by Aviva Cantor

The Sheltered Workshop

Many women who find their lives oppressive, their options limited and their horizons bleak join the major Jewish women’s volunteer organizations in a legitimate—but ultimately futile—search for help. They seek a feeling of self-worth, of self-validation, an opportunity to be effective, to gain recognition, to do meaningful and useful work, to be “someone” —all the things that patriarchal society has denied women—and to ward off depression, anxiety, loneliness and alienation—all the ills that patriarchal society has engendered in women.

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Volunteerism: The Great Debate

The articles in this special section:

The Volunteer Organizations

by Paula Hyman

In their early years, the major Jewish women’s organizations were not only revolutionary but responsive to Jewish women’s needs. How did the current "good works" come to mean ignoring women’s needs?

The Experience of Two Volunteers

by Pearl Water

A 31-year veteran of the National Council of Jewish women argues that the organization’s members are strong on social justice but "weak" in commitment to their own sex.

The Experience of Two Volunteers

by Betty Lieberman

A community activist with 27 years in Hadassah believes the organization’s leadership excludes its members from decision-making the way men traditionally excluded most women.

The Sheltered Workshop

by Aviva Cantor

The volunteer organizations are a ghetto where Jewish women are warehoused to safeguard the male monopoly on money, power and status.