Call for Articles for Summer 2021 JOFA Journal:
 

Responses to the Covid-19 Pandemic:

Personal, Institutional, Religious, Communal

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought many challenges and transformations to our Jewish world

as well as to our society at large. The 2021 JOFA Journal will examine these changes through

the lens of Jewish feminism, as the pandemic has revealed societal and communal strengths and

weaknesses. We will explore the lessons learned on both a personal and an institutional level.

Articles on any aspect of the pandemic and its consequences for the Jewish community are

welcome from the general public. Please submit all articles by May 28. Word count for full-length pieces may vary from 750 to 2,000 words. Photos or artwork relating to any aspect of our topic are also welcome. Send to jofa@jofa.org.

I. Societal changes:

How have the shifting of jobs to remote work and the partial

closing of schools and daycare facilities affected gender roles in the family and the

economic status of women? How has this played out in the Orthodox community,

with its generally larger families and gendered lifestyles?

II. Institutional changes:

1. How have Jewish schools dealt with balancing safety issues and the need to

provide Torah and secular education?

2. What educational opportunities have opened for adult Jewish women that would

otherwise have been unavailable? What is lost in forgoing in-person learning?

3. How have Jewish organizations shifted to online communication and

programming? How have they proven their relevance during the pandemic?

4. How have synagogues and schools redesigned their use of space and services to

maximize safety? Have women’s spaces been preserved adequately?

5. What changes brought about by necessity will remain after the pandemic?

III. Religious changes

1. How have mikvaot functioned during the pandemic? What decisions had to be

made and how were they arrived at? How have women dealt with the partial

closure of mikvaot?

2. When synagogues have needed to close or drastically limit the number of

participants at a time, how has this affected women’s inclusion in prayer? Tell us

of cases where women have fought for inclusion when attendance was limited.

3. Life-cycle celebrations: How have we adapted brises, bat mitzvahs, weddings,

and funerals to Covid restrictions? Tell us of women taking more active roles in

sha’at dehak (emergency times) and of bat mitzvah girls adapting their rites of

passage. Let’s hear from 11-to-12-year-old girls about how they feel about this.

4. Conversions and gittin: Did these status-altering ceremonies, which require

physical presence, continue during the pandemic? If not, what were the

consequences for women?

5. Shabbat and holiday observances: How did families and singles deal with

Shabbatot and holidays in isolation, particularly with Pesach? Did some

authorities allow for Zoom seders?

6. Mourning: How have communities dealt with mourners Kaddish and with shivas?

7. Rabbinic responses to she’elot (questions): What new questions were being

asked? Were new leniencies granted due to sha’at dehak?

8. Rabbinic leadership: Did the definition of rabbinic leadership shift when rabbis

were without their pulpits? Did they find themselves fulfilling new pastoral roles?

9. Women rabbis: Did women rabbis in particular find their roles changed during

Covid-19? Did they face new challenges both spiritually and institutionally?

 

IV. Communal

1. How did Jewish communities reach out to the lonely, the isolated, and the

jobless?

2. How were issues of food and rent insecurity dealt with in local communities?

3. How did dating take place during the pandemic?

4. How have communities dealt with differences in compliance with Covid-19

regulations among its members?

5. How did individuals come to appreciate (or denigrate) the pulls of community?

Will they likely come back in greater numbers or stay away or on Zoom?

V. Personal: Tell us your pandemic story in about 100 words. Everyone has been

affected personally in some way—by isolation, by loss, by moving back in with

parents, by changing professional or interpersonal status--and many have had

transformative experiences during the pandemic. Share your personal story in

approximately 100 words.

VI. The big picture

1. What might we learn from how Jewish communities in other times dealt with

pandemics (bubonic plague, the Spanish flu of 1918)? Are there precedents in the

halakhic literature that might be useful?

2. What theological issues are raised by difficult times? How does one address the

questions of theodicy in a time of widespread suffering?

3. What guidance about theodicy have we received from Jewish women teachers?

4. What sources of hope, optimism, and strength have we found from this period of

fundamental change?

 

Articles on any aspect of the pandemic and its consequences for the Jewish community are

welcome from the general public. Please submit short personal essays by May 10 and longer

articles by May 21. Word count for full-length pieces may vary from 750 to 2,000 words. Photos

or artwork relating to any aspect of our topic are also welcome. Send to jofa@jofa.org.