May 23, 2022

Women’s Daf Yomi: Gender and Talmud Study in Digital Space

By Adam Ferziger

New Year’s Day 2020 saw a crowd of over 90,000 assemble in freezing temperatures at New Jersey’s Metlife Stadium. Rather than the usual football game, they had come for the Siyum ha-Shas of Daf yomi, the ritual “completion” ceremony celebrating study of all 2,711 folios of the Talmud (Shas) over the course of a 7.5-year daily regimen. The nearly five-hour convocation included public prayers, speeches by eminent rabbinical authorities, musical performances, and inspirational films. It culminated with a collective recitation of the final passages of the massive, multi-volumed ancient tome, followed by raucous dancing. Scores of parallel events – some filling arenas and auditoriums and others modest local gatherings in synagogues, study halls and private homes – took place on five other continents. Thousands more joined the Metlife celebrants and other large-scale venues via livestream as well.

Talmud text on a phone.The daf yomi (literally daily page) multi-year Talmud-study cycle was conceived nearly a century earlier as a means to unify Jews worldwide through a common consistent encounter with the foundational text of rabbinic Judaism. Participation has grown dramatically in recent decades. Since its inception, the overwhelming majority of participants were Orthodox men. While this remains the case, the 2020 festivities marked a watershed when over 3,000 attendees congregated in Jerusalem’s Binyanei ha-Umah Auditorium for the inaugural “Women’s Siyum Shas.”

The women’s event was spearheaded by Hadran, an Israel-based organization established in 2018 and led by Michelle Cohen Farber, a veteran immigrant from America and religious educator who has been teaching daf yomi since 2013 at her home in Ra’anana, a suburban town north of Tel Aviv. To celebrate the daf yomi milestone, Hadran brought together a coalition of women’s learning groups from Israel and around the globe, along with an array of institutions and individuals that are at the forefront of advanced Talmud study for women – thousands in person and more via livestream. The evening’s format shared much in common with the Metlife one, but it was orchestrated and led by women, as were over 90 percent of those who joined.

My investigation engages that which unfolded from the conspicuous January 2020 moment onwards, its meaning in the context of contemporary Orthodox Judaism’s enduring struggles over the religious standing of women, and the agency of digital technology in this process.

Such siyum festivities, be they the established men’s ones or newly devised women’s gatherings, are intended to acknowledge the achievements of those who withstood the rigorous day-to-day challenge for over seven years. No less, they are aimed to inspire others to join in the next round. In fact, the new daf yomi cycle that began immediately after has witnessed further expansion in numbers. The signature engines for this growth have been inventive online platforms, apps, and tools that provide comfortable access to live and taped classes, study aids, and supplementary materials. Ironically, these innovations achieved critical value within weeks after the new cycle began, when due to Covid-19 restrictions, face-to-face classes became impossible. Indeed, the move of the main Hadran class from an in-person class setting to a live digital format, has increased participation exponentially. I contend that the emergence of the women’s daf yomi trend marks a pivotal juncture in the history of Orthodox Jewish feminism, a movement that arose in the 1970s and has since become a central source of both renewal and contention. 

Hadran’s stated goal is “to make Talmud study accessible to Jewish women at all levels…in a unique way: by providing a wide range of resources…in the voice of women teachers.” After in-person meetings became impossible, Farber began to teach her daf yomi class twice each morning via Zoom, once in Hebrew at 6:15 AM, and a second time in English at 7:15 AM. These were broadcast live via the Hadran website, as well as Facebook and YouTube. In the process, the live digital platform became Hadran’s core framework. This central live online study session facilitated a novel type of collective daily learning experience; it brought together women (and some men) just starting their day in Israel, Asia, Africa, or Europe, with others ending theirs – whether the previous one in North or South America, or the parallel one in Australia or New Zealand.

In a January 2021 interview, Farber described why she felt that her classes would fill an existing gap, and how she designed her method with this in mind:

When I went online to see some examples of how people taught a whole daf in 45 minutes, I was surprised to find hundreds of daf yomi shiurim by men but none by women. When listening to the shiurim, it was clear that the average woman who comes with little or no gemara background would have a hard time learning with one of those shiurim, not because they can’t learn from a man, but because most of the rabbis teaching assumed the listener had a certain comfort level with basic words and concepts. In addition, the questions that they asked on the gemara or issues they delved into were not necessarily the issues that the women would be interested in pursuing. Also, when a sensitive women’s issue arises, many gloss right over it and move on. It was then that I decided that I would record my classes and put them online to be able to offer a class that could appeal to the broader female audience.

