16.12.2020 - online

How to be a Jewish feminist and hold on to Jewish tradition?

We invite you to the second online lecture in the Distinguished Lectures series. This time, Professor Susannah Heschel will overview history of Jewish feminism and discuss the problems that face this feminist movement going forward, and present some of the issues in the scholarly field of Jewish Studies as gender and feminist theory are incorporated.

Jewish feminism, the pursuit of human rights for women within Judaism, is also a movement to create a feminist Judaism. Indications of these efforts are found in the Bible and Talmud and in antiquity to the present. The lecture will discuss the recent history of Jewish feminism that began to take shape in the 1960s in the United States and grew in each decade to include more and more Jewish communities, scholars and intellectuals. 

The Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance recently celebrated one of its greatest achievement, the ordination of Orthodox women rabbis who join women rabbis in all the other denominations of contemporary Judaism. Scholars have written extensively on the history of Jewish women and developed feminist hermeneutics for interpreting biblical and rabbinic literatures. Several areas of Jewish life remain intransigent and at the forefront of today’s agenda, including men’s control over divorce, is the marginalization of women in the growing haredi community. 

Susannah Heschel is the Eli M. Black Distinguished Professor and chair of the Jewish Studies Program at Dartmouth College. She is the author of Abraham Geiger and the Jewish Jesus, The Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany, and Jüdischer Islam: Islam und jüdisch-deutsche Selbstbestimmung, and co-editor, with Umar Ryad, of The Muslim Reception of European Orientalism. While a student, she edited one of the first books on Jewish feminism, and feminist theory continues to inspire her scholarship; she is currently writing a book with Sarah Imhoff titled Jewish Studies and the Woman Question. The recipient of four honorary degrees, she has held research grants from the Carnegie Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the National Humanities Center, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. 
Karolina Szymaniak is Assistant Professor at the Jewish Studies Department at the University of Wrocław and Research Fellow at the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw. Her research interests range across modern Yiddish literature, Polish-Jewish cultural relations, politics of memory, theories of Modernism and of the avant-garde. In addition to having taught Yiddish language and culture throughout Poland and Europe, she has also served as a consultant for POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews and the Museum of Modern Art in Łódz. Her book on the Polish-Yiddish Modernist writer Debora Vogel was published in 2006 in Poland. She co-edited: Warszawska awangarda jidysz (Warsaw Yiddish Avant-garde), Dialog poetów (Dialogue of Poets), Montages. Debora Vogel and the New City Legend, and Moja dzika koza. Antologia poetek jidysz (My wild goat. Anthology of women Yiddish poets). She is the editor of Rachel Auerbach's ghetto writings which received the 2016 Polityka weekly History Award for the best publication in the primary sources category. 


The lecture is organized within the Global Education Outreach Program

This program was made possible thanks to Taube Philanthropies, the William K. Bowes, Jr. Foundation, and the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland

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