After a Decade of Jewish Feminism The Jewry is Still Out

In 1972, a group of Jewish women petitioned the Conservative movement’s rabbis for equal access for women to Jewish religious experience, expression and education. This petition marked the beginning of the current Jewish feminist movement. Dr. Paula Hyman and Arlene Agus, founding members of that group, which called itself Ezrat Nashim, now hold professional positions in the Jewish educational establishment: Hyman is one of the highest-ranking women in a Jewish institution in the U.S.: Dean of the College of Jewish Studies of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and Associate Professor of History; and Agus is Director of External Affairs and Planning for the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law of Yeshiva University. Both women have been actively writing and lecturing on Jewish women’s issues for the past decade. Hyman is coauthor of The Jewish Woman in America, author o/From Dreyfus to Vichy: The Remaking of French Jewry 1906-1939, and co-editor of a volume on the Jewish family, to be published next year by Holmes and Meier. Agus, coordinator of the two national Jewish women’s conferences of 1973 and 1974, is the author of the landmark article on women’s use of Jewish tradition, “This Month Is for You: Observing Rosh Chodesh as a Women’s Holiday,” which appeared in the 1976 Schocken anthology, Jewish Women: New Perspectives; and is a founding board member of the Drisha Institute, an institution of higher learning for women.

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