As of November 2021, according to statistics provided by the organization, there were 1,600 daily listeners to her class, and an additional 2,500-5,000 individual downloads of tractates that were already completed.

Hadran home pageOnce they arrived at the Hadran website, a variety of presentations and links were available under the rubric of “Beyond the Daf,” where the female-centric quality of the platform is celebrated. One prominent Hebrew offering is a video blog entitled “Daf mi-she-la-hen” [a page of their own]. It features Rabbanit Hamutal Shoval, a former journalist who holds a master’s degree in new media and teaches advanced Talmud to women, and Rabbanit Shira Marili Mirvis, the first woman to be appointed as the main religious authority in an Israeli Orthodox synagogue. The conversations often gravitate to gendered aspects of the pages studied that week, including exploring how the patriarchy of Talmudic times continues to set the tone for many aspects of Jewish life. As Orthodox Jews, the presenters are committed to traditional Jewish practice and law, but they also acknowledge the many challenges they face as twenty-first century women who have been brought up to assume their rights to full participation in society.

When possible, Farber has further nurtured Hadran women’s network by taking periodic trips throughout North America where she addresses audiences in person, including visits to local women’s daf yomi groups and their supporters. That these women are part and parcel of a global kinship, is emphasized through another component of the website entitled, “Hadran Communities.” Listed there with clickable links are the names of 19 affiliated branches in Israel and 26  around the world. Some of these women meet daily – in person or virtually, while in other cases the local group complements daily study with Farber through private WhatsApp and Facebook discussions in which members present their own perspectives or relevant materials. 

The dedications that are read at the beginning of each session and appear on the digital apparatuses, offer an additional lens for discerning the “reception” of Hadran. They echo the sense that women identify with the gendered foundations of the endeavor. A listing in memory of a woman’s mother, shared a sharp articulation, “As a young girl, she begged her father to teach her Gemara [Talmud] so she could expand her knowledge. She would have loved to know that her daughter and daughter-in-law are pursuing that path.”

The gender egalitarian consensus of the Reform and Conservative movements would seemingly render obsolete the attraction of a predominantly all-women’s setting. Yet, based on direct communications from Hadran site users, 15-20% did not identify as Orthodox. Why do non-Orthodox Jews gravitate to Hadran? Numerous participants expressed that as opposed to most of the other existing online daf yomi options that were Haredi-oriented, they were attracted to Farber’s “non-yeshivish” style. Furthermore, quite a few correspondents disclosed that they began their daf yomi experiences listening to other lecturers but were frustrated by the lack of sensitivity to women’s issues. This dovetails with the comments of a few men who study regularly with male teachers but revealed that when the Talmud addresses gender-related topics, they make a point of turning to Hadran in order to gain exposure to Farber’s perspective. On a pragmatic level, moreover, even if there are many daf yomi portals, none are categorically non-Orthodox. Under such circumstances, Farber’s teaching and Hadran’s overall tenor resonate to Jews who have internalized an egalitarian Jewish approach.

Head shot of Adam FerzigerAdam S. Ferziger is professor in the Department of Jewish History and Contemporary Jewry at Bar-Ilan University, Israel and holds the Rabbi S.R. Hirsch Chair for Research on the Torah and Derekh Erez Movement. He is a senior associate at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, University of Oxford and co-convener of the Oxford Summer Institute on Modern and Contemporary Judaism. He is a 2021 HBI Scholar in Residence. 

HBI Gives 14 Research Awards

HBI Gives 14 Research Awards 

By Amy Powell

When the pandemic hit, frequent research collaborators Elly Teman and Zsuzsa Berend, already accustomed to working on Zoom and across multiple time zones, decided to have some fun with their research.  

head shot of Elly Teman wearing a floral top.

Elly Teman

“We were both going a little bit crazy, me with my kids and Zsuzsa with the Zooms, and we decided to translate our ethnographic research into something visual,” Teman said.” We wanted to do something that would be shared with more than other scholars.”

