Jewfem Blog

Thank you for a great 2014

I'm honored to be included on the Forward's list of top ten women worth reading (Thank you Batya Ungar-Sargon!)   It's been an amazing 2014, full of intense writing, debate and community building. Some of the highlights for me were:   * Creating the Facebook group for people who are FEDDD UPPPP with the status of women in Orthodoxy (FEDDD UPPPPP: Feminist Forum For Empowerment and Exchange to Discuss, Debate, Defuse and Unpack Unfair and Uncompassionate Patriarchal Practices and Paradigms in Positive and Proactive ways...) that now has nearly 1800 members and has become an amazing place of support and collegiality (a virtual conscious-raising group)   *Covering the awful Freundel scandal ("the pervert with the pulpit") and helping be a part of a community-wide conversation to change power structures and control of wommen's intimate lives in the religious Jewish world    * Launching my new book, The War on Women in Israel, and going on a great book tour (two actually) around the United States to talk to people about this important topic   * Doing an interview on the Brian Lehrer show on NPR :-)  (And thanks to all the other interviews as well -- NPR Chicago Jerome MacDonnell, Voice of Israel, TLV, The Jewish Channel, etc)   * Weighing in on the terrible war in Israel, and coming out with my own story of political evolution, from yeshivah girl to feminist peace activist at Lilith  (expect more on this in 2015)   * Winning the National Jewish Book Council for my previous book, Educating in the Divine Image, with my colleague and co-author Dr Chaya Gorsetman (my SECOND JBC award.... wow)   * My El Al experience with haredi men on Tablet that went viral (who would have thought.....)   * My commentary on Kallah Teachers that also went viral   * Joining the board of the amazing El Halev with Yudit Sidikman (more on this in 2015 too)   * Helping my husband, Jacob Sztokman, provide 275,000 hot nutritious meals to children in the slums of Mumbai, 1000 each day prepared by 140 women in a women's empowerment cooperative. Read more about Gabriel Project Mumbai here   Thanks everyone for the great conversation and for all the important work in trying to make the world a better place for women (and MEN!)   Have a great 2015!  

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WOW!! My book, "The Men's Section" WON the National Jewish Book Award!

Still in shock by this news... that my book won the National Jewish Book Award, the Barbara Dobkin award in the category of Women's Studies. Full of gratitude to all those who helped me get here.... inspired by all the good will.... mostly just over the moon....Read more here http://www.jewishbookcouncil.org/awards/2012-national-jewish-book-award-winners .

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Orthodox women, Orthodox men: Never the twain shall meet?

Brandeis University Press authors win 2013 National Jewish Book Awards By Dana Trismen February 7, 2013 Section: Arts, Etc.   Brandeis University Press has recently boasted a series of successes, with two authors nominated as winners of the 2013 National Jewish Book Awards. Anita Shapira’s “Israel: A History” won in the history category, while Elana Maryles Sztokman earned a win in women’s studies for “The Men’s Section: Orthodox Jewish Men in an Egalitarian World.” Brandeis University Press is a member press of the University Press of New England (UPNE), which publishes in various fields, the majority of which are related to Jewish culture, thought and Israeli studies. Yet, the published books cover diverse subjects and viewpoints on topics such as politics, history, gender and philosophy. While their focus may be on the Jewish experience, their “goal is to illuminate subjects of all stripes with intelligence, curiosity and care,” according to the University Press website. “My book was published by the Hadassah Brandeis Institute, an organization at Brandeis University led by Professor Shulamith Reinharz and Professor Sylvia Barack Fishman, that focuses on scholarship in issues of gender and Judaism,” Sztokman said. Originally granted a research scholarship, she then submitted a proposal to be published, a request that was granted. “The people at HBI are phenomenal,” she said. “[They are] wonderful scholars and really incredibly supportive of emerging voices. I feel really lucky and privileged to have received their support.” Sztokman’s book, “The Men’s Section: Orthodox Jewish Men in an Egalitarian World,” examines gender identities of Orthodox men. “I wanted to know, when Orthodox Jews say things like, “Be a Man,” or “Today you are a man” (said at every bar mitzvah on the planet), what do they mean?” she said. “What does it mean to be an Orthodox man?” Her research drove her to interview many Jewish men, especially ones who belonged to synagogues called ‘partnership synagogues.’ These are places that have found a compromise between feminist ideals and Jewish law, allowing gender equality. “The men in these synagogues are deeply engaged in this gender struggle,” she said. The idea for her book came to her during a conversation she had with an Orthodox Jewish man. She remembers him saying, “I could never go to a synagogue like that, because if women are doing everything, what’s left for men to do?” Sztokman decided this was actually an important point. “He was articulating something very poignant about society,” she said. “When women step into roles that were once exclusively owned by men, the men suffer from a crisis of identity. They no longer know how to define themselves as a man.” This drove Sztokman to write a book that addressed what men were going through, instead of exclusively focusing on women in this movement. “We have to pay attention to how men deal with this if we are going to successfully create equitable, compassionate communities,” she said. Sztokman is very aware that Orthodox Judaism creates strict gender divisions. Men are allowed public actions...

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