Gender & Feminism 101

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Today, questions regarding women and the possibility of increased inclusion in Jewish life continue to be debated and discussed in responsa literature (written rabbinic answers to specific legal questions).

Jewish Feminist Thought

Jewish feminists are critical of the exclusion of women from traditional Judaism's most hallowed rituals and practices. But this practical critique is rooted in a conceptual critique founded upon the belief that the values, experiences, and characteristics which Judaism privileges are fundamentally male. Thus, for example, that the normative descriptive imagery and pronouns for God are male suggests that--in Judaism--male characteristics are of supreme value.  In a way, this conceptual critique is much more significant than the practical critique, because it calls for systematic changes in the way we think, not just in what we do.

Feminist theologians differ on the extent to which they think Judaism needs to be adjusted in order to correct this problem. But for some Jewish feminists, the privileging of male-ness is so imbedded in the structure of Judaism, that nothing less than a revolutionary re-creation of Judaism can suffice.

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