Teman, at Ruppin Academic Center in Israel, and Berend at University of California, Los Angeles applied to HBI for a Research

Zsuzsa Berend head shot, wearing green tank shirt. g

Zsuzsa Berend

Award to create  A Tale of Two Surrogates: A Graphic Novel of Surrogacy in Israel and the US. The graphic novel will tell the stories of Dana in Israel and Jenn in the US, who both contract to carry babies for infertile intended parents highlighting the detailed regulatory context and largely standardized contractual arrangements in Israel and the deregulated arrangements in the US where surrogates negotiate provisions with infertile parents and lawyers directly. It will be rooted in data and research. 

Their award is dedicated to the memory of Frances Leder Kornmehl. 

Frances Leder Kornmehl
Mrs. Frances Leder Kornmehl was born in 1925 in Tarnow, Poland, the youngest of five children. In 1941, Tarnow was liquidated and, once living in the ghetto, it was her role to smuggle food hidden in her clothes to sustain her family. In 1943, 18-year-old Frances was deported to Krakow-Plaszow Concentration Camp. From there, she was sent to Auschwitz, and in a miraculous turn of events, was saved from the gas chambers. After the liberation, she returned to Tarnow where she learned that she was the only remaining member of her family. She met her husband, Nathan Kornmehl, in a displaced persons camp in Germany, and subsequently they emigrated to the US. Family, education, and her faith were the most important elements in Frances’ life; her table was always lively with her husband, her five children, and her childrens’ neighborhood friends. Frances always maintained her faith, optimism, and a sense of wonder that she expressed creatively in the poetry she wrote and published. Frances took great pride that her five children achieved higher education, built family lives, and had children of their own- surrounding her with nine grandchildren to carry on her family’s legacy.

Teman and Berend were one of the 14 recipients of  HBI’s 2022 Research Awards  totalling $49,000. These awards are given annually for work that incorporates HBI’s mission to support research at the intersection of Jewish studies and gender studies. Recipients range from historians and anthropologists to artists to poets, and across geographic boundaries, this year encompassing the US, Canada, Israel and Poland. All the titles and recipients can be found here

To select the recipients of  these competitive annual research awards, HBI relies on the expertise of an Academic Advisory Committee, comprised of 188 experts and academics from around the world. Final decisions are made by the HBI Academic Awards Decision Committee, this year comprised of Dr. Elisheva Baumgarten of Hebrew University, Dr. Deidre Butler of Carleton University, Dr. Debra Kaufman of Northeastern University, Dr. Pnina Lahav of Boston University, Dr. Ilana Szobel of Brandeis University and Dr. Lisa Fishbayn Joffe, The Shulamit Reinharz Director of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute .  

“HBI’s mission is to support new research in Jewish gender studies across a range of academic disciplines,” Joffe said.  “We are so grateful for the time and care our colleagues around the world devote to evaluating proposals so that we can identify and fund the most important and impactful new research. This year’s roster of recipients represents exciting new work from across the field of Jewish women’s and gender studies.”

HBI’s Research Awards are part of a broader program at HBI to support scholars in the field at every stage of their career, a value exemplified by Teman:  She was one of HBI’s first summer interns in 2002. Other recipients this year include The Criminalization of Get Refusal, a project by Hadas Raichelson of Bar-Ilan University that  looks at several developments in Israeli criminal law regarding the prohibition of Jewish divorce refusal including discussion on the appropriateness of imposing criminal responsibility on recalcitrant spouses in light of theories of criminalization, the aspects of family law, and the feminist critique of law. The award is funded by the HBI Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law which recently hosted an international workshop on this emerging topic, Using New Criminal Laws Against Coercive Control to Combat Get Abuse: Lessons from the Field.

In Medicalizing Ritual Life Among Judeo-Spanish Communities: Women, Religion and Health in the Late Ottoman Empire and Beyond (1870-1940) Anabella Esperanza of Hebrew University of Jerusalem explores the interconnected history of health and ritual, bringing together methodologies of Jewish studies, medical history, and gender analysis, while at the same time using a regional and comparative approach. This award is dedicated in memory of Dr. Harris A. Berman. 

Dr. Harris A. Berman
Dr. Harris Alan Berman was dean emeritus of the Tufts University School of Medicine and a pioneer in the field of managed care. From 1965 to 1967, he served in the Peace Corps in India. He came away with a strong interest in infectious diseases and a belief in the importance of public health and preventative care. In 1977, he co-founded the Matthew Thornton Health Plan, one of the first staff-model health maintenance organizations in the country, and in 1986 became chief executive officer of Tufts Health Plan. In 2003, he retired as CEO and joined Tufts University as chairman of the department of public health and community medicine and dean of public health and professional degree programs. He was named interim dean of the medical school in 2000 and served as dean from 2011.

