Jewish Women and Religious Change in Israel and the United States: Divergence and Dialogue


– I’m Lisa Fishbayn
Joffe, I’m the director of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, and it’s my pleasure to
welcome you to Jewish Women in Religious Change in Israel and America. The HBI supports research
on Jews and gender and Jewish women, and
has a particular interest in the fascinating work
and the important work women are doing to affect
religious change around the world. And this event came about because we have, in our residence in HBI
and in the neighborhood, two wonderful creative
researchers who are looking at women who are
affecting religious change in the state of Israel. And we’ve organized this
path so they can share their research and we can
reflect on the relationship between work and innovation
happening in Israel, and work and innovation
happening here in America. So, we’ll be hearing from researchers who are looking at a range of strategies, places where this innovation is happening in women’s religious
leadership, in prayer, in ritual, in organizing. And we’ll hear about initiatives
across the life cycle. A student perspective
from women who are young, are middle aged, and women in older age about how they’re affecting
religious change in their life. And we’re also going to be hearing about how this all happens
across the denominations in both local movements and
in Orthodoxy, in both places. So the structure of the evening will be that we will hear the two central papers from our Israeli researchers and then we’ll be joined
by two commentators. The first two researchers will stand here and give their talks with their slides so everyone can see
them and then the panel will all join them together
to have a conversation. So we’re gonna start
with Moria Ran Ben Hai. Dr. Moria Ran Ben Hai, who
is here at HBI for the year as a scholar in residence. She is a recent recipient of her PhD from Bar Ilan University
in The Land of Israel and Archeology Department. Her dissertation looked at the work of Professor Alice Shalvi and her impact on women’s status in Israeli society. Dr. Moria Ran Ben Hai has studied also at Bar Ilan’s Seminary for Women, The Midrasha for Women and at Midrashet Lindenbaum,
focusing on Talmud. She teaches at the Open
University of Israel and prior to that she was a convener of a workshop on Religious
Women and Research and taught at the Pelech High
School for Girls in Tel Aviv. She is here for the year
working on a research project on Orthodox feminism
in Israel and the U.S., looking at both Kolech and JOFA. Please welcome Dr. Ran Ben Hai. (clappin ) – Hi, thank you, and thank
you very much (mumbling) and the staff for this evening. I’m really, really excited. How Jewish women are
challenging Israeli Orthodoxy. Leah Shakdiel was elected to serve on the Yeruham Religious Council in 1986. I was born then. (laughter) She was elected and Yeruham
is a very far, small city. Who cares she was elected? Well the member of
Knesset, Zevulun Hammer, did care and he said nope and he claimed that women could not hold
a religious position. So Shakdiel petitioned to
the High Court of Justice and she won. So two years later she was the first to serve on
religious council in Israel. In 2019, Shakdiel was
ordained to the rabbinate in Rabbi Herzl Hefter’s Beit Midrash. So even today she’s
challenging Jewish Orthodoxy. However, even before the Supreme Court and in even similar events
and smaller events of court. In 1975, Professor Shalvi, Alice Shalvi, became the principal of
Pelech High School for Girls. It was ultra-orthodox then and now it’s religious and is. But she decided that girls, her students who were
taught to the Talmud, to the final exams, and whoever
will teach them will be. And this was like a very non common thing and when it was termed parents threatened to take their girls out of the school but Professor Shalvi decided
that she will continue and as you will see it passed
and everything is okay. The results of Alice Shalvi’s acts, and other acts of other women of course, are far reaching and
influential to this day. It would be accurate
to say that their acts in some ways we can process
and we still see influential. For example, the Siyum HaShas Daf Yomi. Siyum HaShas celebration and the Daf Yomi, the daily page, began in 1923. Poland it was of this, but for
a man, to learn one page of Babylonian Talmud every day
for seven and a half years and this year we were able to celebrate, and I’m saying we because I celebrated from here in the commodities. We were a group of women
and men who celebrated by live stream from Israel also. More than 3000 women were
in this event in Israel. Why are things like women
being elected or serving in religious council in
Israel, or learning Talmud, teaching Talmud, is
challenging Jewish Orthodoxy in Israel, why? First I think we need to understand what is Orthodoxy in Israel? Beside the fact that Jewish Orthodox is the most conservative and traditional denomination of Judaism, it is also the institutional sect in Israel. It means that it actually
affects own laws. That although the state of Israel is open for old Jews and from all the regions, and it’s Jewish and Democratic. It actually have only
one way of performing religious faiths, the Orthodox way. So rabbinical or ordained; marriage, divorce, burial, conversion, (in foreign language) everything
is only the Orthodox way. So the chief rabbis, both Sephardi and Ashkenazi are very ultra-orthodox as you can see but the population is not that ultra-orthodox, it’s
from 2014, it’s very recent so it doesn’t necessarily represent the Jewish population in Israel. This is a glad to feminist
actions and struggles as we can see, this we shall see. In this lecture I would
like to ask those questions and up front see the answers
you can see afterwards. But what Israel is feminism? How do women challenge their
traditional gender role and is it a feminist act? I don’t know, maybe it’s a
social act and is learning Talmud, is reading
Torah, what is feminism? Luckily for me a few weeks
ago a questionnaire called, questionnaire for
religious women in Israel. It is actually “Questionnaire
for religious women on religious feminism,”
from the Danit menagem, was published in one
of the Facebook groups named, it’s a long page, just a sec. Let’s see, “I’m a ‘religious’ feminist and I also don’t have a sense of humor” In Hebrew is, (in foreign language). Yeah, it’s a long name I know. And the acronyms are
(in foreign language). It’s not the exact acronym
but it’s very likely to say (in foreign language). She was very calm this student and she shared the results with me. Of 16,000 members of
the group only 74 women replied this questionnaire so
it’s not that representative of– (audience mumbling) I know, I know. I’m sorry. It brings up very important points. The ages as we can see
from the age of 50 women observed women are very interested in their place in Judaism. But the funny thing was on
the comments on Facebook you could see the replies
that women over 50 was very angry because
they don’t have place in the questionnaire. Okay, so we see it has
no that it has no width. There appears to be two
visible geographical centers. Jerusalem, Gush Etzion, and Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan and Giv’at
Shmuel, Central of Israel. And of course the peripheral we can see, I mean it’s just 74 women, I know, I know. We still can see that. In those places, in central places, you’re most likely to
find egalitarian minyans or partnership minyans
and seminars for women, (foreign language) for
women, and the peripheral however, maybe they
don’t have Shira Hadasha. Which is the most famous and
pioneer partnership minyan. But they do care about their
aspects of Orthodox feminism in their life and they do act for it. There was a question, “Do you define yourself as a feminist?” Of course 70 women answered yes. Responding to the question,
“Are there any issues “in religion, in Judaism, that you think “should improve in their
attitude towards women?” I didn’t do the question,
it’s her question, so I’m sorry for, I just translated. Okay, so we can see that
64 marked, she had a list, so you could mark issues, okay. So it’s not their comments
it’s just they marked it. So 64 Agunah, 62 women
in leadership roles. You can see those
numbers and only one vote for women’s status in synagogue. I think this was my vote
