For years, we have covered the often contentious story of Orthodox feminism as a lens into the tension between modernity and tradition in religious life. We reported on women’s tefillah groups as they took root, and then gave way in popularity to partnership minyanim that include both men and women leading parts of the Shabbat service.
We have explored the agunah crisis — women who remain chained to their husbands in joyless marriages — and the struggle to encourage rabbis to find halachic ways to alleviate the suffering.
In recent years, we have traced the dramatic increase in women studying and teaching Jewish texts on the highest of levels, and the development of women taking on roles of the clergy (by whatever title they are given). The Orthodox mainstream has praised the educational benefits of advanced study while resisting the move toward women rabbis.
With the Orthodox Union’s recent statement on these issues, and the response from many fronts, it is clear that the struggle — one in which the tensions, gains and setbacks of the wider women’s movement play out in religious circles — is a story that underscores vital issues regarding women’s roles in our society.
So we are pleased to provide a home for the coverage of these issues on our Jewish Week website through a lively blog created and produced by the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA), the central platform for Orthodox feminists. The blog can be found by clicking on the “JOFA Blog” tab on the bar under The Jewish Week logo on our homepage: thejewishweek.com (The tab also features a new Opinion tab for a wide range of essays, more than we have room for in print.)
Launched on our site two weeks ago, the JOFA blog has published several responses to the OU’s new policy statement effectively banning women from the Orthodox rabbinate. As conversations in Washington heat up about women’s reproductive rights, a blog post described one Orthodox mother’s positive experience with Planned Parenthood. The blog has featured posts about breastfeeding in synagogue, the difficulties of navigating Orthodox life as a single woman, and how one woman brought the taste of Tu b’Shvat to a maximum-security women’s prison.
Whatever your point of view on Orthodox feminism, the movement gives voice to some of the most thoughtful perspectives in describing struggles in Jewish life. We are proud that this voice and that struggle have a home with us.
Visit the blog here.