Laura Leibman head shot, wearing turquoise blouse, navy jacketHBI also offers opportunities for award recipients to share the fruits of their research. As part of the HBI Sandra Seltzer Silberman Conversations Series, Dr. Laura Arnold Leibman shared her award-winning new book  When We Were Slaves: The Extraordinary Journey of a Multiracial Jewish Family which was supported by an HBI Research award. In her remarks, Dr. Leibman noted that it was this early support that allowed her to explore archives to uncover the life story of Rebecca Brandon, whose story became one the centerpieces of her book. 

Judy Batalion received three HBI Research Awards over several years for translation of the Yiddish memoir, Freuen in di Ghettos, which turned into her bestselling novel, The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler’s Ghettos. It is currently being made into a movie by Steven Spielberg. Dr. Batalion credited HBI for being there in the beginning to value work by women, about

Judy Batalion headshot, wearing glasses

Judy Batalion

women, all leading to research on the Holocaust that had not been widely known. 

“Categorically, there is no way this book would exist without your support at HBI. Your support was 100 percent necessary for the development of this project and of all my work the past 14 years,” said Batalion.

Learn more about HBI Research Awards. To discuss opportunities to name a research award, contact Amy Powell

Amy Powell is the assistant director of HBI. 

Uncovering What’s Been Lost

By Terri Brown Preuss

Like Blanche Moses in 1942, the scion of one of the oldest American Jewish families in Dr. Laura Arnold Leibman’s Once We Were Slaves, the magnificently researched groundbreaking work featured in the February Sandra Seltzer Silberman HBI Conversations Series, I too am an obsessive amateur family genealogist. Unlike Blanche, whose goal was to preserve the grandeur and history of her family,  my passion stems from the desire to uncover what’s been lost to time and distance – and nothing so far shows any grandeur.

In March, I will happily mark my five-year anniversary with the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute. As I contemplate this milestone, I see a strong parallel between my passion for genealogy and my passion for the mission of HBI. Just as I was honored and humbled to discover and connect with my father’s second cousin whose parents’ entire families were murdered in Poland in 1942, I am also honored and humbled to spend my time and skills supporting and promoting research and programs that uncover the unrevealed lives of Jewish women around the world.

As an amateur genealogist, I search through thousands of documents to find the next great-grandparent. As I do,  people’s lives pass before my eyes, often with only the barest of details. However, here is the key: there are important facts to learn when one looks closely. From the United States census andArticle image from June 8, 1934 Boston Globe immigration documents, I see a rag salesman, a grocer, and a relative who, tragically, remained back in the old country. From the newspaper clippings, I see my beloved great-aunt asserting her right to live in peace as seen in this astounding and inappropriately tongue-in-cheek 1932 Boston Globe article “Mrs. Liberty To Plead For Freedom In Court.” And, from the survivors’ testimonies at Yad Vashem: I see cousins’ lives ending in despair and pain, but the testimonies shout to the world that their loved ones did in fact live. 

It’s much the same with Jewish history. We know the barest of details about Jewish women’s lives throughout history and so we must look – and look closely – with a gender lens. This is important not only to learn about Jewish women themselves but to apply a gender lens to research reveals crucial yet unknown information. We see this in Judy Batalion’s The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler’s Ghettos, a work supported in its early stage by two HBI Awards and featured in this year’s Sandra Seltzer Silberman HBI Conversations Series. 

In applying a gender lens to the Jewish resistance movement in Poland in the 1930s, Judy Batalions’s The Light of Days revealed indispensable and previously unknown information about Jewish women’s selfless and courageous actions resisting Hitler’s Final Solution. While most of the women and men perished, we now know that the resistance was strong, active, and well organized. 

Of course, there are the exceptions – women who much has been written about, like Golda Meir. For the most part, these women are written about mainly because they are an exception. There is also the brave Hannah Senesh, who we now know from Judy Batalion’s research and writing was given broad focus – though not undeserved – not only due to her bravery but to her beauty and acceptable place in the evolving narrative of the growth of Israel from the ashes of Europe. 

copy of a passenger manifest with a magnifying glassBut there were others. Many others. Through HBI Research Awards given to authors including Judy Batalion and Laura Arnold Leibman, we now know that in 1943 Renia Kukiela passed as a Polish Catholic to work as a courier, spiriting people, munitions and more to and from the supposedly sealed ghettos of Europe, and how Sarah Brandon Moses, born Christian and enslaved in the early 1800s in Barbados, applied the the era’s workings of racial shift to move her family into freedom and the Jewish community for generations to come. 

