"Women in Judaism" was the subject of a panel discussion at Theater J of the Washington JCC where JOFA Executive Director spoke earlier this month. The panel, moderated by The Forward editor in chief Jane Eisner, also with the participation of Lilith Editor Susan Weidman Schneider, followed the Theater J production of Apples in the Desert, an Israeli play about a haredi sephardic girl who runs away from her troubled home to move in with a secular Ashkenazi kibbutznik.
Elanit Z Rothschild Jakabovics was recently elected as the first woman president of Kesher Israel Synagogue in Washington, DC. Elanit, a 33-year old management consultant with Grant Thornton and a mother of two originally from Staten Island, is not only the first woman but also the youngest president in the shul, whose rabbi is Rabbi Barry Freundel. JOFA Executive Director Elana Sztokman sat down with Elanit to hear about her new position, and to hear about ways that other women can be inspired to follow suit in their own shuls:
WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME SHUL PRESIDENT?
By Nili Philipp
Since our family moved from Shoham thirteen years ago, we've seen Beit Shemesh transform from a quiet, pastoral and diverse city, to a city associated with volatile extremism. Within the first few months of our move, I had a hint of what was ahead. I had swung through Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet (RBS-B), a brand new haredineighborhood, to run some quick errands. RBS-B is conveniently located close to home and boasts a vibrant commercial district with adjacent parking and the area's only cash machine. After my errands, I offered two haredi women a ride to Jerusalem and the conversation was pleasant and friendly, until they commented in a quiet, evasive tone “we like our apartments, but the...
There is more than one way to form a Jewish marriage. This was a central message emerging from a recent conference in Jerusalem called “New Understandings of Gender, Love and the Jewish Family,” co-sponsored by the VanLeer Jerusalem Institute, the Hadassah Brandeis Institute and the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University entitled. The conference offered a broad range of creative approaches to burning issues...
By Mona Berdugo
After almost half a year of learning the daf yomi I finally posted something about it on my Facebook status. Lately, Facebook has been extremely interested in knowing what's on my mind – so I told it that the discussion about Hebrew letters on that day's daf (Shabbat 104) reminded me of a children's song and now I can't get that song out of my head. The next thing I know, my good friend (in real life and on Facebook) Elana Sztokman, aka Executive Director of JOFA is asking me if I want to write a blog about my daf yomi experience! Wow. I haven't been hiding the fact that I'm doing thedaf from anyone, but I haven't exactly been advertising it either. It took me six months to even mention...
Judy Abel, JOFA's VP of communications, is a seasoned journalist and mother of three living on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. She also is the current president of the Yavneh Minyan, as well as one of its key founders. As part of the JOFA series on women's leadership and women women presidents, JOFA Executive Director Elana Sztokman asked Judy about her work as shulpresident and her vision of Orthodox women's leadership:
WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME SHUL PRESIDENT?
I became the president of Kehilat Yavneh, which my husband, Michael Brill, and I founded,...
By Helyn Steppa
My daughter has a heart of glass and someone’s bound to break it
My daughter knows her worth so she knows when someone takes it
By Rabbi Zev Farberg
Partnership minyanim such as Shira Hadasha in Jerusalem and Darkhei Noam in New York, wherein women lead certain parts of the service, are becoming a significant force in the prayer experience of the Modern Orthodox community. Although these currently exist only in the biggest Jewish communities, they also exist on numerous college campuses, and as time goes on the phenomenon will probably expand. For some, like me, this is an exciting possibility. However, those in the Modern Orthodox camp who believe that women’s leadership of any part of the synagogue service is a violation of...
By Gavriel Brown
“I’m not a feminist.”
“So you don’t believe in equal opportunity or equal pay?” I ask. “Oh, but of course I do.”
This trope stings my ear whenever I hear it, and I hear it all too often. In my experience at Yeshiva University, feminism is treated as a pathology and feminists are labeled as liberal fanatics; admit to being a feminist, and you must be a bra-burning, man-hating lesbian or an emasculated weirdo. It is therefore not surprising that a vast majority of women (and men, but that goes without saying) don’t consider themselves feminists and many of the most committed, politically engaged and active student leaders at Stern College shy away from the term. This troubles me.
By Elana Sztokman
Three years ago this month, Rabba Sara Hurwitz made history in the Jewish world by becoming the first publicly ordained female rabbi in the Orthodox community. Since then, the 35-year-old mother of three has been working as Dean of Yeshivat Maharat, an institution dedicated to training women Orthodox clergy, as well as working as Rabba at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale. The first three women are set to...