and it’s very very different than the American Jewish Orthodoxy, right? It goes on to Agunah questions
so I just brought those. So we can learn that the issues that which we would challenge
Orthodoxy in Israel are related to status of women, in front of their biblical establishment, women as religious leaders,
women Torah studies and intimacy and sexuality. There are actually groups
specific on that issue. (In foreign language),
like to touch, to love, and everything for Orthodoxy
men and women actually. It’s very interesting. So now I wish I had time to
demonstrate each issue however I’m afraid just so two Facebook groups who actually tackles all of those issues. And reaches geographical
locations, ages, and gender gaps. It allows the personal
to become political. And a year and a half ago a book named, (in foreign language) I’m sorry, “The New Religious Women” was published by journalist (in foreign language) and in her book she actually
she reports changes. So it’s very important book and I think it’s an opening for academic work. The social network is
excellent research tool for me. It has names, faces of course. It has pictures, videos,
dates, dates, dates all day. It’s great tool for me. But before we dive into Facebook we really need to understand
that women challenge Orthodoxy in Israel since the ’70s and I guess even before that but especially since the ’70s and as we can see here in the timeline we can see that (in foreign language) with her women’s tefillah group in her own house with her own Torah scroll that she had from her
family because no other synagogue would give
her a scroll of course. In the 90s we can see
(in foreign language) were biblical warriors who helped Agunots and other women in front
of their biblical court. And Kolech was formed,
which was the organization, the religious transition
for women in Israel. You can see them all and then
that leads to the Facebook. Eight years ago the Facebook group that we talked about earlier,
“I’m a religious feminist “and I also don’t have a sense of humor”. This is the profile picture of the group and it revolves with a humor joke. (in foreign language) It’s
a mitzvah, a commandment that most people in our days don’t do it. If you’re hungry on the
way and there is a nest and inside the nest there
is eggs and you want it so you have to first, I don’t know how– – Shoo, the bird, the mother bird, and only then take the eggs. Never happened to me. So it’s like a joke when people ask, people, anti-feminists ask on the group, “Oh what’s going on, what do
you want more commandments? “Do what you need to do,” and they’ll ask, “Oh really did you (in
foreign language) already?” Okay, so its like a joke
and it became the symbol of the most (in foreign
language) of course. It’s a public Facebook
group and it encourages sharing of events, of
members, private flights within the framework of religion. I’m going to read, just a sec. Okay, I know it’s a lot of words. This is the group description. You don’t have to read, you
can just listen, that’s okay. It is a place for women to share events from their lives within their religion. A place where they can laugh at everything without justifying, without
apologizing of course. It’s a safe place, yes? In our home we do not intend
to engage in protection. Not on our religiously
nor on our feminism. I’ll skip, the WOW women,
the women of the world women should not apologize but in this group the LGBTQ community and
especially a religious one will be protected from attacks. It’s a safe place from all, it’s a trust and elimination approved,
and all people can come and share their experience and
they don’t seek for advice. They don’t seek for advice, of course not. Though the group is mostly Orthodox the way of Juda is not Orthodox way. Men are welcome but that’s
in the last paragraph. Feminist men you are
definitely welcome here but on one condition do not
take over the discourse. The group is theirs as
a social change agent and many aspects of religious female life are discussed there. Such
as (in foreign language) weddings, past high school
experiences, or seminars. The group provides a safe place for a positive and negative experience of Jewish female and even for a humor. You should go scan there afterwards. I did a bar of there you
can scan and see her video. (in foreign language) she’s very funny. Among one of their arguments
of (in foreign language) one of the members felt
attacked because she was pro (in foreign language) and she was attacked because of that. So she went and started her own group. “Halachic Feminists”
I’m saying female there because (in foreign language) is the female way to say it. The Halachic Feminists,
it has this description. That’s really discriminate
with consciousness and a lot of commitment so they are Halachic commitment and
a lot of the feminists men to participate and they allow it, yes. It is equal and see them
as essential part of the gospel dissemination process. (mumbling) Let’s see, the starting point we’re in. Inside Halacha, we don’t let Halacha to be or to be far away from us or
not to be obligated to it. Moreover we’ll be happy
if we can also reach operative actions and
not just consciousness in religious Zionist community aspects. It’s really important to
represent actual practical change. Our group is closed club
where women are exposed and talk openly and
protected space is necessary. Okay so, both groups starting
point here is Halacha very different from the first one, and it’s location is
actually creating changes. Unlike the first group, which is like the second way with feminism right? In consciousness, the second group is actually sticking
for Halachic solutions and Halachic practical solutions. They don’t want to give up
their religious identity. They don’t want to give up
their feminist identity. So they’re trying to hold them together and sometimes just to be
upset about it together. Second group also had
hierarchy of knowledge. It’s not gender hierarchy
it’s knowledge hierarchy. So (in foreign language)and
(in foreign language) the callers for both
genders are respected there. They’re honored there. To see how discussions are going on and someone will write just a second lets see what (in foreign language) which we saw in the picture
of (in foreign language) will say about that. People actually care to hear
what the scholars have to say. Which issues are being
challenged on Facebook? There are many groups as I said and I’m talking about those too. Still celebrating home days. Can I read the Torah? Should I dance with Torah scroll? How do I make women’s
reading, how do I do that? Sometimes it’s question about masculine. The commandments such as
four species of Sukkot or should I sit in the Sukkah and say the (in foreign language) the blessing, can I? Kaddish at Orphan’s parish? Sometimes it’s about the synagogue. Partition, minyan, (in foreign language) Maybe just to go over the partition. I don’t know let’s talk about that and sometimes it’s about
rituals as weddings (in foreign language)
when a girl is burned and then we all celebrate
that, and those questions. Also shaming for refusal husbands. For those who won’t get their
certificate to their wives and also sometimes the
organization who helps those women inside their herd can say on Facebook, “Can you please come and
protest here in this court?” and we will come, we will come. It is also common to
publish horror stories and (in foreign language)
about (in foreign language). In fact we can see that today every religious feminist issue are addressed in those social networks and I think that the most significant challenge that women face in Orthodoxy is a fear of hierarchy
of knowledge and rule. After the revolution of women starting combined with the growing social power, in the new generation of knowledge Halacha and knowledgeable scholar and
activist were established. Facebook gives them a stage and the religious establishment cannot silence or control their voices. Leah Shakdiel which we began with has actually a very active
profile on Facebook. Yes, she’s protesting from there and publishing her thoughts and everything that she wants and I will conclude with the words of Fadlachushiyu, this feminist group. Deborah Arushes, she’s the founder of the Fadlachushiyu. For me, Facebook has
another huge advantage. It is in every home, which is why it turns the traditional
patriarchal order. the internal space
allotted to women no longer sorry, the internal space
