Archive for 'Judaism and Feminism'

In Praise of Naomi Ragan: An Israeli and Orthodox Rosa Parks

This story is somewhat dated, but most of the readers probably are unaware of what actually took place in Israel regarding a brave and outspoken Modern Orthodox feminist and famous authoress who dared to stand up to an ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) juggernaut in a bus heading toward Israel.

In American history, every citizen knows how Rosa Parks made history on Dec. 1, 1955. This brave woman got arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a municipal bus to ...

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Freedom “of” Religion or Freedom “from” Religion?

The year: 2010.

Haredi rabbis demand separate buses to ensure the separation of the sexes.  Beyond that, they are now insisting on separate times for men and women whenever they go shopping at the local supermarket. Once again the politicians look the other way rather than deal with the real problem– the ubiquitous threat of religious coercion.

Any gentile or liberal Jew reading this news might smirk: Are they afraid shopping along the aisles or sitting in a bus might lead to ...

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“Lady Wisdom–the Firstborn Daughter of Creation”

Sometime during the fifth or fourth century B.C.E., the Wisdom/Sophia tradition began to infiltrate Jewish religious sensibilities. At first it was introduced as a series of epigrams containing proverbial wisdom; however, in theological terms, the notion of Sophia came to personify God’s own wisdom. Over the centuries, this new concept influenced generations of Jewish thinkers and mystics—especially during the medieval period when Jewish thought renewed its historic love affair with Greek wisdom. Abraham Ibn Ezra (c. 1089–1164) asserts that the ...

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How many people really constitute a minyan–and why?

The custom of the minyan is only rabbinic in origin. When examining the minyan’s origins, it is vital we remember that this custom is not something that is etched in stone. However, as a custom, it does have a rich and variegated history that cannot be reduced to a single point of view–nor should it be.

The origin of the minyan is discussed in the Talmud. Some expositions are much more oblique than others  [1], while other suppositions are by ...

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Jacob’s Complicated Love Life and its Halachic implications

Inevitably, the story about Jacob and his complicated love life raises a number of questions regarding the Jewish attitude concerning concubines and polygamy. Do Jews still practice polygamy? Outside Sephardic circles, polygamy has been banned for well over a thousand years, since the time Rabbanu Gershom outlawed it for Ashkenazic Jews.

Historically, there is no evidence of actual concubinage in the Talmud, nor is there any evidence of it in practice during the Middle Ages. In the responsa of Asher b. ...

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