The Impact of Jewish Feminism on the Development and Expression of Judaism

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  • Topic: Judaism, Halakha, Conservative Judaism
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  • Published : March 19, 2012
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Religion Essay:

Analyse the impact of JEWISH FEMINISM on the development and expression of Judaism. In your answer refer to the various forms of Judaism.

Jewish feminism has had a significant impact on the development and expression of Judaism. They have faced many obstacles and brought about much change in the Jewish tradition. Jewish feminism is a movement that seeks to improve the religious, legal and social role and contribution of women within Judaism. Feminism can be traced back to the early 1970s where women began to question their roles amongst society. For Jewish women, they wanted to focus on the composition of the minyan, the exemption from some mitzvot, exclusion of women as witnesses of Jewish law and the position of women in relation to divorce proceedings. Each variant has responded differently to feminism and the level of impact as differed amongst Reform, Conservative and Orthodox Jews.

Judaism is known for being more patriarchal than many other organised religions. This has made it difficult for Jewish feminists to bring about equity and Tzedakah. Jewish feminists have one main agenda and that is to challenge and fight sexism within Judaism. They see their work as part of their duty to tikkun olam and believe their actions bring Tzedakah to their faith community. Jewish feminism created much controversy as many men thought that it would have a weakening effect on Jewish life, however many would argue that it has been strengthened. Jewish conservative women were amongst the first feminists to challenge the traditional expression of Judaism. For example, in 1972, ten new york feminists, took the issue of equality for women to the convention of the conservative movement's rabbinical assembly, presenting a document, “Call For Change” which demanded that women be accepted as witnesses before jewish law, be considered as bound to perform all mitzvot, be allowed full participation in religious observances, have equal rights in marriage and be...
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