Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Life

Why Judaism Needs Feminism

This is the fifteenth entry in an ongoing series exploring Jewish feminism.

I’m a Jewish feminist for a lot of reasons.

On the one hand, given that feminism is about removing external hindrances to the project of everyone living out their highest, holiest, Divinely-given potential —why wouldn’t I be? There’s still plenty of homophobia, transphobia and sexism in Jewish law, rituals, communities and institutional structures. As such, we still have a lot of work to do to create textual activism, forceful new interpretations, transformative moments, and straight-up institutional change in contemporary Jewish life.

But more than that, I’m a Jewish feminist because I believe that Judaism and feminism absolutely require one another.

As a feminist, my work is nourished by my spiritual practice, and enables me to draw from a Source much deeper and more powerful than my limited self. As a Jew — well, quite naturally, Judaism is enriched by the extraordinary range of perspectives and voices that feminism adds to the ongoing project of receiving the Torah anew. Without them, our religion will wither and die; with them, it can continue to grow and expand, enabling us all to become more moral, more kind, more connected to the sacred, and better able to serve God.

Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg is author of “Surprised By God: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Religion” (nominated for the Sami Rohr prize), editor of five anthologies, including “The Passionate Torah: Sex and Judaism” and “Yentl’s Revenge: The Next Wave of Jewish Feminism,” and is the senior Jewish educator at Tufts Hillel.

Engage

  • Events

    Haart to Haart

    Virtual

    Dec 7, 2022

    7 pm ET · 

    A conversation with Julia Haart and her son Shlomo, stars of Netflix's 'My Unorthodox Life,' about the new season and much more.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.