allotted to women no longer leads to detachment to the outside and from the centers of influence. You don’t have to go out,
find babysitter, study, do a PhD, travel far to find
yourself, find out who you are and what’s important to you. You can connect from your own computer or phone and influence reality. I do that actually every night when I’m putting to sleep my son. I inside, I have seat at the table when I’m putting my son to sleep. Okay, thank you very much. (clapping) – Thank you very much. That’s an interesting perspective on the rule of social media
communities as a space for consciousness, you
know what I’m saying. And maybe there’s a space
where practical actions and also finding new Halachic decisions and new sources for Halachic decisions and alternative authorities. Our next speaker is Dr. Einat Libel-Hass who is an anthropologist of religion and an historian, she is currently a post doctoral fellow in
the Sociology Department at Bar Ilan and lecturer
in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies at
Ashkelon Academic College. Her PhD was on the
Development of Liberal Reform and Conservative Judaism in Tel Aviv. It won the Churgin Award for
Outstanding Doctoral Thesis. Her academic interests
include: cultural dynamics between Israel and the
US, urban anthropology, Liberal Judaism and
congregational studies. She has presented her work in many prestigious academic conferences and one American-Jewish
archives published it to develop this work in 2017 and 2018. So, we’re very happy that she’s sharing it with us today. (clapping) – I’m really excited to be here today and I want to thank Professor Sarna, Professor Fishbayn and all the others. I’m sorry if I missed someone. I’m going to speak about
the Jewish women in their reform and conservative
settings in Israel. Past, present, and personal. The Reform and Conservative
movements in Israel were established in the late ’60s and they have promoted
gender equality and regimes. During this presentation I will focus on active women in reform congregation and in reform movement. Seems the reform movement
is the most liberal Jewish religious movement in Israel. And I will present the
stories with the women who are active in it. Over the years the composition of the liberal movement in Israel
has changed dramatically. Initially they were founded by American speaking immigrants and in time Israeli born
families and individuals began to take part and even to take up formidable positions. My talk is basically a
demographic field work which I conducted in two congregations. Beit Daniel, you can
see in the slide show, is the you can say, the most well known Israeli reform synagogue in Israel and it resides in Tel Aviv. It was established in 1991 by immigrants from English and German speaking countries as the reform movements
have in the Tel Aviv area. From the very beginning
they function as both. As a synagogue and a community center offering cultural and
educational activities alongside religious services. And I also conducted a
demographic field work in a very small conservative
congregation in Ramat Aviv. Which was attended mainly by the people living Tel Aviv. In those congregations I
was especially interested in the roles the women played in the life of the congregation. I discovered that in these congregations the female members were affiliated with different generations. Mainly the founding generation, the 50 to 70 years old and
the 40 something years old. And I set forth, analyzed their stories to uncover the developments
in the status of women in these congregations. The status of women in
these two congregations may reflect the status of
women in the general reform and conservative movement in Israel. In addition to the active members those congregations that I
researched attracted women from the largest secular public due to their religious
services that they provided. By religious services I mean vowing that means the ceremonies, the conversion of courses,
the Jewish classes. From my talk I will be
incorporating quotes from both groups of women. This is a very good friend of mine. This is Bruria Barish and she represents the Beit Daniel Founding Women. The older women from this
graphing religious moves all of their families. They join they form congregation because they search for
sacrilege of tradition without being strictly observant. They wanted to provide their children with contemporary Jewish education and they also emphasize,
when I spoke with them, the importance of men and
women sleeping together and allowing the parents to sleep together with their children in a family setting. Most of the founders also
they spoke especially about the wish to do a (foreign language) to help the needy. As a motive to joining the
Beit Daniel reform movement. Bruria Barish, she is the president of Beit Daniel to those states. She was born in Romania in 1931 and grew up in Hassidic family. Officiant, she was
already living in Israel in the early days of the state and after those studies and on the walls she gradually stopped being observant and adopted more benevolent views. She immigrated to the US
where she met her husband and then they came back to Israel in 1963 and joined the Beit Daniel movement to provide her son with
a Jewish education. Therefore attended Friday night services as a family since he was two. Another reason for her
to join the congregation was her search for tradition. She said, “I realized I was missing “the framework, the sense
of belonging to a community, “to a congregation.” She now views Beit Daniel
as her extended family and she said, “Aside from
my own laughing family “I see the congregation as my family. “When I was sick and grieving
I was happy to discover “that the congregation to which I belong “loves me and cares for me.” Another reason for her ongoing activity is her desire to help others. She told me, “The answers I found “in people and social work
led me to be active in “the reform congregation.” In 1986 until 1991 she
was not only the president of the congregation
but a volunteering head of all of the reform movement in Israel. Also she was well known
for her public promotion of the reform movement. For her insistence to
be a full fledge member in the Tel Aviv religious council. The religious council
operates under the authority of the state and the chief rabbinate. They didn’t want to sit
with (foreign language) so they appeared to the court, together with the reform movement, a lot of times and as you can see there were newspapers that reported on her all along those years. Pertaining to her involvement
in the congregation like in men congregation
also in this congregation. Women volunteering in charity
work and preparing food. But Bruria and founding
members weren’t satisfied with the adjustment with the
female concept of religiosity. For them to take care of others, yeah even besides the congregation, out of the congregation
alliance with their families and a commitment to the Sudha Kumula Bruria, for example, she
told me a lot of times in those years before the first and the second lead further where she formed those summer camps for all of the Jewish youths. She’s really exceptional
in all of her involvement in those days before the reform movement. I would now want to speak about the key active female members who are aged between 50 to 70. Most of them are with a class and they have first academic degrees, immigrated to Israel from various places around the world and in different stages in the family life cycle. So they have many reasons
to join a congregation. I will speak mainly about
the joined congregation because of the family. (foreign language), she
was born in Israel 1948. She’s a history teacher and she joined the congregation with her husband. The reasons why she
joined the congregation is because her son turned bar mitzvah and she represented a tiny minority. A very small minority
of Israeli born women who have joined the congregations, live on congregations,
because their children have turned bar mitzvah. She said to me, “We came in
preparation for our son’s “bar mitzvah, something like 18 years ago. “My nephew has attended
bar mitzvah in Beit Daniel “celebration and setting, “entire family was sitting together. “I thought we should check it out “and we’ve been here ever since.” By the way, her daughter is also is a female rabbi in Beit Daniel. She sometimes officiates
in the bar mitzvah. (foreign language) is
