We at JOFA are deeply disappointed by the recent comments of Israeli Knesset candidate Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan, former head of the Jerusalem rabbinical court, who claims that there is no real problem of agunot, but merely a problem caused by "women's groups" that are trying to unfairly besmirch the Rabbinical Court with supposedly fabricated claims of gett refusal. These statements may serve Rabbi Dahan well in his bid for a Knesset seat, but they reflect a short-sighted and misogynistic view of women's real lives.
By Dr. Ruti Feuchtwanger
“The sword without, and terror within” (Deut. 32:25)
On November 18, the fifth day of Operation "Pillar of Cloud”, the body of a fifty-year-old woman was found dead in her home in Ofakim. The police suspect that she was killed by her spouse. Many people have never heard of this story – even an internet search comes up with very few results, all with few details, (like this one http://www.mako.co.il/news-law/crime/Article-7749585b2331b31004.htm&Partner=rss) and not a single news item in English.
It is hard not to compare the coverage of this death with the coverage of the...
Nearly every month, it seems, there is troubling news relating to the status of women in Israel. Late last year it was women forced to sit at the back of public buses, and then Haredim attacking schoolgirls in Beit Shemesh for being insufficiently modest. In October the leader of Women of the Wall was arrested and...
By Elana Sztokman
Since 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.
NYC, 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.
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...
By JOFA Staff
JOFA 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...
By Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld
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]
Rachel (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...
By 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...