Are All Women Leaders Feminists? Professor Bat-Sheva Margalit Stern on Women's Leadership


Dr. Bat-Sheva Margalit Stern, associate professor of history at the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, contrasts the leadership of Meir, who disavowed feminism, with the leadership of Ada Fishman Maimon, an advocate of feminism, one of the founders of Women Workers Movement and a member of Knesset. Watch the video to learn more about Meir and Maimon’s differing leadership styles.

Was Beatriz Convicted? Professor Renée Levine Melammed and the Case of the Mysterious Midwife


This month marks the 482nd anniversary of the start of the trials of Beatriz Rodriguez – a 16th century Castilian midwife tried numerous time by the inquisitors of Toledo.  Dr. Renée Levine Melammed, Professor of Jewish History, describes how she first began researching women of the Spanish Inquisition. 

Is it Permissible for Women to Serve as Shohatot (Ritual Slaughterers)? Responsa in a Moment Vol. 12, No. 1, December 2017


Is it permissible for women to serve as Shohatot (ritual slaughterers)? We shall present the opinions of those who permit, those who limit, and those who prohibit, and then we shall summarize the matter and give a halakhic ruling. In this responsum, we shall repeatedly use the Hebrew words Shehitah [ritual slaughter] and Nikkur [porging of meat in order to remove the forbidden fat and sinews].

Two Women Who Clung to the Shechinah


Within ancient Hebrew manuscripts, scattered among libraries throughout the world, one can find some surprising treasures, like previously unknown and unpublished pieces of writing. The unusual midrash we will examine here is one of these. It appears in a manuscript that is part of the Firkovich collection, which resides in the Russian National Library in St. Petersburg.

Uncovering Women’s Lives in the Cairo Geniza


In his monumental work, A Mediterranean Society, S.D. Goitein devoted an entire chapter of Volume III to “The World of Women.” This was an unusual step for any Jewish historian, but Goitein was truly an unusual scholar. He had studied and analyzed an endless number of documents from the Cairo Geniza brought back from Egypt to Cambridge by Solomon Schechter in the late 19th century. Goitein realized that they unearthed information about a medieval society that defied all of the classic expectations regarding Jewish life in the Middle Ages. For him, Geniza society which dated from 950-1250, was a dynamic and surprisingly mobile conglomeration of Jews living in the Mediterranean.

Does Justice Have a Gender?


With our return to sovereignty our eyes look towards the legislating body, the Knesset. We demand to find a legal way to end the injustice suffered by the Hebrew woman for generations […] and to allow neither legal nor civil discrimination (Ada Maimon). Ada Maimon, 50 Years of Women’s Workers Movement 1904-1954, Tel Aviv 1956, pp. 218-219. Ada Fishman and her brother, Rabbi Yehuda Leib Fishman, changed their surname in 1949 to Maimon, used henceforth in this article.

Woman and Ritual: Bat-Mitzvah in Israel Curricula


How should a young Jewish Israeli girl celebrate her bat mitzvah? The answer to this question is clear to members of the Conservative and Reform movements. The young girl will celebrate the same way her brother does his bar mitzvah. She will learn the blessings for being called up to the Torah, and may also learn the cantillation marks for reading the haftarah and perhaps the Torah portion. She may write a bat mitzvah address to be given on the Shabbat morning when she is called up to the Torah, or at the party. The aliyah can be seen as a recapitulation of being present at the revelation at Mount Sinai, and by being called up to the Torah, the bat mitzvah, like the bar mitzvah, expresses her commitment to Jewish tradition and to the Jewish people.