Feminism & Judaism

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By KM on March 9, 2010 -- 12:06pm

I was enjoying this lecture until the rebbetzin got to the part about women increasingly having too much time on their hands giving rise to feminism. If you study any recent history (middle ages forward), there are loads of examples of women who felt unfulfilled in the traditional role of wife and mother who simply had no other options. These women also lived in their own houses (not in apartments) for a very long time.

By E on March 11, 2010 -- 10:59pm

While I think that the industrial revolution (and its application on the domestic front) was definitely a contributing factor, most historians attribute the rise of the feminist movement, specifically the second wave, to the empowering of the women during WWII, ala Rosie the Riveter, and their subsequent fall from grace as a result of war veterans returning to their jobs and women once again being sent back to their homes….

KM is right in saying that there have always been women who felt unfulfilled in their predetermined roles.  The main point to emphasize, however, is that a Jewish women has NEVER been typecast into one specific identity.  Since the inception of Judaism, starting with Sarah, Jewish women have done everything that a man has done.  It is one of the most misunderstood aspects of Judaism, but the truth is that the Torah affords as many options to women as it does to men.  The misogynistic frustration that women the world over have felt, never hit the traditional Jewish woman until perhaps the sixties.  And even at that point, any woman who was familiar with the teachings of our elders (both men and women) understood the movement to be relevant for the masses, but completely redundant for the Jewish woman.

By Diana on August 1, 2011 -- 9:25am

I am a Sociology minor, with a focus on women’s studies and families in American soceity.  I find it most interesting that for Jewish women, the concept of being relegated into one role has traditionally not been an issue.  We did not cover that aspect in our studies.  I want to know more about this!!

In my personal life, I have been blessed with many dynamic women to look up to and exemplify who, while they stayed home with their children for a time, this did not define them.  My Grandmother and her sisters were all college educated.  My grandmother had a college degree by the age of 19, spoke French and English, traveled the world, was a part of the WAC (and did intelligence in the Army as well) she played professional violin, and was a journalist. Her sister as a widow with 4 small children used her business degree to take over her recently deceased husband’s business.  She raised her 4 children and turned that business into a major corporation.

These are the examples I have of what it means to be a woman…And I am so happy and better off for it!!  More young women today would have a much fuller understanding of what it means to be “Woman” if they were surrounded by more women like my Grandmother and more women like Jewish women such as “E” mentions!

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