Thu, 04/03/2014 - 4:05pm -- JOFA

By Elana Sztokman

Elana SztokmanSince I began working at JOFA, first as Interim Director and then as Executive Director, the staff and I have been inundated with the question: “How does she do it?” I tend to wonder what “it” is – work in a high-pressure job, leave my kids once in a while, or take a job that I really love? But let’s assume that for the most part the question refers to the issue of my travel and living arrangements; after all, I live in Israel and work in New York, and I have four children ages 9-19, and that feels like an impossible combination.

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Thu, 04/03/2014 - 4:05pm -- JOFA

Robin & ElanaNYC, November 28, 2012 -- Longtime Orthodox feminist activist Dr. Elana Maryles Sztokman has been named the new Executive Director of JOFA, the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, effective immediately. Dr. Sztokman, 42, who holds a doctorate in gender and education from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is the author of two books on gender issues in Orthodoxy, and is one of the founders of the organization Mavoi Satum, which helps women denied divorce in Israel. She brings a rich and varied background to the position, and a strong passion for the issue. 

“We...

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Thu, 04/03/2014 - 4:05pm -- JOFA

By Elana Sztokman

I was excited to participate last week in a colloquium of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) on the subject of “The Chief Rabbinate and Israel-Diaspora Relations” because it marked a very important moment for women advancing social change in Israel. The colloquium, organized by Dr. Steven Bayme, brought together some 50 leaders of Jewish organizations from Israel and America to discuss the impact of the state rabbinical institutions on Jewish identity in Israel and America. The event was not only a welcome opportunity to engage with top Jewish minds on topics of great interest, but more importantly signaled an important stage of development in the impact of so-called “women’s issues” on Jewish discourse at...

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Thu, 04/03/2014 - 4:05pm -- JOFA

By JOFA Staff

Dina BrawerJOFA is to launch activities and programs in London. This follows the comprehensive JLC report entitled Inspiring Women Leaders: Advancing Gender Equality in Jewish Communal Life.

While only one element of the report focused on ritual participation for women, this issue received disproportionate attention from the women who attended the consultation meeting held on March 22, 2012. Numerous women raised the issue of their lack of participation in Orthodox ritual life and expressed their frustration that their voices were not being heard by the...

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Thu, 04/03/2014 - 4:05pm -- JOFA

By Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld

Vayishlach, 5773 

As Yaakov is preparing to meet his brother Esav and he is afraid of what his wicked brother might do, the Torah tells us that Yaakov brings his eleven children across the river to meet Esav (Genesis 32:23).

Rashi citing the Midrash immediately notices that Yaakov has not eleven children, but twelve. Rashi asks: “Vedinah heichan haytah? Where was Dinah?” Rashi answers:

He put her into a box and locked her in, so that Esav would not set eyes on her. Therefore, Jacob was punished for withholding her from his brother- because perhaps she would cause him to improve his ways-and she fell into the hands of Shechem. [Rashi 32:23, from Gen. Rabbah 75:9]

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Thu, 04/03/2014 - 4:05pm -- JOFA

RKFRachel (pronounced ra-ĤEL) Kohl Finegold, The Education and Ritual Director of Anshe Sholom B'nai Israel Congregation, where she also holds the Dr. Carol Fuchs Kaufman Rabbanit Chair, will be part of the first graduating class of Yeshivat Maharat this coming June. As a member of the newest cohort of religious women leaders in the Orthodox world, and one of a handful of women around the country who hold official clergy positions in Orthodox shuls, Ms. Finegold has a vital perspective on religious life in America and on the transformations around gender and leadership that the community...

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Thu, 04/03/2014 - 4:05pm -- JOFA

Chaye KohlBy Chaye Kohl 

THE JEWISH STATE www.thejewishstate.net 


March 14, 2008 

Author's note: The Purim story highlights the leadership of Queen Esther. Today, in the modern Orthodox community, more young women have become leaders within Jewish communal life, providing services that until now were the purview of assistant rabbis. This column highlights Rachel Kohl Finegold, a former resident of Highland Park, now Education and Ritual Director at Anshe Sholom B'nai Israel Congregation...

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Thu, 04/03/2014 - 4:05pm -- JOFA


By Elana Maryles Sztokman

When I decided to take this job as Executive Director of JOFA, one of the most thrilling incentives for me was that I would have the opportunity to work with women whose work I have admired for so long. The image of standing on the shoulders of giants keeps returning to me, as I learn more about the organization and its powerful history of making change. To honor this truth, and to give the well-deserved respect to women whose dedication to gender advancement in Orthodox life built this organization, the staff and I have decided that we are going to use the space of the Spotlight Blog to profile the JOFA leadership. We started with JOFA treasurer Allie Alperovich, and we will continue to do...

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Thu, 04/03/2014 - 4:05pm -- JOFA

This is a statement sent out by Kolech and Mavoi Satum in Israel about a mutual respect campaign.  

Women's organizations to party leaders: "Do not support extortion during divorce proceedings"

30 organizations have sent a letter to political party leaders demanding legislation to prevent get refusal and extortion during divorce proceedings.  

Yesterday thirty women's organizations led by "Mavoi Satum" and Kolech " asked all political party leaders to support a solution to get refusal during divorce proceedings in Israel. In a letter to party leaders  the organizations suggested a way to avoid the phenomenon of extortion and get refusal by encouraging...

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Thu, 04/03/2014 - 4:05pm -- JOFA

By Ilanna Newman 

 Ilanna NewmanEarlier this month, a friend sent me a video by The Factuary called “What Do Feminists Have Left?”  It argued that though we have come incredibly far in the last century, there are five things feminists in America have left to fight for: equal pay, access to reproductive care, greater media representation, an end to rape culture, and an end to microaggression.  I hadn’t encountered the term microaggression before, so I delved into its history and broadened meaning. The term was coined in 2007 by the psychiatrist Chester M. Pierce and originally was used...

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