That both of these stories lead to a fuller understanding of Jewish history – and world history – exemplifies what we know to be true: that history is not completely understood and known until we apply a gender lens to our research. This is the crux of HBI, and that which I am so proud to be a part of in my role as director of the newly rededicated Sandra Seltzer Silberman HBI Conversations Series. 

Whether you join us for the deeply researched history which uncovers the lost stories of Jewish women’s lives, the memoirs of Jewish women fighting for civil rights and acceptance within and without the Jewish community, or for some of the fictional Jewish women we encounter in the Silberman HBI Conversations Series (I’m looking at you, Rabbi Vivian Green), we hope you continue to join us and support our work and the mission of HBI. 

head shot of Terri Brown PreussTerri Brown Preuss is director of the The Sandra Seltzer Silberman HBI Conversations Series.

Join us for the next two programs in The Sandra Seltzer Silberman HBI Conversations Series: 

Judy Heumann, “Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist”, tomorrow, March 23, 7:00-8:00 pm EDT 

Being Heumann: The Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist is the powerful story of one Jewish woman’s fight to achieve respect, acceptance, and inclusion in society for herself and disabled people in the United States and later, around the world. 

Marcia Falk, Night of Beginnings: A Radical Re-visioning of the Passover Seder, April 11, 7:00-8:00 PM EDT

Marcia Falk (Brandeis ’68),  will read from and discuss  Night of Beginnings: A Passover Haggadah, her new haggadah which returns to the roots of the festival with a full recounting of, and original commentary on the Exodus story.   Co-Sponsor: The Brandeis Alumni Association

See all of HBI’s Upcoming Events here.

 

Using New Criminal Laws Against Coercive Control to Combat Get Abuse: Lessons from the Field

The day before Purim is marked by many Jews as the Fast of Esther, commemorating Queen Esther’s bravery in speaking up for her people when they were threatened.  In more recent years, it has also been marked around the world as International Agunah Day; a day to remember and speak out on behalf of agunot, women trapped in dead marriages until their husbands issue a get, a decree of Jewish divorce that can only be issued with the consent of the husband. 

wedding ring imageWhile agunot throughout history were often women whose husbands had absconded or were unable to consent, from the late 20th century to the present day, we have seen a new kind of agunah problem emerge. Now, we see husbands who are physically present and mentally sound, but who use the power to withhold a religious divorce to inflict pain on their wives or as a bargaining chip in negotiations over property, alimony and custody in the civil divorce.

HBI’s Boston Agunah Task Force is devoted to research, education and advocacy for fairness in the Jewish divorce process and takes the position that withholding a Jewish divorce is a form of domestic abuse.

In jurisdictions around the world, a new tactic has been developed in the fight against domestic abuse. It aims to provide remedies not only for acts of physical violence but also for patterns of conduct that aim to control a victim’s actions, limit their freedom and undermine their sense of self. A series of cases brought by agunah advocates in England have successfully invoked this new definition of domestic abuse to aid women being denied a divorce under Jewish law. 

HBI is hosting a three-part series that will explore the new legal and political strategies behind this initiative and the possibilities for using similar approaches in the United States. These online workshops are organized by the Boston Agunah Task Force, the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute at Brandeis University, JOFA and Cheirut. They will be held March 22 12:30 to1:30 EST; March 29, and April 5, 2022, 12:00-1:30 pm EST

Please register for this series.

Panel 1: “Coercive Control” and Get Abuse in the United Kingdom

Tuesday, March 22nd, 12:30-1:30 pm EDT

Lisa Fishbayn Joffe, Moderator: The Shulamit Reinharz Director of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute at Brandeis University.

Panelists:

Anthony Metzer QC:  Head of Chambers of Goldsmith Chambers, a leading multi-disciplinary set, and has a door tenancy at Exchange Chambers.

Joanne Greenaway:  Chief Executive of the London School of Jewish Studies (LSJS).

Panel 2: Possibilities for Using “Coercive Control” to Fight Get Abuse in the United States

Tuesday, March 29th, 12:00-1:30 pm EDT

Lisa Fishbayn Joffe, Moderator: The Shulamit Reinharz Director of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute at Brandeis University.

