Israeli Feminism

By Greniman, Deborah | Tikkun, September/October 1999 | Go to article overview

Israeli Feminism


Greniman, Deborah, Tikkun


The Impact of Women's and Gender Studies on Jewish Studies

In Israel, where the rabbinate together with the army give patriarchy a stranglehold on civil society, the potential impact of the feminist study of Judaism is of far more than personal significance. Nevertheless, it is only recently that the isolated efforts of a few scholars working in different institutions have begun coming together to form a vibrant and distinctive Israeli branch of feminist Jewish women's studies, bringing a breath of fresh air and activism to a field dominated by conservative Judaic studies faculties and yeshivas. This in itself is one of the most important messages to emanate from the conference on "The Impact of Women's and Gender Studies on Jewish Studies" held in Jerusalem in June 1999.

Another extra-textual message to emanate from the conference was the possibility, in a feminist context, for multi-leveled dialogue of a kind that cannot be taken for granted in present-- day Israel, or even in the Jewish world. This was emphasized by the cooperative sponsorship of the conference by the Schechter Institute, which is associated with the Israeli Masorti (Conservative) movement, and the Fanya Gottesfeld Heller Center for the Study of Women in Judaism at Bar-Ilan, Israel's national-religious university. Also taking an equal part in the discussion of Judaism's sacred texts were a number of Israeli-born, non-religiously-identified women scholars, including talmudists Tal Ilan and Shulamit Valler, who cordially shared a panel with Orthodox scholar Chana Safrai and Conservative scholars David Golinkin and Judith Hauptman.

Running through all these levels of interaction was the intellectual trialogue between Israeli feminist Jewish scholarship, its American older sister (represented by several visiting scholars), and the theoretical tools and ideologies generated by feminist and gender studies-and, more broadly, by postmodern schools of historical and cultural/anthropological inquiry and literary critique. This interplay was highlighted in the session on Bible studies, as panelists debated whether the feminist interpretation of the Bible should be viewed entirely as derash, the infusion of new meanings into old texts, or whether it can also yield peshat, a new understanding of the original meaning(s). Speaking in an Israeli context that has emphasized historicism, Ilana Pardes argued passionately that feminist interpretations hold their own with other modes of critical Bible scholarship in yielding "sparks from the past"-new versions of a peshat which, as midrashist Galit Hasan-Rokem remarked, can no longer be viewed as monolithic.

The session on rabbinic literature crackled with the excitement of women-including secular women-- seeking to break the hegemony of the rabbinate by asserting their own expertise, using the academic setting as an alternative path to the yeshiva. According to panelist Chana Safrai, the unprecedented numbers of women now studying rabbinic literature on an advanced level are already creating the "base of the pyramid" upon which women experts can rise to the peak. For this revolution to succeed, however, the yeshiva model of learning must make room for alternative, more focused, and time-efficient models, suitable to women's life paths. Judith Hauptman and Tal Ilan debated Rabbi Eliezer's assertion that "one who teaches his daughter Torah is teaching her tiflut [obscenity according to Hauptman, triviality according to Ilan]," often used as an argument for denying Jewish learning to women. Their learned disagreement about the meaning of tiflut showed how feminist scholarly critique not only yields a more profound understanding of the text, but can also defuse or redefine the text's normative implications for Jewish practice. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Israeli Feminism
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.