also a very good example of active women who volunteered
with the congregation. Upon her retirement, she
founded a social framework for the local population where she teaches about history and Judaism. So you can see that their commitment to the (foreign language). It goes like from generation to generation they’re taking to the women who are active in the congregation. And for her and for the
other active members the social activity the (foreign language) the social action you can say. The (foreign language) to do, to take care of others it’s
their expression of Judaism. Also there are active women in their 40s and these women came to Beit Daniel for a very interesting forum. It was called the young forum for adults and students
designed to overcome a young Israeli this inclination to become involved in
their reform congregation and to forge close ties with each other and they made it a congregation even after they became parents and had children. Also when they were in this young forum they participated in a lot of protests on behalf of their reform movement or issues relating to state and religion. They joined the congregation
in their twenties and thirties and speak about Judaism that suits the needs of the
middle class secular women in the 21 century and like the reform to Judaism to the internet. They said, “We serve
whatever we want meaning “that there is no need to commit “to just one single congregation “and to one single expression,
to one form of Judaism.” Each of these women has
tried several different social and spiritual religious options before selecting their reform movement. You can say that their Judaism is a kind of Judaism that suits the needs of women who do not look for commitment. Now individuals today are committed to so many communities and educated women whose lives are mobile place greater emphasize on autonomy. The active women in Beit
Daniel who journeyed Israel at a time when they were 20 and 30 emphasize that those are
involvement in the Beit Daniel, is partial, it is meaningful to them. And they have a very
interesting definition of religious identity, their
reform secular identity, you can say. Some of them define themselves as secular women who are active in their reform congregation and to (foreign language) for example. She’s 45, divorced, who works in finances. She said about her Jewish identity, “I am secualar, there
is no religious aspect “to my daily life. “I view today’s Judaism “as a culture and have
a positive affiliation “with the traditions, with holidays, “with customs and rituals.” She sometimes go to the
prayers, to services, because she’s so secular in
the eyes of all her friends they tend to ask her,
“What are you looking for “in a congregation if you just pray “from time to time and you
said you are so secular?” And she told me like that,
“People don’t understand “why secular person attend synagogue. “Obviously I don’t go to prayer “because I’m searching
for a communication, “communicating with God. “I enjoy the experiences,
it lifts my spirit “to sing certain songs to a certain tune.” And she choose the reform
as an external label that would help others to understand what is her identity. To help others begin
to digest her identity. Although her own perception of her Jewish identity is much more complex. Women like her combine
secularity with reform Judaism in order to explain how
is it women can be happy and pray from time to time
in a reform congregation. The main, you can say,
motives to be active in a reform congregation
is their commitment to social justice. This one was one of the main motives to join Beit forum and to be identified as secular with your reform movement. The reason other women believes in social justice and
identify with those values is different identification
allows them to be identified also as a reform instead of just being secular. It means that Beit Daniel provides a lot of avenues and options for these women to express their values. Such as tolerance,
equality between genders or humans in general. They had not been exposed,
it’s very important that these women cannot be exposed to religious education before they came to Beit Daniel. So for them you can say, to be active in a (foreign language) in social justice is their way to express their Judaism and it reminds me a lot
from what I’ve read, in a (foreign language) that you would think about unaffiliated young Americans that sometimes said
Judaism for them is also doing volunteering, and
trying to change society. Now I would like to speak about the religious you
could say, consumers. They celebrated the bar mitzvah for their children in the Beit Daniel they came from the larger, middle, Tel Aviv is like the biggest city in central Israel. So they came from all around the Tel Aviv area. All said at the ceremony
in the reform synagogue I was impressed by the fact
that everyone sat together. Mothers could sit by their
sons, by their daughters, instead of hiding upstairs behind curtains or need to move the curtains. I have a son and I want
to celebrate with him. It’s nice to do it together, it’s fun. (foreign language) this
is a very interesting day. Having Beit Daniel you had to step up from generation to generation. From the grandparent, the grandmothers, to the parents, to the children also included their sisters, of course. So it’s very familial and
also (foreign language) her daughter had a bar
mitzvah in Beit Daniel a minority within this society. A minority of a young
daughters, of daughters who are turning 12 are having bar mitzvah like a religious kind of bar mitzvah. (foreign language) provided the following practical explanations for their choice to celebrate their daughter’s bar mitzvah in Beit Daniel. Months ago to read from
the Torah you need to find a synagogue, something
new is being introduced into tradition and
religion, they’re reforms. You can see above this is
a picture that was taken during ceremony in Beit Daniel and of course a mother
that tries to convey to her daughter the importance
of the gender equality Parents that choose to celebrate their child’s bar mitzvah in Beit Daniel are going through a preparatory,
a preparation course. And only a small
percentage of these mothers can celebrate a kind of
bar mitzvah on their own when they were young and it’s important to understand because it means that today’s preparation course is part due to the fact during this course for the first time in their life, they will be exposed to women. I know it’s very common in the US but in Israel you have never seen. That said pertaining to this issue. It felt good to not fit in
for the first time in my life. I was excited to be in
religious framework, to notice me for the first time and other frameworks that ignores me just because I’m a woman. It’s a tremendous contribution to the Jewish identity of girls. Advice that for mothers and daughters it’s very meaningful and exciting for the first time ever
to take an active part in the ritual that in the state of Islam is
considered (mumbling). Moreover the fact that a woman rabbi, you can see her, had this events. How to don’t fit in the
rabbi, the female rabbi. As the one mother at bar
mitzvah with their mothers. I would now want to speak
about a Rabbi Galia Sadan. As a religious and spiritual and congregation leader of Beit Daniel. She’s the associate rabbi
since, for the past 20 years. Ever since she was ordained by Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem. She’s runs the bar mitzvah program and also the conversion school. She’s officiating next
to Rabbi Meir Azari, and she’s the rabbi of 300 families. Sadan is now the (foreign language). I will say in English. She’s the chief justice of
the Israel reform movement of the conversion court. She’s said pertaining to gender and about her family’s
views the type of ties with the reform movement she said, “I would never have started my adventure “with the reform movement had it not been “a gender equal movement.” And she also said that
the gender of the rabbi is still very important in many cases especially when celebrating a bar mitzvah. This is the issue for the parents. Yeah, not just for the kids. And she said to me this context that there are parents who come from traditional backgrounds
that hold common views gender segregation and religious fear. They come to Beit Daniel
because they want to sit by the mother and the father wants to sit together with the child. But still they want a
