of Sacred Home, Destruction and Love: Tisha b’Av and T”U b’Av

Wed, 05/08/2013 - 12:31pm -- JOFA

By Bonna Devora Haberman


I plan to be in the northeastern USA to teach a rabbinic seminar in July 2013. I am looking for wonderful venues and communities to run bold new community-wide programs,
 jointly sponsored events – feminist approaches to Tisha B’Av, the commemoration of the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, and the celebration of T”U B'Av. Here is a draft to indicate some of the ideas; I am flexible about tailoring these sessions, both content and form, to the interests of the groups involved.

Why do Jewish Women Still Need to Demand Equality?

Tue, 05/07/2013 - 3:12pm -- JOFA

By Sharon Shenhav

At the KnessetWe are well into the 21st Century and Jewish women are not only the majority of the Jewish people, they are highly educated, articulate and well organized. So why haven't they achieved equality

The international Council of Jewish Women, an umbrella organization with affiliates in 43 countries, held a demonstration at the Knesset on Sunday, entitled "Jewish Women Worldwide Demand Equality".

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