March - Gender Inequality

 

 

March – Gender Inequality

 

Women in Judaism

Women have always played an important role in Judaism. From the creation of Adam & Eve, to Pharaoh’s daughter, Bithiah, saving Moses from the river Nile, to Queen Esther foiling the evil plot of Haman. Women are often seen as both equals and secondary to men in the Torah and Talmud. However, Reform Judaism is clear that men and women are equal in all parts of Jewish life. The Jewish Women’s Archive states that “leaders of Reform Judaism in the United States have often celebrated their movement’s role in emancipating women from the many restrictions that Judaism has traditionally imposed upon their ability to participate and lead public worship.” Some of these restrictions, like gender-segregated prayer pews and the allowance of Bat Mitzvah ceremonies.  With women taking on more roles and responsibilities in Temple, congregational life became more and more enriched. This leading to the first American ordained female Rabbi in1972 (Jewish Women's Archive).   

Social Justice Issues and Women

Women have accomplished significant milestones and achievements in the United States regarding gender equality in the United States over the last century. In 2018 a record number of women ran for and were elected in political office, women now outnumber men in most college campuses, and important conversations were ignited across the country about sexual assault, gender-wage gap, and more. Still, there are many social justice issues that effect women in the United States today. As of 2018, the United States ranked 51 out of 142 applicable countries in gender equality according to the World Economic Forum. Additionally, in 2017 women in the workplace made only 80.5 cents for every dollar men make (Institute of Women's Policy Research , while women of color make on average just 60 cents for every dollar. Prevalent issues that remain ongoing are pay equity, reproductive rights, workplace discrimination, gender-based violence, and family leave.

The Religious Action Center (RAC) states “acting as Jewish women of faith, organized through sisterhoods and women’s groups, and embracing the values of Reform Judaism, we continue to bring our progressive, Reform Jewish values to bear in the community at large as we have done for one hundred years.”.

Jewish women have also had a long history in advocating social justice issues. Dr. Jane Evans, first Executive Director of the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods (now the Women of Reform Judaism or WRJ), stated “We are a fellowship of women, religiously motivated… dedicated to the service of Jewish and humanitarian causes through the centrality of Judaism”. As social justice remains a vital and crucial role in Reform Judaism, women remain active agents in positive political and social change. For more than 100 years, WRJ continues to fight against injustice and inequality by advocating for vulnerable and marginalized groups, march for suffrage, and support progress. Read more about the Women of Reform Judaism, here.

 

Hear:

 

  • Music:
  • Rainbow (2017) – Kesha
  • BEYONCE (2013) – Beyoncé
  • Jagged Little Pill (1995) – Alanis Morrissette
  • Little Queen (1977) – Heart
  • Tapestry (1971) – Carole King
  • Like A Prayer (1989) – Madonna
  • 21 (2011) – Adele
  • I Never Loved a Man, the Way Loved You (1967) – Aretha Franklin
  • Joanne (2016) – Lady Gaga

See:

  • Film:
    • She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry (2014)
      • “Paints a passionate picture of the history of the women's movement and its leaders, focusing on 1966 to 1971.”
    • Wonder Woman (2017)
      • “When a pilot crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, Diana, an Amazonian warrior in training, leaves home to fight a war, discovering her full powers and true destiny.”
    • Killing Us Softly
      • “Award-winning, ongoing series shows how the advertising industry continues to reinforce, and glamorize, a regressive and debased notion of femininity.”
    • The Hunting Ground (2015)
      • Many college students who have been raped on campus face retaliation and harassment as they fight for justice.”
    • Golden Girls (1985-1992)
      • “Four mature women live together in Miami and experience the joys and angst of their golden years.”
    • Brave (2012)
      • “Determined to make her own path in life, Princess Merida defines a custom that brings chaos to her kingdom. Granted one wish, Merida must rely on her bravery and her archery skills to undo a beastly curse.”
    • The Women’s List (2015)
      • “Need some new feminist heroes? Look no further than The Women's List, which features interviews with a handful of women breaking barriers in their fields.
    • The Red Pill (2016)
      • “Feminist filmmaker Cassie Jaye's journey following the men's rights movement.”
    • Miss Representation (2011)
      • “Feminists are probably always going to need to challenge the sexist portrayals of women in the media, and Miss Representation will give you the information to do so.”
    • Finding Home (2014)
      • “Living in the United States, it's all too easy to be blissfully unaware of the harsh realities of human trafficking going on in the world, especially as it affects women.”
  • ELITalks: (Allows individuals and organizations to cultivate, transmit, and curate Jewish ideas and thoughts through digital conversations.)
  • TED Talks:
  • Books:
    • “The Journey Home: How Jewish Women Shaped Modern America” by Joyce Antler
      • “In recent decades, prominent American Jewish women like Bella Abzug and Betty Friedan have made headlines and history, challenging the constraints facing women in American public life. Few realize that these women embody a hundred-year legacy of remarkable activism.”
    • “Feminism is for Everybody” by bell hooks
      • “What is feminism? In this short, accessible primer, bell hooks explores the nature of feminism and its positive promise to eliminate sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression.”
    • “The Rise of Entitled Sexism” by Susan J. Douglas
      • “Journey through the television programs, popular songs, movies, and news coverage of recent years, telling a story that is nothing less than the cultural biography of a new generation of American women.”
    • “The JGirl’s Guide: The Young Jewish Woman’s Handbook for Coming of Age” by Penina Adelman, Ali Feldman, And Shulamit Reinharz
      • “A fun survival guide for coming of age with practical, real-world advice from Judaism. Rabbis, athletes, writers, musicians, great Jewish thinkers and lots of girls just like you offer honest, helpful discussion about the things that really matter to you.”
    • “Gender and Assimilation in Modern Jewish History” by Paula E. Hyman
      • “Hyman broadens and revises earlier analyses of Jewish assimilation, which depicted the Jews as though they were all men, by focusing on women and the domestic as well as the public realms.”
    • “Men Explain Things to Me” by Rebecca Soint
      • “The book is a collection of seven essays and, according to its publisher, ‘has become a touchstone of the feminist movement.’”
    • “New Jewish Feminism” Edited by Rabbi Elyse Goldstein
      • “The book is intended to open up a dialogue between the early Jewish feminist pioneers and the young women shaping Judaism today…. Read it, use it, debate it, ponder it."
    • “The Bell Jar” Sylvia Plath
      • “A shocking, realistic, and intensely emotional novel about a woman falling into the grip of insanity. Esther Greenwood is brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under—maybe for the last time”
    • “The Sacred Calling” CCAR Challenge and Change Series
      • “Women have been rabbis for over forty years. No longer are women rabbis a unique phenomenon, rather they are part of the fabric of Jewish life. In this anthology, rabbis and scholars from across the Jewish world reflect on the historic significance of women in the rabbinate and explore issues related to both the professional and personal lives of women rabbis.”
    • “Bad Feminist” by Roxane Gay
      • “Feminist explores being a feminist while loving things that could seem at odds with feminist ideology.”
    • Seek Her Out” by Rabbi Elyse M. Goldstein
      • “Addresses the issue of women in Judaism. While it began as a struggle to be equal with men religiously, the feminist movement within Judaism has evolved in recent years.”
    • “The Handmaiden’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood
      • “A dystopian novel set in a near-future New England, in a totalitarian state resembling a theonomy that has overthrown the United States government. The novel focuses on the journey of the handmaid Offred.” Watch the show.
    • “The Vagina Monologues” by Eve Ensler
      • Play made up of various personal monologues read by a diverse group of women”
    • “The Second Sex” by Simone de Beauvoir
      • “The author discusses the treatment of women throughout history.”
    • “Women Remaking American Judaism” Edited by Riv-Ellen Prell
      • “The rise of Jewish feminism, a branch of both second-wave feminism and the American counterculture, in the late 1960s had an extraordinary impact on the leadership, practice, and beliefs of American Jews.”

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