Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance

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JOFA's logo, evoking the waters of Miriam's well

The Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA) was founded in 1997 with the aim of "expand[ing] the spiritual, ritual, intellectual, and political opportunities for women with the framework of halakha," or Jewish law. [1]

History and mission[edit]

According to its website, JOFA's mission is to advocate the "meaningful participation" of women, to the fullest extent possible with the framework of halakha, in family life, synagogues, houses of learning, and within the Jewish community in general.

JOFA was founded in 1997 after the first International Conference on Feminism and Orthodoxy, organized by Jewish-American writer Blu Greenberg. The organization has grown from a small group who met at Greenberg's kitchen table to become a professionally staffed, international alliance, active in North America, Israel, and England. [2]

Robin Bodner was the Executive Director of the organization for over a decade. She retired in early 2012, and shortly thereafter Dr. Elana Maryles Sztokman became Executive Director. Sztokman is credited with significantly raising JOFA's public profile, reaching out to young Orthodox feminists, connecting with social activists around the United States and around the world, launching JOFA UK with JOFA UK Ambassador Dina Brawer, and re-crafting the JOFA message around sophisticated feminist thought.

In January 2014, JOFA announced that Sztokman would be leaving the organization. JOFA currently has no Executive Director. [1]

Halakhic Publications[edit]

JOFA has published numerous halakhic guides as a part of the Ta Shma series, educating the public about topics related to women's involvement in Orthodox Jewish ritual. Topics include:

Educational Initiatives[edit]

Project Esther: Megillat Esther App[edit]

JOFA's interactive app allows women and men to learn the cantillations for reading Megillat Esther. The app can be downloaded to your smart phone or tablet or can be used on the web with Chrome or Safari browsers. The user can practice by following along with the megillah text, while they listen to the layner. An easy to use navigation system allows the user to replay desired sections, both with and without the cantillation marks appearing on the screen. The app also includes instructions on how to organize a megillah reading, a halakhic discussion of the sources for women's reading of the megillah, a dvar Torah about the Book of Esther and more.[2]

Women Scholars Sukkot Poster[edit]

In 2014, JOFA launched an initiative to sponsor artwork for the creation of an educational poster featuring notable female Jewish scholars, to be used to decorate sukkot.[3][4]

See also[edit]

External Links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Adler, Rachel. "Feminist Judaism: Past and Future", Crosscurrents, Winter 2002, Vol. 51, No 4.
  • Gorsetman, Chaya Rosenfeld and Elana Maryles Sztokman, Educating in the Divine Image: Gender Issues in Orthodox Jewish Day Schools. Brandeis University Press, 2013
  • Greenberg, Blu. (1981) On Women and Judaism: A View from Tradition. Jewish Publication Society of America. ISBN 0-8276-0226-X
  • Greenberg, Blu. "Will There Be Orthodox Women Rabbis?". Judaism 33.1 (Winter 1984): 23-33.
  • Greenberg, Blu. "Is Now the Time for Orthodox Women Rabbis?". Moment Dec. 1992: 50-53, 74.
  • Nussbaum Cohen, Debra. "The women’s movement, Jewish identity and the story of a religion transformed," TheJewishWeek.com, June 17, 2004
  • Ross, Tamar. Expanding the Palace of Torah: Orthodoxy and Feminism. Brandeis University Press, 2004.
  • Sztokman, Elana Maryles, The Men's Section: Orthodox Jewish Men in an Egalitarian World. Hadassah Brandeis Institute, UPNE, 2011
  • Wolowelsky, Joel B. "Feminism and Orthodox Judaism", Judaism, 188, 47:4, 1998, 499-507.

References[edit]