The ways in which women are vulnerable, and their human rights are violated, have changed little through the millennia, and climate change will only exacerbate the same old suffering.
Special to the Jewish Week
In December 2004, when the Indian Ocean tsunami devastated the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, women died, in part, because they could not swim, because they put the needs of their children first, and most tragically of all, they drowned in their homes because they would not flee after debris had torn off their clothes. In the years since the tsunami, these shocking facts have motivated NGOs to develop programs to prepare women for the increasing number of disasters expected to result from climate change.
(JTA) -- The Orthodox Union issued a statement saying women may not lead Friday night Kabbalat Shabbat services if men are present.
Last week’s decision by the group's board of directors is the latest setback for Orthodox Jews seeking greater roles for women in worship ritual.
“With regard to the matter of a woman leading Kabbalat Shabbat services before an audience of men and women, the position of the Orthodox Union is that such practice is improper and constitutes an unacceptable breach of Jewish tradition," the board said.
One of the biggest challenges facing Orthodox Jewish communities is rarely spoken about publicly. By admitting women into the cadre of the religious hierarchy, those who traditionally hold this place must make room to allow new members to be part of their ranks. It comes as no surprise that those in power are reluctant to relinquish it and evoke women’s modesty, biology or formal position naming issues to hinder the negotiation between present demands and past traditions.
In a group ceremony, women enjoy a belated, but gratifying, rite of passage.
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Bonnie Panzok is just trying to catch up with her children.
When Panzok sent her kids to Jewish day school to get the education she never got, she watched as their knowledge grew exponentially and surpassed her own. But now, Panzok, after a crash course in Jewish history and rituals, has soared ahead, filling in the gaps in her own Jewish learning.
The Rabbinical Council of America, on the eve of its three-day annual convention, starting Sunday, has decided to make all of it off limits to the press.
The group, the rabbinic arm of the Orthodox Union, will be meeting at the Young Israel of Scarsdale through Tuesday afternoon, grappling primarily with the issue of boundaries for women's leadership roles in the synagogue and community. The participants are expected to pass a resolution that the majority of the more than 900 members can embrace dealing with which roles are permissible under halacha and which are not.
Despite calls from women's rights advocates to endorse a bill that would create new criminal codes against stalking, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver says a measure passed in March by the state Senate and now languishing in the Assembly is "overbroad" and does not stress the intent of the perpetrator.
"Every criminal statute has to define intent," said Silver. "This [law] does not define intent, so that if someone sends flowers to a woman he is guilty of a crime if that person feels upset about it."
With the nation riveted to the political turmoil in Washington, Jewish women at a conference in Woodbury were told that the Jewish community's clout depended on their involvement on the political stage.
"Political activism is necessary for the preservation of Jewish freedoms and institutions, and for the safety and security of Israel," said Betty Ehrenberg, executive director of the Orthodox Union's Institute for Public Affairs. "Jews have reached a point of privilege in society because they have fought in the political arena and made their voices heard."
Citing a "glass ceiling" in Jewish communal life that has prevented women from advancing to leadership positions in national Jewish organizations and large city federations, the newly created Trust for Jewish Philanthropy has announced that its first initiative will be to tackle the gender gap.
To help the project get off the ground, the philanthropist Barbara Dobkin, who founded and chairs Ma'yan, the Jewish Women's Project of the JCC of the Upper West Side, said she and her husband, Eric, are donating $1 million in seed money.
As she sat down for lunch at a Midtown restaurant, Sandy Cahn set her cell phone on the table. Within minutes, a client was calling. Minutes later, the phone rang regarding an appointment later that day at UJA-Federation.
Cahn, 50, who in July will become the first full-time working woman to head UJA-Federation's Women's Campaign, is already juggling her workload. She is not only vice president of sales for The Weeks, Lerman Co., an office supply and furniture company in Maspeth, Queens, but chair of the Women's Campaign in Manhattan, where she lives.
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