About JOFA UK
Founded in 1997 in the United States, JOFA’s international membership of 5,500 counts scholars, leaders, activists, and philanthropic grantors in the Jewish and feminist worlds.
JOFA is now extending its work to the UK. This follows the comprehensive Jewish Leadership Council’s report (July 2012) 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 22 March 2012. Numerous women raised the issue of their lack of participation in Orthodox ritual life and expressed a strong desire to engage in this area.
One of the factors for this marginalisation identified by the JLC ‘s report is lack of in-depth knowledge of Jewish law in relation to women’s roles within the Jewish community. It appears that despite the growing opportunities for women to engage in general Torah study there is not enough focus on halachic issues relating to the role of women in leadership positions and ritual involvement.
JOFA will seek to address this problem by supporting and facilitating educational programmes for women and men focusing on Women and Jewish Law, encouraging greater participation of women in leadership positions and ritual life and creating a community of like-minded individuals committed to the values of Orthodox Judaism and Feminism.
The mission of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance is to expand the spiritual, ritual, intellectual and political opportunities for women within the framework of halacha. We advocate meaningful participation and equality for women in family life, synagogues, houses of learning and Jewish communal organizations to the full extent possible within halacha. Our commitment is rooted in the belief that fulfilling this mission will enrich and uplift individual and communal life for all Jews.
A MESSAGE FROM DINA BRAWER, JOFA’S UK AMBASSADOR
The second decade of the 21st century finds women highly educated and occupying a wide range of influential leadership positions in the secular world. Yet when it comes to involvement in Jewish ritual and Jewish communal leadership their opportunities are considerably limited. This gap between a woman's secular and religious worlds creates frustration sometimes leading to disengagement from the latter. My goal in representing JOFA in the UK is to try and narrow this gap by shaping public discourse around this important issue and developing effective tools to positively change this reality.
JOFA in the UK aims to be a horizontal organisation achieving change through empowering individuals at grass-root level. So if you are passionate about these issues I invite you to get in touch and get involved. Our organisation is only as strong as the people who get involved in it.
I look forward to meeting you, sharing ideas and together with other like-minded individuals, to gradually increase opportunities for women's engagement in Jewish ritual and communal life.
Much of women’s engagement in Jewish Ritual is due to varying interpretations of Halacha.
JOFA’s Ta Shma study guides present an in-depth look at halachic topics that affect a woman’s obligation and involvement in Jewish ritual life. Ta Shma presents original Halachic sources in English and Hebrew and guides through the Halachic issues in an accessible way.
JOFA study groups aim to increase awareness of relevant halakhic issues among women and men so that women can make deliberate choices rather than passive ones about their observance. By cultivating an understanding of the different views that exist within the halachic system, we want to enable Jews who are committed to halacha to become more intellectually involved in their practice of mitzvot. We hope that studying the Ta Shma guides will invigorate individuals, as well as the larger community, to a more thoughtful and committed observance.
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