By: Dina Brawer
My involvement with JOFA (Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance) began 10 years ago when I started to attend JOFA's international conferences, where I encountered people and ideas I found deeply enriching.
In November 2011 I attended JOFA's first Celebration dinner and was inspired to bring some of JOFA's work to the UK. I began a consultation with JOFA's leadership and agreed to take on the (voluntary) role of JOFA UK Ambassador as there were several indications that a platform to facilitate the conversation about feminism and Orthodoxy was needed in the UK.
Perhaps the most compelling was the experience of being at the JLC's 'Commission on Women in Jewish Leadership' open meeting in March 2012 where, despite the best efforts to try and keep the parameters of the discussion on cross-communal lay leadership, several United Synagogue women kept raising issues of restricted access to leadership and ritual in the Synagogue context. There was a distinct feeling in the room that these were issues that had been suppressed and that the built up pressure had finally found an outlet. There was an outpour of energy, passion and frustration. It was clear that a space for this conversation was not yet available, but very much needed.
More specifically, I believe that JOFA can address three points that emerged from the JLC's report:
- women lacking confidence in Jewish setting
- the confusion which is due to varying interpretations of halacha
- gender stereotypes in Jewish schools
JOFA UK held its first open meeting in March 2013 attended by 70 women and several men.
At the meeting participants were invited to work in 'Open Space' and a number of lively debates took place over topics proposed by the participants themselves. Issues discussed ranged from gender-sensitive education in primary schools to increasing women's involvement in synagogue ritual and leadership.
Continue reading this post at www.jhub.org.uk/spotlight/bringing-jofa
Dina Brawer is the JOFA UK Ambassador.
This blog was re-posted with permission from JHub.org.uk