JOFA

A Woman's Place: On Sukkah Walls

JOFA project aims to add portraits of female scholars to those of the rabbis.

06/25/2014
Staff Writer
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No longer are only rabbis guaranteed a spot on your sukkah wall. JOFA has launched a new initiative to give women scholars their rightful place on the ritual huts' walls.

Jewish women scholars appear on new sukkah posters. Courtesy of JOFA

For Orthodox Women, ‘Catch-22’ On Tefillin

Ritual a difficult taboo to break, even as other gender norms fall; Yeshivah of Flatbush now debating issue for its students.

02/04/2014
Staff Writer
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A debate about whether female students should be allowed to pray wearing tefillin at school — one that straddles feminism and Jewish law — has been sweeping the Modern Orthodox world.

In Conservative shuls, it's now common for women to wear tefillin. But in the Orthodox world, it's still taboo. Courtesy of USCJ

A Year Of Advances For Orthodox Feminists

01/14/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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This past year was a good one for Orthodox Jewish feminists, and the years ahead hold great promise. Last June, Yeshivat Maharat, which ordains women as spiritual leaders and religious authorities, graduated its first three “maharats,” as they are called. (“Maharat” is a Hebrew acronym for “manhiga hilchatit ruchanit toranit,” a female legal, spiritual and Torah leader.) More than 500 people, from all branches of Judaism, turned out for the ceremony in New York. In December, JOFA (Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance) held its eighth international conference, attended by more than 1,000 people in an atmosphere of exuberance and optimism.

Francine Klagsbrun

New Agunah Court Announced

Bet din with backing of key haredi jurist now in formation with goal of freeing ‘chained’ wives.

12/11/2013
Editor and Publisher
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In what appears to be a major breakthrough in the long, tortuous effort to solve the problem of agunot, or "chained wives," an international religious court is in formation, headed by a highly respected Orthodox rabbi, with the goal of freeing women trapped in broken marriages.

Gary Rosenblatt

‘Voices Of Change’ At The JOFA Conference

Edgy topics and an influx of young people at first international gathering of Orthodox feminists in four years.

12/10/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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Social change within a conservative system is fueled by persistence and tempered with patience. Ever since its beginnings two decades ago around the dining room table of pioneer Blu Greenberg, the association of feminism and Orthodoxy has sparked fierce support, relentless opposition and multitude of questions.

Israeli Knesset member Ruth Calderon speaking Sunday at the JOFA conference. Joan Roth

New Effort To End Agunot Crisis

A haredi jurist is backing a rabbinic court that will address the problem of husbands who won't grant divorces.

12/09/2013
Editor And Publisher
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In what appears to be a major breakthrough in the long, tortuous effort to solve the problem of agunot (or, chained wives), an international bet din (religious court) is in formation, headed by a highly respected Orthodox rabbi, with the goal of freeing women trapped in broken marriages.

Blu Greenberg at the JOFA conference where the formation of the new rabbinic court was made public. Photo courtesy JOFA

Time To Act On Agunot

07/03/2013
Editorial

For many years advocates on behalf of agunot (observant Jewish women trapped in unwanted marriages) have sought to resolve the problem through their rabbis. And while many rabbinic authorities have expressed personal empathy and anguish for the plight of these women, the rabbis collectively have insisted that they are powerless in the face of halacha, or Jewish law, which says the husband has the absolute right to determine if and when to end a marriage.

Agunah Summit Revisits Plan To Create Liberal Religious Courts

Joint JOFA-Tikvah Center plenum kindles new hopes, but advocates for ‘trapped’ women still face uphill battle.

06/26/2013
Associate Editor
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Some agunot, observant Jewish women trapped in unwanted marriages, wait many years for a Jewish divorce. Meanwhile, after having devoted decades to the cause, a number of activists, now with a touch of grey in their hair, with weariness in their heart, have begun to wonder whether a solution to the agunah crisis is possible.

Maharats March Into Jewish World

First-ever ordination at Orthodox women’s seminary seen as ‘sea change,’ but steep hurdles persist.

06/19/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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It was a rite of spring, as graduations are.

But this one, like Stravinsky’s 100-year-old musical score, was a controversial and bold break with tradition and all that came before.

Rabba Sara Hurwitz, left with Maharats Ruth Balinsky Friedman, left, Rachel Kohl Finegold and Abby Brown Scheier. Joan Roth

Maharat Hired At DC Shul, With Help From JOFA Leader

05/17/2013
Assistant Managing Editor

One of the first three graduates of Yeshiva Maharat will serve in a clergy position at an Orthodox congregation in Washington, D.C., thanks to a grant from a board member of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance.

Ruth Balinsky Friedman will serve as a spiritual teacher at National Synagogue. Yeshivah Maharat photo.
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