MES 325 • WOMEN AND JEWISH LAW (HALAKHAH) IN ISRAEL
1:00 PM-2:00 PM
Women and Jewish Law (Halakhah) in Israel Being a western democracy, Israeli women enjoy full civil rights. However, since Jewish law (halakhah) in its Orthodox interpretation influences numerous aspects of public life in Israel, women in modern Israel are confronted with many challenges. Moreover, the women forced to deal most often with these difficulties are religious women who wish to follow halakhic commandments on the one hand, but also to work, vote, control their personal status and live their lives as they choose. Using secondary English sources, as well as translations from Hebrew texts, this course will examine a number of these challenges and analyze the ways in which halakhah is reconciled with the lives, wants and needs of modern Israeli women - religious as well as secular. During classes we will discuss issues such as the influence of halakhah on the realization of universal suffrage in Israel; the willingness of the state to intervene against religiously-inspired discrimination against women; the participation of women in state-sponsored religious administrative and regulatory bodies; the ramifications of religious authority on women's mandatory military service. In considering all of these issues the attitudes and actions of women themselves will be emphasized.
Three written assignments (10% each), final exam (70%).
Ross, Tamar. Expanding the Palace of Torah (2004).
Shakdiel, Leah. "Women of the Wall: Radical Feminism as an opportunity for New
Discourse in Israel, Journal of Israeli History, 21:1 (2002).
Rimalt, Noya. "When a Feminist Struggle Becomes a Symbol of the Agenda as a Whole: The Example of Women in the Military," Nashim 6 (2003).
Kook, Abraham Ha-Kohen & BenZion Meir Uziel, "Two Public Letters of Rav Abraham Ha-Kohen Kook & The Responsum of Rav BenZion Uziel On Women's Suffrage,"
Edah 1(2), online edition