man rabbi to officiate in the ceremony. So to them it’s extraordinary
even in considerable that a woman rabbi would
officiate in the ceremony. She said for them Galia Sadan
she’s like a come between. Okay, you can see. Yet she said she can’t
do what Rabbi Meir Azari he’s the Senior Rabbi of the congregation towards him and I will read it. “The more they see women rabbis, “the more they will want them. “It’s a personal matter. “Once they will get to know
you they will want you, “they will be happy with the way “you officiate at the ceremony, “they will start asking for you. “They won’t care about
what their grandpa says.” In Hebrew we say they won’t care what, not just the grandpa, the grandmothers and all the rest of the family we say. They will stick with the rabbi. And indeed there have been
many cases where families initially requested for man rabbi but after getting to know Galia agreed to have her officiate over their son’s bar mitzvah. And to conclude, my talk
was about the active members liberal movements in Israel versus women who just consume from time to time the religious services of the Beit Daniel congregation. The founding and other active
members in the congregations and it doesn’t matter if it is a reform or conservative congregation. They describe their Jewish identity using just one term
conservative or reform. In contrast the 40 something years old will use both terms combining them in very innovative ways to define their Jewish identity. This difference is an indication, maybe, of the generational gaps. Which means that for women
today they enjoy freedom. By forming their own Jewish identities that past generations didn’t have. Or they didn’t take for themselves. Religious reform and
conservative identities are loud and comprehensive thus Israel original congregation can contain different identities within themselves and the women of last generation. And of course, they
also offer to the women while active with them a lot of options to volunteer for the rest
of society (mumbling). My conversations with active women members in the congregations when visiting connect through Judaism
offer options to do. They’re (foreign language)
we say in Hebrew. They are drawn to these congregations as places combining a
commitment to social justice with (foreign language) mainly (mumbling). This is a very important part of the Jewish identity. Now inactive members of the female members of the congregation, the women who only came to mass or special occasions at Beit Daniel are religious consumers. They come to the congregation because it covers ceremonies that aligns with the secular life style. The experiences from
those life celebrations strengthens a positive
view of liberal Judaism. That they don’t say whether
they reform or conservative. I feel they choose to consume the specific religious service that brought them to this congregation that dominate the contact with their parent’s congregations. Because the religious and identity are related needs of most
secular Jews in Israel are most happy by living
in the Jewish state. Thank you very much. (clapping) – I’m Jonathan Sarna, the Director of Schusterman Center for Israel Studies. Really a pleasure to be here, to work with Lisa Joffe on this program and my job is to introduce
our next two speakers. Before I do I want to
just make two a small, I hope important, points
about the whole movement that we’re talking about. First of all this is really the first time that we have seen the
development in Judaism that involves simultaneously Israeli and the United States and
it’s not uni-directional. Moves in both directions,
each influences the other. That’s true with individuals, that’s true in terms of rituals, that’s true in terms of ideas. And we’ve not seen this before. So for example the movement
made a big difference in American Judaism it’s affect on Israel was almost new. In this case you really cannot understand unless you see Judaism economic movement involving both centers of Jewish life and interviewed with
religious that’s important. And second point I wanted to make is just because of where we are, we should not forget the role of the Brandeis University in
many of these developments. It serves as an educator
of agent of empowerment, as an incubator, as a funder, as a promoter of
Hadassah-Brandeis Institute of course is important
but I think that Brandeis broadly has served an important role and has for some years in terms of the whole role of women in Jewish life and it’s precisely for that reason that we thought about this program. We thought let’s take advantage of our two wonderful
scholarly guests from Israel but let’s also bring in the
American Brandeis dimension. So let me begin with a
very significant person on the Brandeis campus Rabbi
Stephanie Sanger-Miller. She’s the Assistant Director
of Hillel here at Brandeis. In her second year she was
ordained here in Boston at the Hebrew College Rabbinical School and to look at her bio is to understand the impact of Israel. From the conserevative
Hadassah-Brandeis Institute all are on, those are central Israeli institutions of the influence
of those institutions brought back to premise
as the many influences and the Shalom Hartman Institute will have an impact on Israel. Rabbi Stephanie Sanger-Miller has a career as a chef as well. She actually came at four
in the morning to be with us so thank you very much
and without further adue, Rabbi Stephanie Sanger-Miller. (clapping) – Make me sound like much more important than I normally am. First of all, thank you
so much for the wonderful Schusterman Center it is a delight and joy to learn with them and from you. And to continue my internal debate over whether or not we are all
part of the same project, or two entirely different projects. The United States and Israeli, you have these two
youngish headstrong nations trying to figure it out on our own. I think both cases we are getting there by two very different means. During my time in Israel I was struck by organizations where I worked. I find that all of these
wonderful organizations are creating space for women. In a way that feels both entirely new and unique but also sort of sits right at the heart of
what I joke is original Judaism which is secularism. You can call that a bad
joke if you want to. I was struck by these organizations and the fact that women
were frequently at the helm. I didn’t quite know what
to make of that until I looked at my own experience
in the United States. As a student at Hebrew college, a post denominational,
trans denominational, multi denominational. But being a part of this
movement of a non movement frequently helms by women. If you look at many of the pluralistic or non denominational spaces
in the United States. Women are at the forefront whether it’s Hebrew college itself whether
it’s across the country. Women seem to be once
again claiming spaces. It certainly is an interesting thing because on the one hand
it feels like Israel step inside in some ways
in the United States it feels like a step out. But in my case I keep flashing back to work in conduct, speaking about the way that women at some point were displaced from things needing to study and had nowhere to go. So this in one way or another whether we are staking out new territory or we’re taking back a little bit, there is something at work here. The language that I frequently hear around this work is one of authenticity. Which sometimes feels like a word that is almost meaningless. Authenticity means that
we are being people that we are the first
that we are the only, that we are unique. I’m not really sure of that aspect of it is the one that I find the most healthy. But as I was looking at the definition of authenticity or actually
what the word meant. There was a second definition below it that I had never seen
before in reference to sacred music and it was one that said the authentic is one that is somewhere between the highest
and lowest and relative to a note of above it. It is something that is always dynamic. Relative to a note, an octave above it. It is something that is always dynamic in relationship. I wonder if that’s actually the work that we are engaged in right now. One that’s frequently transmitted through Facebook. That is frequently experienced whether through speaking
to or going to Israel to study, students coming from Israel to the United States to study. Travel groups, all of these different experiences this level
