Ms. Magazine’s rejection of an ad celebrating three Israeli women leaders has prompted Jewish feminists here to charge that the magazine has adopted an anti-Israel posture.
“This is a feminism that has been utterly Palestinianized,” said Phyllis Chesler, one of five Jewish feminists who lashed out at the magazine this week.
Jerusalem — Calling it a “breakthrough for political life in Israel,” Communications Minister Limor Livnat last week hailed the election of the first woman as mayor of a major Israeli city and vowed: “This is only the beginning.”
Orthodox feminism, barely a quarter-century old and facing withering criticism, has nevertheless transformed and energized Modern Orthodoxy, according to a study believed to be the first examination of the impact of the nascent movement.
Has there ever been a more reluctant, gentle revolutionary than Blu Greenberg? For 30 years she has personified Orthodox feminism, and perhaps it is her very reluctance, her very tenderness to the tradition that has eased Orthodox minds and made possible Orthodox feminismís ìvelvet revolution,î to use Vaclav Havelís phrase.
In December 1997, two women were hired as ìcongregational internsî by two Orthodox synagogues with the job description of preaching sermons, doing chaplaincy and counseling congregants. Feminist leaders cheered that this was the first time women were hired to do all these jobs as part of an Orthodox synagogueís spiritual staff.
The national media also took notice. Could Orthodox women rabbis be far off?
A Modern Orthodox shul in New York City: Men in the main sanctuary are sitting around doing nothing. It’s Simchat Torah but there is dead air, no singing, no dancing, no prayer. It’s well after 2 p.m. and the men wait 20, 30, 45 minutes for services to resume. Oh, there is a service under way — a women’s prayer group. The rabbi says that the men in the main sanctuary must wait until the women’s service concludes its prayers and a half-dozen speeches. Scores of men drift away.
Ronnie Becher felt like an anxious hostess this time last year, wondering whether “everyone was going to show up to the party.” But the party — the first International Conference of Feminism and Orthodoxy — succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of Becher and the other organizers, who had modestly predicted a crowd of 400.