Jewfem Blog

War on Women in Israel named Noteworthy Book for the New Year

The Jewish Journal named my book The War on Women in Israel a "noteworthy book for the new year"   '....likely to interest anyone whose attention has been caught by headlines about gender-segregated buses or the Women of the Wall: Elana Maryles Sztokman’s “The War on Women in Israel: How Religious Radicalism Is Smothering the Voice of a Nation” (Sourcebooks). Originally from Brooklyn and now living in Israel, author and activist Sztokman is careful to note that the subject’s importance extends far beyond Israel’s borders. As she explains in an introduction: “This book tells the story of the rapidly spreading religious radicalism in Israel and the phenomenal ways that religious feminists are leading the struggle for women’s freedom against this increasing oppression. It looks at the different places where this struggle is taking place: on buses, on streets, at the holy site of the Western Wall, in courtrooms, in rabbinical courts, in the media, on the Internet, on billboards, and in the Knesset. It’s a war that is still unfolding. Perhaps when you finish reading the book, you will discover that you have a place in this story as well, because as you will see, the war on women in Israel is a war on women — and men — everywhere.” '

  3336 Hits

The Brian Lehrer show!

I had a great conversation with Brian Lehrer of WNYC radio yesterday. He asked sharp and insightful questions, of course, and also took a few questions from callers-in. Take a listen. What do you think?  

  4096 Hits

Notes from my book tour: My first Barnes and Noble book signing!

I'm on my book tour for The War on Women in Israel. I spent Shabbat at Kol Sasson synagogue in Skokie, Chicago, where I gave a talk in the morning to a packed and deeply engaged crowd, and then gave an afternoon learning session on gender images in the Rosh Hashana liturgy. I was invited by Rebecca Minkus and hosted by Audrey and Simi Chavel. Thank you to everyone in Chicago who made this event so special! From there I traveled to St Louis Missouri, invited and hosted by Phyllis Shapiro and Maharat Rori Picker-Neiss. First I had my first ever book signing at Barnes and Noble, which feels like such a tremendous accomplishment. And then had a lovely and engaging event at Bais Abe Synagogue, where i gave two talks -- one about The War on Women in Israel, and one about my previous book, Educating in the Divine Image. It was very interesting to draw connections between both bodies of research, between what's happening with religious extremism and what's happening in Modern Orthodox day schools. Rabbi Hyim Shafner was full of vision and wisdom, as were all the members of the audience. Bais Abe is also a very special community, and I feel privileged to have been invited. Now I'm on my way to NYC (typing in the airport lounge, waiting to board the flight to La Guardia). I have a few media appearances and two more talks before heading home to Israel for Rosh Hashana. For more details on my trip, check out  my itinerary or check out some of my book reviews (including Publisher's Weekly -- another major milestone in my writing career!). Thanks to all who have made this possible, and who have supported me with likes and comments on my FB page.   And if you would like me to come to your neighborhood on my next trip, just shoot me an email -- This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

  3874 Hits

TOI Book review: An "extremely compelling study"

Davida Chazan reviews "The War on Women in Israel" at TOI: "Sztokman has done an outstanding job of uncovering and compiling the evidence of this horrific trend in Israel, and has written it with the most compelling language possible, making it feel more like a fictional thriller or emotional drama than a work of non-fiction. Moreover, that an Orthodox woman would be the one to write such a book is nothing short of heroic, as I’m sure this will raise ire among many (which is a good thing, if you ask me). Thankfully, Sztokman also includes the positive side of this situation in Israel, and how the Haredim are beginning to lose their grip since the last Knesset elections, which forced them to move to the opposition. This brings me to the only problem with this book; because the situation is so volatile here right now, some of the information is already out of date – particularly the most recent successes achieved in only the past weeks and months." Read more: The Masters of Misogyny | Davida Chazan | The Blogs | The Times of Israel Follow us: @timesofisrael on Twitter | timesofisrael on Facebook

  3296 Hits


I'm embarking on the first round of my  book tour today, launching The War on Women in Israel. Stops in: * Chicago -- Kol Sasson Synagogue * St Louis -- Barnes and Noble and then Bais Abe Synagogue * Yale Hillel * Stamford * New York City   Watch this space for reports on my new adventures!   L'hitraot!  

  3137 Hits

Talia Weisberg gives "The War on Women" a rave review at New Voices Magazine

Most Americans are familiar with what the media has dubbed the “War on Women,” or Congress’ relentless attacks against many basic women’s rights. Fewer know that Israel is also suffering from a resurgence of conservative ideologies and consequent rollback of feminist gains. In her book The War on Women in Israel: How Religious Radicalism is Smothering the Voice of a Nation, Elana Maryles Sztokman exposes many gendered issues within Israel, delivers a spot-on analysis of the underlying reasons for the inequalities, and proposes creative solutions to build a more inclusive society. I feel that the book is enhanced by Sztokman’s overall love of Israel. As a dedicated Zionist, I often struggle when I feel the need to critique my homeland, since I fear that those in the anti-Israel camp will twist my words and use them for their own nefarious purposes. However, it is important that we who support Israel without fail do not try to cover up its rough edges; otherwise, we cannot hope to perfect the Zionist dream. In The War on Women in Israel, Sztokman shows that one can be a committed Zionist, even one who lives in Israel and has children serving in the Israel Defense Forces, but still agitate for change within Israeli society.   Read the rest here

  3378 Hits

The Promised Podcast discusses "Gaza: It's a man's war"