of mobility and diversity we have never had before. I think that authenticity
that is constantly in relationship. Not relative in the sense
of greater or lesser, but one that is reaching
out that’s harmonizing is the one that I find deeply compelling. So, to hear from the two of you about the work that is
being done in Israel that is creating space for women. Whether stepping in or
taking your territory is such an asset to us as
we continue in our work, and again I am so grateful to learn from both of you. (clapping) – Finally last but not least
and then we hear from you, I wanted to tell a student perspective. Students play a very important role on this campus and I would say that female students over the years have played a tremendously important role in Jewish life. Over the course of my
many years at Brandeis. To speak of the fact
that for very long time we have trained people who went on to be pioneers, women and female
pioneers in America. Judaism goes all the back
to the 1960s and ’70s. So we’re delighted to
welcome Lily Schmidt-Swartz. She is a senior here at
Brandeis and she majors in our department. (mumbling) In the politics department
she minors in business. She’s had a sort of a
remarkable group of studies. She’s had a career both in
an Orthodox school for women in Los Angeles. She’s also worked in
lots of different areas. Pointing towards Lisa
Fishbayn who we have with us and thank you for your time. (clapping) – Thank you so much for
that amazing introduction. I’m very happy to be here and to speak with these amazing women. Obviously I’m not an
expert in Israeli feminism. Israel and Orthodox
Judaism but as an American Orthodox Jew I think I can
speak of the experiences of many Orthodox movement
and also just generally in the society. So a thing that I’ve noticed both in work and the things that I have picked up on is this theme of women
needing to stay within the framework of (foreign language), while also enacting change. From my own experience older women focus their energies on prayer
service in whatever form that is. That women have some sort
of Halathic authority and that there were
opportunities for women. So I have not really
observed much radical change it’s mostly something
that’s been happening in the framework. At the time I actually studied in Israel and during my time there I
learned (foreign language). Which are women that have
authority (mumbling). So at my time in Israel I spoke to all these different women
and they expressed to me that were going to have
this Halathic authority but the more that I thought
to myself I realized that meeting these rules that
are viewed in this very structured framework are
made out of some sort of compromise and they don’t necessarily have full authority but
they’re okay with that, and that’s very interesting. I find that very
interesting your work also something that you mentioned. This limited power of
women and also this need to also to appeal to the expert consensus. Also the large Orthodox
community when making these decisions. (mumbling) women need to
stick to the framework of appealing to the expert consensus and also by speaking to other Orthodox in the community and
also infusing a little God in their congregation. It’s very difficult. There’s a lot of structure, there’s a lot of things we need to follow and even the women compromising in the traditional system. I have observed controversy among American Orthodox Jews everywhere. About the various rules that women can take on (mumbling). From my experience it
seems very complicated to appeal to a community
that is so divided. People who don’t necessarily agree on what the women’s role is. So overall I feel a very deep sense of isolation in the Orthodox. That it’s not so easy to connect to other Jewish families for that matter. It is definitely a
struggle and I definitely believe that we as
orthodox we should stick together and figure out
ways to make things better. I have noticed challenges when
I have attempted (mumbling). One of the main challenges
that I observed was that because a lot of Orthodox
feminists are very focused on very specific
goals of figuring out ways (mumbling) to our paths of learning. It can be very difficult
to have conversations with feminists who almost seem radical. They have agendas (mumbling)
that they need to do. I often find myself just
trying to figure out ways. It’s difficult to identify
as an Orthodox Jewish at college I encounter
a lot of feminist groups who also identify with
other Orthodox groups. They regard Palestinians
as a very marginal group. It’s so closely entangled
in Israel and there’s a lot of assumptions being
made in those settings. So I can either choose not
to speak about the settings or I have to clarify that I’m a Jew. It’s very complicated and I don’t think there is necessarily a solution. I have a few thoughts that I would love to share with you guys. Thank you so much for having me. (clapping) (mumbling) – So this is your chance
you’ve heard plenty from us. Questions, comments. – [Woman In Audience] I
wonder, there was so little response to the survey
in Israel because it doesn’t matter to some so many people? – I think they are just
tired of answering the same questions over again. I mean for them it’s not new. For the student who made the survey I guess it’s very new, and
interesting and exciting but for them it’s like
okay, we’re feminist we’re Orthodox Jewish we just
don’t need to do surveys. We don’t need to answer those questions again and again and again. Usually the conversations on the Facebook in specific Facebook groups
are very rich and long. But this time I think they
were just a little tired. – [woman in audience]
So have there been other tabulations of other surveys then? (mumbling) – At the beginning of the group there were two surveys and then around
the both that I showed you. She also ask all the
questions and I think now they just don’t want to
educate anymore the fact that they’re religious and feminist. Also it was only for the
women and not the men. – Maybe the microphone can
go also to the audience. (mumbling) – [woman] Who had the question? (mumbling) – [woman in audience]
I’m an anthropologist, my question is for the anthropologists. This question is about ritual. You’re sort of looking
at do they believe or not and do they want to have
these bar mitzvah ceremonies. But I’m curious in the
domain of social action are you able to see
certain ways in which the Jewish context is structuring
a ritual understanding and a ritual practice
that has more meaning than they could find in other contacts? – Can you elaborate,
you mean, if I may ask? – [woman in audience] Is
it structured for temple? Are people you mentioned at one point you had written a dissertation. What I’m getting at is whether there’s structure in terms of the timing, the way they are constructed (mumbling)? (mumbling) Activity in a Jewish
context, in a congregational context is there support,
is there structure to it? Is there maybe certain
psalms or prayers that begin to give it structure, that
there’s a certain language a certain reference that goes through that’s all part of the ritual experience? Are they identifying
with belief and a certain kind of ritual Jewish
identity, but in other ways just look at the other
activities they’re incorporating and just their background
or their structure as part of this learning? – Okay I hope you don’t
use book and shared with us I think I can do without it if I may. You shared a lot of
very important insights and I will try to answer
all of your questions. First of all if we speak
about the prayer itself. (mumbling) From the building, from the architecture of the walls. On each wall above
there is like a sentence that sends a message to
the praying congregation. One of them is a (foreign
language) which means you need to be active
in the social justice. Now also the rabbis repeat
again and again in their sermons this message
that we need to be better human beings, we need to take care of the environment, we need
to take care of each other. We need to pay more attention to society. Not just our little families but the big states of society. It doesn’t happen just once it keeps going through all the sermons
through all the years. (mumbling) Also you can see among the population of the praying congregation, an example. What I mean is that (mumbling). Now sometimes they come
from not just the elite of the society but from a
