JewFem is thrilled to offer a brand new telecourse, "Dynamics of Jewish Feminism", bringing together the best and the brightest Jewish Feminist thinkers, leaders, writers, artists, activists and rabbis.
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MAY 3 Why Jewish feminism? Is there such a thing as a Jewish feminist vision and ideology that crosses denominations? If so, is what does it consist of? Is it useful to conceive of this as a movement that crosses denominations? What are the benefits and challenges of broadening the Jewish feminist “tent”? Are there social expectations around gender that cross denominational boundaries? Do our shared histories or our disparate histories impact how we connect around Jewish feminism? This session will explore some of the fundamental issues around how our cultures construct meanings of Jewish woman/Jewish man, how we work to reconstruct gender identity within our respective cultures, and the complicated process of searching for new power and social dynamics within our own ancient, patriarchal traditions.
MAY 10 Slut-shaming, Jewish style: Body, modesty, and gaze: How ubiquitous is body gaze in our communities? How does language of body cover impact how we practice? Who is given power to gaze and who is gazed upon? How much do we gaze upon one another? How do different communities manage language and practice of “modesty” and excessing body-cover? What does modesty even mean? And how do we manage surrounding Western cultures that promote body un-covering? How do we relate to growing extremism of gender segregation around us? Does that culture of gender segregation belong to us at all? Does it affect us? How do we navigate so many messages around body cover/uncover? And how do the processes of gaze and segregation contribute to a binary, hetero-normative culture that boxes people into gender identity?
MAY 17 Sex and relationships: On mikveh, niddah, and sexuality. This session will explore sexuality in Jewish life, along with unraveling the role of tradition in constructing ideas about sexuality. Collecting/sharing women's experiences, impressions, ideas, about these practices. Navigating tradition and empowerment. What do we do with Judaism’s mixed heritage on sex and sexuality? What does empowered practice look like? What does a feminist, Jewish sexuality look like? Is there a such thing? Where would mikveh and niddah fit in?
MAY 31 On domestic violence, divorce and agunot. What do we know about Jewish domestic violence? What is the connection between domestic violence and agunot in the Jewish community? Is the agunah issue “just” an Orthodox problem? Is it “just” a feminist problem? Is it better or worse in Israel? How do we deal with the need to cooperate with orthodox rabbis on this entrenched issue? What would a cross-denominational feminist approach to this issue look like?
JUNE 7 Sexual abuse. Where is sexual abuse within the agenda of Jewish feminism? Where does child sexual abuse fit in on the spectrum of feminist approaches to sexual violence? Are Jewish feminists active on issues of child sexual abuse – why or why not? What would it mean to have a feminist mission around these issues? What do we do in the post-Freundel reality of rabbis and sexual predation? Is it about awareness? Empowerment? Healing? Social change? Men in power? And what about women abusers? Or women enablers?
JUNE 14 Ritual and spirituality. If ritual was one of the first frontlines of Jewish feminism, where would that be today? Is there still a need for women’s spirituality and women’s-only spaces? How can a feminist approach to Jewish ritual be about more than a female version of what men do but basing it on women’s life experience, life cycles? On the other hand, what are the risks of adopting an approach of difference-feminism?
JUNE 21 Women's leadership. How does this issue cross denominational boundaries? What can we learn from each other? What do we want in terms of women leaders? Do titles matter? Do we want women leaders or feminist leaders? What are the tensions between women in different denominations on these issues? How can we alleviate them?
JUNE 28 Jewish feminism, feminist Judaism, and what’s in between. Where to from here? What do we want? On social change, empowerment and healing and the tensions between them. What are the missing issues that we have not yet discussed (eg ethnicities, class and privilege, other social hierarchies, women and money, gender issues in Jewish education, reproductive rights, men’s roles, masculinities, cyberbullying, halakha, Jewish textual traditions, feminist arts, LGBT issues, changing families, interfaith feminism, Israeli feminisms, Jewish feminism in the developing world)? Where does religion and spirituality fit into the work of social change – and vice versa? Should we be working on individual healing or on the power of the group – or both? Creating a plan for building a feminist Jewish world. And launching the next steps, next courses, new initiatives…….details to follow…..