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JOFA's logo, evoking the waters of Miriam's well

The Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA) was founded in 1997 with the aim of "expand[ing] the spiritual, ritual, intellectual, and political opportunities for women within the framework of halakha," or Jewish law.[1]

History and missionEdit

According to its website, JOFA's mission is to advocate the "meaningful participation" of women, to the fullest extent possible within the framework of halakha, in family life, synagogues, houses of learning, and within the Jewish community in general.

JOFA was founded in 1997 after the first International Conference on Feminism and Orthodoxy, organized by Jewish-American writer Blu Greenberg. Greenberg was a cofounder and the first president of JOFA. JOFA has grown from a small group who met at Greenberg's kitchen table to become a professionally staffed, international alliance, active in North America, Israel, and England.[2]

Robin Bodner was the Executive Director of the organization for over a decade. She retired in early 2012, and shortly thereafter Dr. Elana Maryles Sztokman became Executive Director. Sztokman is credited with significantly raising JOFA's public profile, reaching out to young Orthodox feminists, connecting with social activists around the United States and around the world, launching JOFA UK with JOFA UK Ambassador Dina Brawer, and re-crafting the JOFA message around sophisticated feminist thought.

In January 2014, JOFA announced that Sztokman would be leaving the organization. In September 2014, Dr. Sharon Weiss-Greenberg assumed the position of Executive Director.[3] Weiss-Greenberg has drastically increased the online presence of JOFA and the diversity of its constituents. Their Facebook page more than doubled its reach within a year of her stepping into the position. It was under her tutelage that JOFA began creating chapters to engage and empower communities outside of the New York area. She was successful in broadening the tent of those who identify as a #HumanOfJOFA.

In February 2019, Daphne Lazar-Price was appointed the executive director of JOFA.

Halakhic PublicationsEdit

JOFA has published numerous halakhic guides as a part of the Ta Shma series, educating the public about topics related to women's involvement in Orthodox Jewish ritual. Topics include:

Educational InitiativesEdit

Project Esther: Megillat Esther AppEdit

JOFA's interactive app allows women and men to learn the cantillations for reading Megillat Esther. The app can be downloaded to your smart phone or tablet or can be used on the web with Chrome or Safari browsers. The user can practice by following along with the megillah text, while they listen to the layner. An easy to use navigation system allows the user to replay desired sections, both with and without the cantillation marks appearing on the screen. The app also includes instructions on how to organize a megillah reading, a halakhic discussion of the sources for women's reading of the megillah, a dvar Torah about the Book of Esther and more.[4]

Women Scholars Sukkot PosterEdit

In 2014, JOFA launched an initiative to sponsor artwork for the creation of an educational poster featuring notable female Jewish scholars, to be used to decorate sukkot.[5][6]

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Adler, Rachel. "Feminist Judaism: Past and Future", Crosscurrents, Winter 2002, Vol. 51, No 4.
  • Gorsetman, Chaya Rosenfeld and Elana Maryles Sztokman, Educating in the Divine Image: Gender Issues in Orthodox Jewish Day Schools. Brandeis University Press, 2013
  • Greenberg, Blu. (1981) On Women and Judaism: A View from Tradition. Jewish Publication Society of America. ISBN 0-8276-0226-X
  • Greenberg, Blu. "Will There Be Orthodox Women Rabbis?". Judaism 33.1 (Winter 1984): 23-33.
  • Greenberg, Blu. "Is Now the Time for Orthodox Women Rabbis?". Moment Dec. 1992: 50-53, 74.
  • Nussbaum Cohen, Debra. "The women’s movement, Jewish identity and the story of a religion transformed," TheJewishWeek.com, June 17, 2004
  • Ross, Tamar. Expanding the Palace of Torah: Orthodoxy and Feminism. Brandeis University Press, 2004.
  • Sztokman, Elana Maryles, The Men's Section: Orthodox Jewish Men in an Egalitarian World. Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, UPNE, 2011
  • Wolowelsky, Joel B. "Feminism and Orthodox Judaism", Judaism, 188, 47:4, 1998, 499-507.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 8, 2006. Retrieved March 14, 2006. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 8, 2006. Retrieved March 14, 2006. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ http://blogs.forward.com/sisterhood-blog/190619/elana-sztokman-to-leave-jewish-orthodox-feminist-a/; http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?ca=1884551b-1fbd-4277-a4f9-3fd7164c1e62&c=0fcc33e0-32e4-11e3-8bdb-d4ae527599c4&ch=109661b0-32e4-11e3-8d39-d4ae527599c4
  4. ^ Megillat Esther App
  5. ^ Jewish Week A Woman's Place: On Sukkah Walls 6-25-2014 http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/new-york/womans-place-sukkah-walls
  6. ^ My Jewish Learning Body Talk – Our Bodies, Our Sukkah Posters 10-20-2014 http://www.myjewishlearning.com/blog/the-torch/2014/10/20/body-talk-our-bodies-our-sukkah-posters/