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Mimi Arbeit, 26, Doctoral Student in Child Development

Her feminist-Jewish sex education

I started U.S.Y. (the Conservative movement’s Jewish youth group) in ninth grade, and I loved it. We danced, sang, debated, did social action projects and built a community together. At the same time, I started teaching workshops for gender violence prevention to eighth graders and learned to analyze the world through the lens of gender. I saw the harm done by sexist jokes and stereotypes tossed around in the school hallways.
I started hating that U.S.Y. presented such a strict gender binary. Boys were required to put on tallis and tefillin, for example, and for girls it was optional, which totally changes its meaning. U.S.Y. also had a focus on “nice Jewish girls” getting together with “nice Jewish boys,” which fueled homophobia.

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