Noah Efron leads a really interesting discussion at The Promised Podcast about my article in The Atlantic about gender in the Gaza war. Take a listen from 27:45

  4681 Hits

"Gaza: A Man's War" -- my feature article in The Atlantic

During Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s month-long military operation in Gaza, which is now suspended in a fragile ceasefire, Israelis were glued to their screens. And more often than not, those screens showed images of men. The Israeli soldiers were men. The Hamas fighters were men. The pundits pontificating were men. And nearly all the Israeli and Palestinian casualties were men. When women did appear, they were often seen eulogizing, mourning, or struggling to reconcile with their reality. The images capture a sobering fact: Women in the region are suffering terribly from the consequences of decisions from which they are excluded. But critically, these gender dynamics also point to a way out of perpetual conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. From start to finish, the latest Gaza conflict has largely been a man’s war. The Israeli negotiating team in Egypt does not include a single woman–not even Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, whose condition for joining the current governing coalition was that she head Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has instead appointed his own (male) representative, Yitzchak Molcho, to represent him in the delegation. Livni sits on Israel’s security cabinet, the small committee that has made most of the major decisions about this war, but, tellingly, she is the only woman at the table. The story is the same on Israeli television and in the country’s newspapers. According to a study by The Marker, fewer than 10 percent of all experts interviewed on news programs during the war have been women. The sexism underlying women’s exclusion from security and military leadership has found expression in some particularly troubling statements by senior officials and commentators. Moshe Feiglin, a member of Israel’s legislature, or Knesset, recently reprimanded lawmaker Aliza Lavie for discussing a bill on sexual violence, saying that wartime is no time to be “talking about things like flowers and sexual assault.” Bar-Ilan University professor Mordechai Kedar argued on Israeli radio that the only way to stop terrorists is to threaten to rape “their sister or their mother.” The implications have not gone unnoticed. “Women are sexually assaulted every day,” Amalia Schreier, a Lavie aide who had a hand in writing the sexual-assault bill, told Feiglin. “The comparison between ‘flowers’ and ‘sexual assault’ and the delegitimization of this issue has the effect of hurting and placing at risk 50 percent of the population.” In the current conflict, all Israeli combat casualties have been men, since the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) does not allow female soldiers to operate in positions “over the border.” On the Palestinian side, virtually all Hamas fighters are men, and more than 80 percent of Palestinian casualties in Gaza have been male (a New York Times analysis on Tuesday found that Palestinian men ages 20 to 29, the population most likely to be militants, was most overrepresented in the death toll). But women suffer gravely too—among other things, they perish in homes, schools, and hospitals that come under Israeli attack and occasionally double as Hamas strongholds, and grapple with the psychological...

Continue reading
  4480 Hits

Israel's men-only bomb shelter

While people all around Israel have spent the past two weeks scrambling for cover during rocket attacks, it seems that in some places, only men’s lives are considered worth protecting. In the Ashdod rabbinate building, the bomb shelter has a sign on it reading “For men only,” and women who happened to be in the rabbinate during recent raids were not allowed into the bomb shelter. Thus reports MK Stav Shaffir, whose staffer happened to be at the rabbinate this week when all this was taking place. Orit, an Ashdod resident who was also in the rabbinate this week with her husband, told Yediot Ahronot about the “insult of trying to impose gender segregation on us even at times like this,” and her shocked discovery that the “women’s” shelter was just a regular room, with windows and plaster walls and no indications of protection from rocket attacks. Her husband added that gender segregation has reached “insane proportions, and are now at the point of risking women’s lives. The rabbinate is basically saying that it’s important to them to save men’s lives, but women can die or pray or hope for a miracle. It’s just unbelievable”. Read more:

  3037 Hits

Publisher's Weekly gives The War on Women in Israel a glowing review

Great news to share!  Publishers Weekly gave The War on Women in Israel a glowing review.   “Combining a chilling warning with a rousing call to action…”  “Cutting, candid, and lucid, Sztokman’s account of injustice makes an eloquent plea for “the assertion of a secular-democratic vision for Israeli society” and will inspire more dialogue.” Full review: The War on Women in Israel: How Religious Radicalism Is Smothering the Voice of a Nation Elana Maryles Sztokman. Sourcebooks, $24.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4926-0459-4 Combining a chilling warning with a rousing call to action, feminist activist Sztokman (The Men’s Section) documents the places in Israel where “a radical religious misogyny has been gradually creeping into public spaces.” With outrage and bewilderment, she chronicles how Israeli business leaders, lawmakers, politicians, and police have caved to the demands of an ultra-Orthodox minority to remove women’s faces, voices, and even their physical presence from public venues, creating “female-free zones” in the name of modesty. She exposes the “entrenched culture of sexism” in the Israeli army and legislature, and explores how the Orthodox rabbinical courts cause disproportionate harm to women in their governance of “personal status” issues (marriage, divorce, and conversion), among other concerns. Sztokman rejects the “false claim of moral equivalence” that regards a woman’s basic human rights as equal to “a man’s right to silence her.” Instead, she implores the public to set aside the “distanced reverence for religion” that tolerates such practices and enjoins support for the “powerful alliance” among Orthodox feminists, religious pluralists, and human rights activists. Cutting, candid, and lucid, Sztokman’s account of injustice makes an eloquent plea for “the assertion of a secular-democratic vision for Israeli society” and will inspire more dialogue. Agent: Fern Reiss, Publishing Game Literary. (Sept.)

  3332 Hits