Israeli Feminism Liberating Judaism: Blood and Ink

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9780739197622: Israeli Feminism Liberating Judaism: Blood and Ink
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This engaging feminist approach to Judaism blends the interpretation of primary Jewish sources with contemporary social change. Bonna Devora Haberman shares her first-hand account of the “Women of the Wall” and a feminist approach to traditional Judaism, while interacting with ancient Jewish texts. In a rich network of sources, seaming together scholarship with activism, Haberman analyzes the sacred, with attention to power and gender. While much religious and national culture focuses on death and sacrifice, Haberman proposes an alternative model for a Jewish theology of liberation: birth—no less universal than death. Life-giving rather than life-taking is the nucleus of this work, reformulating performances of gender in a realm of exaggerated sexual difference. Using her experiences with the “Women of the Wall” movement interwoven in scripture, Haberman contributes toward liberating religious culture from its gender oppressions, and rendering religion a liberating force in society.

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About the Author:


Bonna Devora Habermanhas taught at Harvard, Brandeis and Hebrew Universities.

Review:

Israeli Feminism Liberating Judaism: Blood and Ink offers readers a unique opportunity to learn about the group and its history from a core founder. Bonna Devora Haberman writes beautifully about her motivations and ideology, in part through the story of Women of the Wall and in part by drawing on the collective experiences of the Jewish people, and especially Jewish women, across time. These essays engage with a broad spectrum of religious theologians and secular philosophers to construct Haberman’s theology of equality for women, which is both relevant to understanding the events at the Western Wall as well as insightful and meaningful for the activist soul. Even more compelling, Haberman presents her writing using a technique that frequent readers of feminist academic literature will recognize and welcome. The narrative is flowing and surprising, and intensely personal. . . . Haberman moves expertly from the Biblical Exodus of Moses, Miriam, of Sarah and Joseph, culminating in a personal yet universal analysis of birthing and being. And—all the more so–the subsequent chapters are intensely personal as the author describes the stories of her children’s births. (Jewish Book Council)

Bonna Haberman has constructed an impressive theology of Israeli feminism. It reinterprets many of the texts frequently cited by zealots and chronicles the struggles of Women of the Wall for equal access to the holy site. It upholds the difference of women from men as well as their right to equality before the law. (Rachel Adler, Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion)

Bonna Haberman's book is a lyrical defense and history of Women of the Wall and a text and action based advocacy of women's equality in Judaism. The book is overflowing with learning and passion and should be read by all for whom Judaism, feminism, and religious practice are precious. (Aryeh Cohen, Ziegler School for Rabbinic Studies of the American Jewish University)

In this very personal work, Bonna Haberman seeks to cross the divide that would separate theological considerations from practical ones. For each oppressive reading of the tradition, Haberman counters with a spiritually inspired, upbeat counter reading. The story of Israeli society told herein is exemplary of a story which needs multiple recitations for other societies and religious traditions. Anyone picking up this book is sure to be illuminated by the shining light that emanates from the azure realms of Israel’s sapphire skies. (Harry Fox, University of Toronto)

Haberman applies similar concerns about religion and society as inspired the Christianity-focused Liberation Theology to Judaism, especially in Israel. Engaging feminist interpretation of Jewish sources with first-hand struggles of a 23 year-strong social change movement in Jerusalem, “Women of the Wall,” this book interrogates the interplay between civil and religious authority and contributes toward liberating religious culture from its gender oppressions, and toward rendering religion a liberating force in society.

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