Seven. That is how many times Mayim Bialik referred to Jenna Jameson as a porn star instead of an adult film star.
Recent debates about women and the Orthodox rabbinate yielded a range of interesting, impassioned and also banal observations by various Jewish professionals and laypeople. Although sociological and legal arguments abound, a broader philosophical discussion of the nature of gender roles within Judaism is lacking. The assumption in these debates seems to be that the challenge before us is how this issue in Judaism will play out alongside a movement from inequality to equality, from backwardness to progress, in American or Western society. Those who resist this movement and believe that a straightforward march toward gender egalitarianism is neither desirable nor in the spirit of traditional Judaism have yet to articulate what, precisely, a theory of Jewish gender difference could, and should, look like. That is, with the exception of a small coterie of mystically inclined haredi, or ultra-Orthodox, women based in Israel who have been exploring precisely this question for years
That naked bodies existed in the mid-18th century goes without saying. In a world where even Vogue finds its way to discussing tznius, the biblically-inspired modesty that has tended to be applied overwhelmingly to women’s attire, however, some may be surprised to learn that naked female bodies surface in illustrations adorning margins of religious Jewish documents.
The first thing that Abby Stein wants the world to know is that she did not leave her ultra-Orthodox community solely to become a woman. Since she came out this past August, Stein has been garnering attention as the transgender ex-Hasid. Although she acknowledges that the two events in her life are “intertwined,” she says her initial leave taking from her Hasidic sect “had to do with beliefs. I was done with Judaism, and for over a year, I had nothing to do with it.”
Parshat Vayetsei, this week’s Torah portion, provides vivid vignettes of pastoral patriarchy. People congregate around the village well, sharing stories while watering their flocks. Jacob arrives in Haran, the land of his mother, and heads directly to the well. This is where he famously meets his cousin Rachel, and is smitten.