Page 108 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 35

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
what ways will the rising consciousness of Jewish women—from
every point along the religious spectrum—push Judaism onto a
new plane? Answers must be sought from every area and per­
spective: from halakhah, history, community status, spiritual­
ity and education.
Concomitant with the growing community sensitivity, several
books have been published during the last decade, most of them
within the last two to three years.
The Jewish Woman: New
Perspectives
(Elizabeth Koltun, editor, New York; Schocken,
1976), an anthology, is the most sophisticated attempt thus
far to deal with the central issues of Jewish feminism: what does
it mean to live with a dual commitment to feminism and to
Jewish tradition and Jewish survival? How can women integrate
the ideals of feminism into their lives as Jews? What are the
emergent forms that an eternal Judaism will have to incorporate
to allow women a fuller expression of their human and Jewish
potential?
The anthology offers a wide range of answers to these ques­
tions. Each contributor writes from a different perspective. There
are articles which explore the theoretical relationship between
Judaism and feminism. There are many papers which deal with
the practical expression of women in ritual. There is an excellent
section on rites of passage and new rituals for women—at the
birth of a daughter, bat mitzvah, marriage, menstruation, the
laws of niddah. There is a creative article on the celebration of
Rosh Hodesh as a woman’s holiday, reclaiming that tradition
which existed during some part of our past history.
Though the quality is a little uneven, there is no single
article in the entire anthology that is not worth reading. Many
of the articles could serve as a core idea for a complete book
in itself.
A second anthology is
Sisters in Exile: Sources on the Jewish
Women
(New York: Habonim, 1973). It contains primary
sources about exemplary Jewish women from biblical through
contemporary times, including letters and writings from the
women themselves. There are also sources from biblical and
rabbinic law concerning women. Several selections deal with
the woman’s role in rebuilding Israel, and three articles written
by kibbutzniks explore the role of women in the kibbutz. The