Have you seen my review of Miriam Kosman’s new book about Jewish feminism in this week’s Jewish Home L.A.?

This week’s Jewish Home L.A. contains my review of Circle, Arrow, Spiral: Exploring Gender in Judaismrecently published by Mekor Press and distributed by Menucha Publishers. 

Jewish book on feminism

Miriam Kosman’s outstanding new book about gender within Judaism

Miriam Kosman‘s new book appears at a pivotal point in Jewish history. The role of women in Judaism has dominated the headlines of Jewish media outlets in recent years. Usually, Hareidim are made out to be the bad guys: according to most writers, Hareidi men bully women, look down on us, and short change us in any way humanly possible.

For someone like me — a feminist who willingly joined the ranks of those observant Jews who lean to the right — this kind of “news” makes us want to bang our heads into the wall in frustration. Not only do we perceive the Jewish world differently, many of us chose Orthodoxy in some part because mainstream feminism had failed us. Frankly, we felt more supported and appreciated as human beings, as Jews, and as women within our new community than we did in in our former, non-Orthodox world. We feel respected by the vast majority of Hareidi men, including by our husbands, sons, and rabbis. And while we do see plenty of areas in which our community can and should improve, many of the issues targeted by reporters and crusaders hold completely different meanings for us than for secular people.

Many of the recent books about Judaism written by Modern Orthodox authors have compounded the problem. They report on our world as outsiders (sometimes trumpeting all along how because they are, loosely-speaking, “Orthodox” they therefore have an insider view), and often articulate outrage while playing fast and loose with facts. Yet, until now, few books for the English speaking world have expressed the genuine insider perspective as to why Orthodox women don’t participate in many time-bound positive commandments, are excluded from certain communal rules, and so on. 

Miriam Kosman‘s new book remedies that. Continue reading

The new Tablet story my editor is afraid I’m going to get hate mail for

My newest piece is up on Tablet. When I submitted the pitch several months ago to the Life and Religion editor, Wayne Hoffman, he cautioned me: do you really want to do this?

The topic of the essay is a controversial one in the Jewish community — women wearing Tefillin — and he was afraid I’d get a lot of trolls. And probably some genuine hate mail, to boot.

My original proposal was a much wider topic — the denigration of traditional feminine roles by many “feminists” in the Jewish community. I shot off the query letter in a fit of pique after yet another feminist looked down her nose at my lifestyle and basically told me I was so persecuted I didn’t know that I was persecuted.

The first draft was a mess: too big, too venting, too…too…everything.

I have to really give credit to the very special Mr. Hoffman, who asked the right questions and nudged me in the right direction until I could be proud of the resulting essay. We cut most of the first draft, and narrowed the topic considerably, then tried to focus on the positive aspects of the story.

Anyway, I hope you check the essay out and share and comment and all that.