more lower middle class. You can say that the active women and men of the congregation, they
treat themselves as equals. I will speak specifically
about Filipino women who went for a conversion
in their own congregation. They came to Israel to
pay for their workers. In Israel some of the
people are not to fond of foreign workers, especially to women. (mumbling) But those women met their Israeli husbands (mumbling) during the conversion
course which takes a year. (mumbling) The partnership between the Filipino women and the Israeli husbands full movement. You can see an expression
of a special kind of a social activism inside
the congregation itself. And also there is with in
the congregation, (mumbling) (mumbling) Now if you’re speaking, I’m
not sure if I understand, if you speak about the
language of the prayer itself, I’m not sure if this is the
direction that you spoke of. – [woman in audience]
I actually was thinking (mumbling) (audience commenting) – [Man] Let’s see if
there are other questions. (mumbling) – [Man] So I think what
you had in mind (mumbling). (mumbling) (mumbling) – You have to do one
three hours after sunrise, you have to do one by
the middle of the day, you have to do one before sunset, or between sunset and
you know, nine o’ clock. I think that’s what you had in mind. So we can talk about, you know, I don’t think that’s how (mumbling) exist, the interesting question
is could they exist to the extent which are very category defined as to exclude others. I mean, I think on this conversation, much of our category
of ritual is precisely there to be a contrast to what we think on as ethics, even though (mumbling). This is such an interesting (mumbling). And I just have to mention
(mumbling) has written a magnificent study of
(foreign language) history (mumbling) I really hoped and thank to all of you, and I’d love to hear more from our undergraduate panelists, as you said you have more things to say. – Can I just add one
thing you spoke about, you spoke about, well from my many years in the (mumbling) in the congregations, usually on the Friday night services, they don’t say the exact
three things you mentioned. And all the activities
like going to protest, about the relationship with
the state and the religion in Israel, they considered
it, the 40 something years old they considered it to be
part of their particular. – [Man] But the question
was, is it done differently because it’s being done religious act as opposed to just (mumbling). – Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s like the people, the people are a, are
trying to do those things in the framework of the congregation. They’re not doing like (mumbling). – [Man] Other questions? Let me throw out (mumbling) the proposition that within
Orthodox realm (mumbling) Israel has served an
enormously important role as a legitimate of activities by women. I am not sure that American Orthodox women would have done some of those things, but for the legitimation
provided by Israel. A few examples of that. For a long time, the
partnership (mumbling) were literally known as (foreign language) as if (foreign language)
gave it a (foreign language) and that allowed it to continue. Or another (mumbling) that had it for the (foreign language). And his role, he doesn’t
think (foreign language) which he founded, would
have enabled to do his job. So the existent of a great Israeli rabbi, who led his prestige, made it possible, it even made it possible for them to defend off some of the
American Orthodox rabbis who wouldn’t, let’s say, not as friendly as (foreign language) up to the enterprise. So to what extent, did
Israel serve as a legitimator and of course American
jury served as the funder over every one of the
groups we’ve talked about and institutions would
not exist but with a funding provided by the United States. So as we begin to think about
the role of the community, to what extent, just to start with those, Israel (mumbling), and
America provide the funding. – The underlying question that I have, is where did the priority of zion feels really secular in that, right? Like if the question is,
if x innovation happens, will I still be able to make (mumbling). If that’s part of the concern there, then Israel kind of has to be the one that gives legitimacy. You don’t need to worry about it if you’re coming in the other direction. So I feel like that’s, that’s
somehow alive in there, and I don’t know, I don’t know that it’s related to Orthodoxy. I think we sort of see that
cross denominationally. Where the innovation starts, kind of bounces back
and forth a little bit. But I feel like that’s
sort of the root cause that’s sort of underneath it. Funding piece is interesting as always. – We keep chivalrous a butt load of money. – There’s something at work there. I’m not sure what yet, I generally need the numbers to someone who is more skilled with them than I, but no, it’s, there is
something in that dynamic that is both alive and real, and I’m not sure it’s (mumbling). – Well I wonder if the funding
shapes our understanding of what the most important issues facing Israel feminists are. I think there’s a sense, particularly when you talked about the kind of (mumbling)
work that women who are involved in the reform movement do. And a lot of that is funded by, Israel Religious Action Center of the reform movement. That brings a lot of
the important litigation that looks at creating a secular state, that looks at pushing that sex
segregation in a public way, that looks at opening
up religious pluralism, particularly issues that
many people think about what the issues are. And in Israel they might
think of women of the wall and the struggle to be able to pray as they see fit at the (foreign language). But that’s a struggle
that’s funded by Americans, funded by the reform movement. And there’s attention
within Women of the Wall about strategy, because they serve both broader feminist
purposes and reform movement. – There are two women, the
original Women of the Wall and the other Women of the Wall, and they’re not the same and
they don’t have the same goals. – [Woman] I think it’s worth
saying that it didn’t start out as reform, and it wasn’t funded by reform. Women of the Wall started
as mostly Orthodox women who wanted to be able to
pray with a Torah scroll. On their side of the (foreign language). And basically the, I will just say it, movements have been
hijacked by reform movement, and retain the name Women of the Wall so that the original founders
have to now call themselves the original Women of the Wall. And it is true that the
current Women of the Wall is funded by the reform movement and is a tremendous propaganda tool of the reform movement, because it looks pretty horrible to have a woman who simply wants to pray being thrown into jail, which is what has happened more than once to the current leader (foreign language). But it’s not, it shows you the complexity. That’s what I would say, is that it goes back and forth. That institutions are important, but the reform movement is
not the only institution. (foreign language) a
movement of Israeli women, (foreign language) a
movement of Orthodox women in the United States. Many institutions, not just the funding by the reform movement. – Right, I think I said
American, not reform. But I want to say one
thing, additional point to (mumbling). I think, but then we have, let me just make one comment. – [Woman in Audience] Hi, so
I felt that it is (mumbling) also like the ideas in our mind of what has been the institution circulating, and all that question of authenticity, I’ve wondered how these
new forms of Judaism, or not new necessarily, but forms of Judaism that are seen as outside the reform, in terms of these (mumbling)
Orthodox versions. How did they (mumbling)? – Well let me just finish
what I was going to say. Which is, I think there
was a deliberate effort to say the women’s movement was reformed, in other words, it’s that confusion,
didn’t come from heaven, that confusion, some of it
came from Israeli (mumbling) but some of it was a deliberate
effort to make the reform and to taint them with
Israelic setting that way. What’s interesting,
and that’s what I think to be some of the importance
of (mumbling) work, is that it didn’t really work, that is, one needs to
understand for those who don’t, when you’re (foreign language) in Israel, it’s not compliment usually. And nevertheless, in spite of the effort to taint women’s
