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Tag : Steven M. Cohen

September 26, 2018 by

An Obsession with Sex and Statistics

An exposé in the New York Jewish Week chronicled the allegations by eight women in which they accused noted sociologist Steven M. Cohen of exploitative conduct. As historians of American Jews, we do know that these allegations reflect the troubling gender and sexual politics long embedded in communal discussions of Jewish continuity and survival, the focus of Cohen’s work….

The framework of Jewish continuity has become its own power structure, with employment opportunities and field leaders. And yet it is also a relatively closed power structure, isolated in many ways from the larger world of social scientific scholarship and from many facets of Jewish studies scholarship. Indeed, the most innovative qualitative research on intermarriage, which often challenges the assumption of a continuity crisis, has come from women scholars.

Yet in its isolation and its power, the apparatus of Jewish continuity has created an environment resistant to this criticism and tolerant of ongoing abuse. It’s time to acknowledge that a communal obsession with sex and statistics has created pernicious and damaging norms. These norms make it okay to tell women how to use their bodies, whom to marry, when to have babies, and how to allocate their time. They have also told people who fall outside of the parameters set primarily by men that their ways of being Jewish are not valued or valuable.. KATE ROSENBLATT, RONIT STAHL and LILA CORWIN BERMAN, “How Jewish Academia Created A #MeToo Disaster,” Forward, July 19, 2018.

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The Lilith Blog

August 7, 2018 by

When an Accused Sexual Harasser is an Academic Superstar

The news report that Steven M. Cohen, a luminary in Jewish sociology, is an alleged serial sexual harasser sickened me. New York Jewish Week broke this story that brought the #metoo movement to the heart of Jewish Studies. Cohen is currently a professor at Hebrew Union College, Jewish Institute of Religion in New York and has just voluntarily resigned his position as the director of the Berman Jewish Policy Archive at Stanford University; his work on contemporary Jews is widely known and supported not only by prestigious academic institutions but also by well-regarded Jewish communal networks.

Cohen’s sexual misconduct has apparently been part of his professional modus operandi for decades. He has not denied the multiple charges against him, which include touching women’s breasts in public, propositioning mentees for sex, and using sociological research as a screen for homophobic conduct.

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