Elana Sztokman is one of the most proactive Jewish feminist thinkers on the scene today. An award-winning author of three books on gender equality in the Jewish world, a PhD in sociology and a former executive director of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Association (JOFA), Dr. Sztokman seeks the edge. This past spring, she inaugurated a course, Dynamics of Jewish Feminism, via webinar for a worldwide reach. Judith Plaskow, Rachel Adler, Blu Greenberg and Letty Pogrebin were among the more than 30 distinguished panelists over the course of 8 weeks. Energized by the response,Szotkman has now embarked on a second course, DESIRE: Sex, Judaism and Feminism. Susan Reimer-Torn interviews her for the Sisterhood.
In October 1977, Barbra Streisand asked, “What’s a nice Jewish girl like me doing on the cover of Playboy?” Now with Jewish two-time Olympic medalist Aly Raisman posing naked for ESPN The Magazine’s Annual “Body Issue,” we’re asking a similar question. “It sounds like a Jewish mother’s nightmare,” writes JTA’s Andrew Tobin about Raisman’s photo shoot, “But Playboy, it’s not.”
It was the end-of-year party at my daughter’s religious preschool in the Israeli city of Modi’in, where we live. Raising cardboard Torahs aloft, around 15 children jumped up and down beneath a tallit held up by some of the dads. In a mixed-gender class of 35, not one of those children was female.
Last year I discovered that my rabbi, Barry Freundel, filmed me naked while I was in the mikveh bathroom preparing to convert (during a “practice dunk”) and while converting to Judaism. After outrage and sorrow, I felt fear. Fear for the integrity of my conversion with his name at the top of my documents.
Martina Ragacova had never planned to become the symbol of a growing uprising against Israel’s draconian conversion laws. All this Czech-born woman wanted was to have her conversion recognized so that she could live and work in Israel like any other Jew.