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October 07, 1994 - Image 60

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-10-07

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

4 111111101111111111111111111111111111111111111110-

The Leo M. Franklin Lecture
in Ethics and Human Relations

presents

Rabbi Sherwin T. Wine

Birmingham Temple

"Humanism and
Human Relations"

and featuring
respondents:

Rabbi Aaron Bergman

Congregation Beth Abraham illel Moses

Professor Yates Hafner

Associate Chair, English Dept. WSU

McGregor Memorial Conference Center

Wednesday, October 12, 1994

4:00 p.m.-5:30 p.m.

The public is invited.
Admission is free and a question-and-answer
session will follow.

Supported by a grant from the
Rabbi Leo M. Franklin Memorial Fund
of Temple Beth El
and sponsored by the

r
E

ENTER.

DEMIC

THICS

Ver

Wayne State University

For more information, call
Arthur Brown, Director

Free Parking

C/D

w

Cf)

w

CC

w

60

(313) 577-8290

said. "Rather than fall into
traditional roles (mother, care-
taker, etc.) Reform women are
creating women's ceremonies,
such as rosh chodesh (a cele-
bration at the beginning of
every Hebrew month). New
liturgies are being written. It's
not an attempt to recreate a tra-
ditional practice but an attempt
to create a role for women in
practice."
Perhaps one difference be-
tween Reform Jews and Or-
thodox Jews in their view of
feminism is one of direction and
focus. Sara Silberberg, who is
Orthodox, believes that positive
change comes about from the
inside out, while many femi-
nists, she contends, want to
change society before they
change themselves.
"Feminism should be an
appreciation for being a woman
in performing the roles of
motherhood, homemaking and
childbearing," said Ms. Silber-
berg, mother of 10 children.
"What I see as feminism is
women acting like men. We
should see that both roles of
men and women are different
but equally important."
At one time, attorney Laurel
Stuart-Fink was in the front
lines of feminism. Not any
more. "I was saying, 'Let's
change the power structure,' "
she said. "But now I see that
kind of secular doctrinism as
trying to put a Band-Aid on
what's wrong with how people
live together."
Despite her initial impression
that Orthodox women were
oppressed, Ms. Stuart-Fink
made a spiritual migration from
Reform to Orthodox. "The Or-
thodox community is a great
place to be a feminist," she said.
"My role in the community is
defined by Torah, not by my
physical attributes or any fleet-
ing standards set by culture or
the media. I no longer see it as
men versus women. I see it as
people struggling to get back to
Torah observance. And I've
learned, once you get there,
things get pretty clear."
Because the term feminism
raises such a range of attitudes
and emotions, perhaps a new
term should be offered. The
broader application of feminism
could be thought of as "libera-
tion politics," said Anca Vla-
sopolos, associate professor of
English and a feminist schol-
ar at Wayne State.
Ms. Vlasopolos and her
mother migrated from Roma-
nia in 1962. Most of her ex-
tended family resides in Israel.

Although she grew up in a "non-
religious atmosphere," she
noted that she practices Ju-
daism "as an ethnic tradition
rather than a religion." Accord-
ing to Ms. Vlasopolos, being
a Jew and a feminist have
natural similarities.
"My awareness of oppression
as a Jew has certainly prepared
me for the oppression I've in-
curred as a woman," she said.
"They can characterize femi-
nism whatever way they want,
the power still resides with
white Anglo-Saxon males,
worldwide."
Growing up in a communist
system that was theoretically
supposed to provide equal
access to everyone, Ms. Vla-
sopolos saw the inherent con-
tradictions of the socialist state.
Yet during her teaching career,
she's also observed many in-
herent contradictions in an
American society where equal-
ity is the ideal, yet women must

The reliance on the ERA,
which failed in 1983 to gain ap-
proval of two-thirds of the coun-
try's state legislatures, might
have contributed to a too nar-
row focus for social change, Ms.
VanBerkleo said.
"(Feminists) need to focus
more on fundamental cultural
change. We need to figure out
our common goal, once again,
and especially what we mean
by equal rights."
In fact, a recent New York
Times/CBS News poll of teen-
agers found 86 percent of girls
expected to work after mar-
riage; 7 percent said they want
to stay at home. Only 19 per-
cent of the boys expected their
future wives to stay at home,
while nearly 60 percent ex-
pected their wives to work. (
More and more, egalitarian
marriages have become the
norm, not the exception.
The road leading to change
stretches from orthodox to

C M y awareness

of oppression as a Jew has certainly

prepared me for the oppression

I've incurred as a woman.

struggle continually against
sexual harassment and for
equal pay for equal work.
"There's lots of types of
feminism," Ms. Vlasopolos said.
"People have different ideas
and different emphasis and
there are different origins. The
only thing I find to be critical
of American feminism is the
impulse to forget about those
who have advanced the causes
of women who came before us."

istorian Ms. Van-
Berkleo sees strong
similarities be-
tween the place of
the current movement and the
post-Suffragette days of the ear-
ly 1920s. Four years after win-
ning the ballot in 1919, the
Equal Rights Amendment
(ERA) was introduced. And, for
the next 60 years, the struggle
to amend the U.S. Constitution
became the driving focus of
many feminists. Ironically, the
ERA campaign may have hin-
dered the women's movement
from having broader influence
in the last six decades.

secular poles. Yet the direction
inevitably marches along with
history.
Ms. King, of MARL, believes
"that you can't be a good femi-
nist unless you're willing to take
action for women." While, Ms.
Stuart-King, once on the femi-
nist front line, has chosen a less
confrontational path.
Yet few women would prob-
ab y argue with the feminist
ideal articulated by Ms.
Gleicher: "A feminist says that
I am the one who will have the
power to make the choice in my
life, the power to control my
destiny."
There has been progress.
Today, two women sit on the
U.S. Supreme Court, a women
heads the Justice Department,
and trends indicate more
women in leadership positions
— from elective office to the
board room.
"Feminism is a great mosaic,"
said Ms. Jeffrey. "It has many
beautiful pieces that you need
to put together to see the whole
picture."
It's not a time for tears. ❑

(

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