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July 05, 1974 - Image 24

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1974-07-05

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Jewish Women Speak Out on Feminism and Status in Tradition

"Ms.," the magazine de-
voted to women, asks the
question in its July issue, "Is
It Kosher to Be Feminist?"
and to answer the question
chose three Jewish women,
one of them Orthodox.
Paula Hyman, formerly an
instructor of modern Jewish
history in the Teachers Insti-
tute of the Jewish Theologi-
cal Seminary, suggests that
"Judaism did not invent
sexism, but it has had 3,500
years in which to perpetuate
and legitimize sexist stereo-

types, for the weight of tra-
dition was paramount."
She states that the "dom-
inant theme in talmudic and
later rabbinic literature was
that no matter what their
'intellectual capacities, wo-
men are not to be educated
to the same level as men."
Likewise, in the area of re-
ligious responsibilities, mar-
riage and divorce, Ms. Hy-
man writes, women have
secondary status.
On the other hand, "there
was much in the historical

*

International Council Fails in Try
Toward Ending Bias to Women

LONDON — The Israeli
Chief Rabbinate failed to
satisfy the delegates of the
International Council for
Jewish Women, in their peti-
tion to overcome some of the
disabilities of Jewish women
under Jewish law.
The ICJW had hoped to
win a small concession from
Rabbi Shlomo Goren to al-
leviate hardship to women
within the framework of Or-
thodox Jewish law.
The delegates were Dr.
Rosa de Herczeg of Argen-
tina, president of the ICJW;
Mrs. Pnina Herzog, president
of the Jewish Women's Or-
ganization in Israel; Mme.
Rachel Huebner, deputy di-
rector-general of the Israeli
Ministry of the Interior; and
Mrs. Ruth Winston-Fox, a
former mayor of Southgate

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in North London and chair-
man of the committee for
the status of women in Jew-
ish Law.
For 30 years, the ICJW
has been pressing for a
rabbinical assembly to ease
the burden of women in such
matters as get (divorce),
halitza (obligation for a
childless widow to obtain the
consent of the dead hus;
band's brother before she
can remarry), aguna (the
woman whose husband can
only be presumed but not
proved to be dead and who
therefore is not free to re-
marry), polygamy and in-
heritance.
The ICJW, which failed to
have its 1969 petition recog-
nized by Israel's previous
chief rabbis (even though
more than 1,000,000 Jewish
women were represented by
the signatures on the peti-
tion), tried a new tack this
year.
At a midterm executive
and training seminar for
women's leadership in Jeru-
salem, the JCJW prepared an
addendum to the 1969 peti-
tion. It put forward two ob-
jectives, one to give more
publicity to the rabbinate's
work to solve current prob-
lems, and the other to create
a social services scheme in
26 countries where the ICJW
has affiliates. The council
would use its members to act
as social workers in follow-
up cases. This would include
tracing missing partners in
a divorce case, where one
side does not reply to the
beth din's summons to re-
ceive the bill of divorcement.

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Abe Cherow, Says

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OF PEOPLE WHO AREN'T
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experience that enabled the
Jewish woman to develop
her human capabilities. The
mother who emerged from
the shtetls of Eastern Eu-
rope, for example, was hard-
ly a fragile, helpless and re-
tiring female. Such 'fem-
inine' characteristics could
not be indulged when a
woman's strength was neces-
sary to sustain her family in
an environment that was
often hostile."
Jewish culture, she says,
a 1 s o denigrated physical
prowess and "thus 'allowed'
men to be gentle and emo-
tional and women to be
strong 'and capable."
The stereotyped J e wish
mother (Sophie Portnoy) is a
product of male Jewish
literati and comedians, says
Ms. 'Hyman. "The sex-role
characteristics which Eastern
European Jewish culture had
fostered and admired be-
cause they served to main-
tain a stable family life in
the midst of poverty and
persecution were found un-
acceptable in mid-20th Cen-
tury America.
She notes that while the
Orthodox community h a s
barely felt the winds of
change, many traditional dis-
abilities are being removed
within the Conservative and
Reform movements.
Bracha Sacks, a graduate
of Stern College (Orthodox)
who attends the Brooklyn
College • Graduate School of
Education, argues that Juda-
ism is very flexible, "once
the proper Jewish atmos-
phere is provided by both
parents."
"Now that we have more
time to devote to learning,
we can study Talmud as men

do," writes Mrs. Sacks. "We
can become scholars and
teachers, write books on
Torah and fit into Jewish in-
tellectual life. However, we
must build schools for our
daughters that measure up
to those for our sons. Educa-
tion for the scholarly life
must not pre-empt the im-
portance of having a family,
for women and men."
Mrs,. Sacks adds: "Al-
though some customs based
on sociology, not law, remain
resistant to change—methods
of educating women, for ex-
ample — I feel constructive
work from Jewish women
would be the best way to
accomplish such things. As
for Jewish law itself, I find
that women are accepted and
respected physically and in-
tellectually."
Expressing her "V i e w
From the Back of the Shul,"
syndicated newspaper col-
umnist Audrey Gellis recalls
her own experience, watch-
ing her family fuss over her
brother while minimizing her
own talents; watching her
mother prepare for the Pass-
over, working "harder than
any Pharaoh's slave," only
to spend most of the meal-
time in the kitchen, serving
everyone.
Resentful of the "Jewish
American Princess" stereo-
type, she says the gibe she
most dislikes is that against
the Jewish Mother: "Who
was it but the Jewish
mothers, like my grand-
mother, who were respon-
sible for their sons' rise in
one generation from the
ghettos of New York's Lower
East Side to the affluence
of New York's Upper East
Side? My mother's mother
risked her life to save her

children from a pogrom,
brought them halfway around
the world to safety, and
denied herself every worldly
comfort so her son could be-
come a doctor. She now lives
alone in Miami and sits by
a silent telephone."

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Thursday at the Workmen's
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Women, s Ulub

PRIMROSE BENEVOLENT
CLUB will celebrate its 43rd
anniversary with a dinner--
dance 6:30 p.m. Sunday at
the Labor Zionist Institute.
Mrs. Helen Greenberg is
chairman of the event. For
reservations, call Mrs. Flor-
ence Verona, 557-3681.
* 4 *
OAK PARK NSHEI CHA-
BAD STUDY GROUP which
was to meet Saturday at the
home of Mrs. Shlomo Ro-
thenberg has been cancelled.
* * *
OAK PARK NSHEI CHA-
BAD STUDY GROUP (Nine
Mile Area) will meet 4 p.m.
Saturday at Cong. Mishkan
Israel. Mrs. Beryl Shemtov
will be the hostess.
* * .*
SHARONA CHAPTER, Pi-
oneer Women, will have a
poolside luncheon honoring
Molly Silberschein Katz on
her recent marriage noon
Tuesday at the home of Rose
Roth, 17031 Jeanette, South-
field. In case of bad weather,
the party will be held noon
Wednesday. For reservations,
call Mrs. Harry Roth, 557-
8284.
* * *
GOLDA MEIR CHAPTER,
Pioneer Women, will hold its
yearly Israeli shower lunch-
eon noon Monday, at the
home of Mrs. Gerald Brody,
13400 Northfield, Oak Park.
An Israeli movie will be

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
24—Friday, July 5, 1974

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• Packages mailed anywhere in the United States

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