This week on Behind the Headlines, pioneering Orthodox feminist Blu Greenberg gives a video interview about wrestling between faith and faith in womankind.
This special Women’s History Month episode is already live for Times of Israel Community members, but it’s not too late to join ToI Community now and access this week’s segment, along with past episodes and the rest of our wide-ranging library of exclusive content.
Greenberg, who is married to Rabbi Yitz Greenberg, is an American writer specializing in modern Judaism and women’s issues. She is well known for her books “On Women and Judaism: A View from Tradition,” “How to Run a Traditional Jewish Household,” and “Black Bread: Poems, After the Holocaust.”
She gave the opening address at the first National Jewish Women’s Conference in 1973; she chaired the first and second International Conference on Feminism and Orthodoxy; and she is the founder and first president of JOFA, the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance. In 2000, she received the Woman Who Made a Difference award from the American Jewish Congress Commission for Women’s Equality.
Greenberg speaks with The Times of Israel’s deputy blogs editor Anne Gordon, who also hosts the Talking Talmud podcast on daf yomi and The Chochmat Nashim Podcast, which speaks from inside the Jewish community about respect for tradition, and the need for justice.
The two discuss how Greenberg got her “serendipitous” start on this journey toward Orthodox feminism and how not everything in secular feminism aligns with Orthodoxy/religion. Greenberg identifies six areas of change for female access in Orthodoxy: learning (Torah); leadership (rabbinical degrees, programs, titles, credentials); life cycle ceremonies (bat mitzvah, simhat bat); liturgy (tefillah – communal and individual); legal testimony (as witnesses); and officiating in legal roles, and divorce and agunot, or chained women.
Orthodox feminists have their plate full with internal issues, said Greenberg, but they should also be involved in global issues, such as the suffering of women around the world from abuse or poverty.
And finally, Greenberg answers the question of what she would do differently if she were “coming of age” now, in 2021.
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