To meet April Baskin is to see the change in American Jewry personified. A tall, confident, 32-year-old with an impressive mane of curly hair and a wide smile, the self-described “multiracial Jewish woman of color” is the newest executive in the Reform Jewry movement.
To the strains of Madonna’s “Vogue”, the 13 women with a combined age of about 1,050 strutted down the runway cautiously, hindered only slightly by walking sticks and the odd dodgy hip.
The so-called “Kate Middleton effect” — by which anything the Duchess of Cambridge wears becomes an instant best-seller — seems to know no bounds.
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