participation in orthodoxy as a (foreign language), you’re point is, (mumbling). And that’s a really interesting dynamic, and it’s interesting that
as Women of the Wall, have to cartel it was
hijacked to use that word. And it has something to do
with the very different role that the (foreign language)
plays in American Judaism, and in Israeli Judaism. In terms of it, I don’t
want to take this over. On authenticity, but in
(foreign language) book, on authenticity, just how
authentically Jewish (mumbling). – I wanted to say about
the authenticity of, that inside Orthodoxy, when you find some Orthodox (foreign language) source, it can be something historical
like (foreign language), and she was a rabbi and I forgot her name, like if you find some source, it can be (foreign language)
source or a historical source, you made it authentic again. So we redo it. We don’t just do something new. And then I want to say also, it’s not only funding that
comes from the United States, it’s also ideas and active women who came to Israel, who immigrated to Israel from the ’70s, as I mentioned (foreign language), and lots of others. And my students from (foreign language), who most of them were feminists and some Ango-Saxlon region. So, we have these ideas from an activists from United States and I think Israel brings back to the United States mostly the (foreign
language), the knowledge. (audience commenting) – Yeah, has talked about
authentic, authenticity and (mumbling). The people all the time they’re looking for authenticity, for just a feeling inside themselves and they’re doing the original thing. So I will speak a little
bit about (mumbling) congregations in the research, the rabbi try all the
time to make the people around get the feelings. So he use that you can
say new age religiosity, he use the guitar, and also singing all
the time and shunting, which are things that came
from the new age movement. And he tried to combine them
with conservative prayers and it really worked. People were fascinated. When he was in the congregation, rabbi (foreign language)
now in California, when he was there, a lot of people came to young families and the students, and they really liked this combination which caused it to feel authentic. Now, those days all along
the reform movement, you can hear more and more people who are singing (foreign language) and who are studying
the (foreign language) inside the reform synagogue. They have those classes, how to find yourself inside
the (foreign language) the weekly portion of the Torah in a (foreign language) manner, and they even, those days,
they tried to do an ensemble a literal group of women
who would be taught to sing (foreign language). A kind of a spiritual
(foreign language) yeah, of authenticity among both conservative and reform congregations. And they tried to combine it into the rituals that like the very, the very
founding members could digest. You know, because there is
like a heterogeneous population inside the congregation, and the prayers are not
just for the young adults, they are for everybody. For the old, for the
middle-aged, for the young, so everything is done like gradually. – [Woman in Audience] Hi I have a question specifically for Lily. Hi Lily, so something that
you said when you were talking that really resinated with me is the idea of being like a good
Jew in feminist places. I mean, I’m not Orthodox, I’m secular, but I run into that all the time in secular feminist places, like feeling like I need
to address the conflict in order to be authentic, so first of all, I just want
to say I really applaud you for bringing that up here, and for talking in front of
your peers about issues that are happening around you. So could you say more
about your experience with having to be a good
Jew in feminist places. – Yeah sure, often times in these places, Israel is mentioned and
it’s uncomfortable for me when there’s a lot of talk about white Jews being oppressors almost in that same context of
that Israeli conflict, and I never really know
what to say because I’m not sure if I necessarily
relate to these students who have a totally different idea of what is going on in Israel than I do, but I think, the mature thing to do, and I think what I do, not
necessarily the mature thing, because sometimes I
just choose not to speak because I’m too uncomfortable, but I think what we should try to do as students and as a community, is to speak about our
complex histories as Jews. That we’re not necessarily all white, that we’re not necessarily all (mumbling). And there’s a lot of complexity
and diversity among Jews, and we can relate to these
other groups of people if we’re just willing to
have these bold conversations with one another. And I wish I was brave enough to do that, and I think that these are conversations that we need to have, yeah. – I wonder if I could just add,
thank you for sharing that. I think that’s an
important strategy as well, both locally and nationally to have those kinds of
brave conversations. I’m just inspired by that, I wonder if I could ask,
that other panelists, and maybe you could end with this, to what extent are Jewish feminists and religious feminists that you study, engaged in the broader movement, and what kind of challenges do they see in engaging with whatever
feminism (mumbling)? – What I can think of is around sexual harassment and of course they combine, in Israel I know (mumbling), so they combine forces around
sexual arrests, harassment and in Israel that issue
is also secular (mumbling). I don’t know if its like,
international feminism, yes? But it is helping domestic
violence, sexual harassments, and the marriage and divorce
in Israel (mumbling). I think they combine forces. – The reform movement from what I know, also I should have said
that there is a difference between the official
leadership and the women, like the women in the congregation hold so many different (mumbling), that sometimes for completely
different (mumbling), okay. It has to be said. The women themselves, yeah, of course, some of them are feminists,
some of them are active in the general feminist circles, some of them of course also are active in the (mumbling). It happens that to one of the participants in (foreign language), who was the former CO of
the Women of the Wall, and she was also involved
in (foreign language), the women’s lobby and also she, in the first phases of
her (foreign language) she also shared a lot of ideas and activities with (foreign language) so you can see, like the combinations between a sometimes modern
Orthodoxy and a reformed Judaism or a (foreign language)
and a, what can I say? There are of course a action center, yeah, (foreign language), and they are involved in a other issues pertaining to feminism. They try to help as they
can for the lawyers, and the women themselves
in the congregations, hold so many different ideas about what feminism is. It sometimes is different from the, from the (mumbling). And sometimes the (mumbling) publicity in the news, and I pray somehow to
show also their voices. (mumbling) – It’s funny, I have Israeli citizenship. And when I was living there, I somehow got in touch with
this couple from Boston who wanted me to marry them
on the beach in Israel. And I though, oh my
documentation feels awfully new and this feels awfully risky. In the US, a female
rabbi is at this point, is boring almost. I am not remarkable because
I’m a woman in a rabbinate, in a more level circle certainly. It feels like women taking on religious leadership roles and the levels of risk
that they are taking on, particularly in Israel, and even here to a point I
think we’re just used to it. It’s actually part of that
broader feminist project to put yourself at risk of physical harm at the complicated messy
Women of the Wall protest. I was there for one of those by mistake, it was not a fun moment. To be on the beach sort
of looking around for a cop that would somehow figure out that I was doing a wedding in Israel. Don’t know how that would happen, but I was nervous about it. I think just the idea of
being a religious leader a women who cares about Judaism and who is studying it, it’s kind of in and of itself. The work of feminism. It’s both exciting and scary (mumbling). – That’s a great place to end. An exciting and scary project (mumbling). (mumbling) – [Woman] Please join in
thanking our panelists. (clapping) (chairs moving)

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