Panelists:

Esther Macner, Esq.: The founder and president of Get Jewish Divorce Justice, a non-profit organization in Los Angeles, CA. 

Erin Bistricer, Esq.: A senior staff attorney for Sarah’s Voice, a legal project of Shalom Task Force that provides free legal services to New York domestic violence victim-survivors from the Orthodox Jewish community. 

Keshet Starr, Esq.: The Executive Director of the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot (ORA), the nonprofit organization addressing the agunah (Jewish divorce refusal) crisis on a case-by-case basis worldwide. 

Panel 3: Considering the Halachic Implications of Relying on “Coercive Control” Laws to Fight Get Abuse

Tuesday, April 5th, 12:00-1:30 pm EDT

Layah Lipsker, Moderator: The Director of the Boston Agunah Task Force.

Panelists:

Rabbi Aryeh Klapper: The Dean of the Center for Modern Torah Leadership, Rosh Beit Midrash of its Summer Beit Midrash Program and a member of the Boston Beit Din. Rabbi Klapper is a founding member of the Boston Agunah Taskforce, a project of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute.

Rabbi Shlomo Weissmann: The Menahel (Director) of the Beth Din of America in NY. 

Dr. Rachel Levmore: A Rabbinical Court Advocate with a
nd Director of the Agunot and
Get -Refusal Prevention Project, International Young Israel Movement in Israel and The Jewish Agency.

Please register for this series.

 

 

Welcoming a New Year: A Note from the Director

By Lisa Fishbayn Joffe

The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute begins a new year and a new term today.  Brandeis is online temporarily, but we look forward to welcoming students and the community back to campus. We continue to host a wide range of online programs that share new research by and about Jewish women in all their diversity, and which explore pressing questions facing the Jewish community and the field of Jewish and gender studies.

Please join us today for our opening event, a discussion with Rachel Sharona Lewis, Brandeis ‘09, of her new novel, The Rabbi Who Prayed with Fire.  The book is an engaging mystery that introduces the bold and thoughtful Rabbi Vivian, who is both young and queer. The novel centers around the causes of a synagogue fire, and is a sensitive exploration of how we make decisions about communal security, considering all members of our community’s safety. These issues have been brought into sharp relief once again for congregations of all faiths across the country by the hostage taking in Colleyville, Texas this past weekend.  

As the regulation of abortion and rights to religious freedom in making reproductive decisions are once again under deliberation by the Supreme Court of the United States, HBI will convene a workshop to explore how Jewish communities and Jewish law engage with this issue. Gender, Reproductive Rights and Jewish Law: Israeli and American perspectives, will feature scholars of history, politics, law and anthropology whose research provides a helpful frame for current debates. Join us on March 7 and 14, from noon to 1:30 p.m. The series will culminate with a keynote address on March 20, 7:30 p.m. by Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, a widely published author, scholar in residence at the National Council of Jewish Women, and founder of Rabbis for Repro. Join us for Rabbi Ruttenberg’s talk which will be this year’s Diane Markowicz Lecture on Gender and Human Rights. 

We are also privileged to host Judy Heumann, discussing her memoir, Being Heumann: The Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist, the powerful story of one Jewish woman’s fight to achieve respect, acceptance, and inclusion in society for herself and disabled people in the United States and around the world. Join us on March 23, 2022 at 7 p.m. as part of the Sandra Seltzer Silberman Conversations Series. In the spring, we will celebrate the launch of the newest book in the HBI Series on Jewish Women, the English edition of Tamar Biala’s, Dirshuni: Contemporary Women’s Midrash, the first ever English edition of an historic collection of midrashim composed by Israeli women. The Hebrew version of Dirshuni was included as one of the most important works written in Jewish Studies in the last 50 years in The New Jewish Canon (2020). HBI is excited to bring it to an English readership. Stay tuned for details of a special opportunity to meet with Biala for the Friends of HBI

We welcome a cohort of new and continuing in person, hybrid, and virtual scholars in residence: Ayelet Brinn on gender, mass culture and the rise of the American Yiddish press, Noya Rimalt on abortion policy in Israel, Miriam Udell on constructions of gender in modern Yiddish children’s literature, and Bat-Sheva Margalit Stern on Jewish women political prisoners. You can hear about their work in the Institute Seminar.

This semester marks the return of HBI’s spring art exhibition to the Kniznick Gallery. We will feature Israeli artist, Tamar Nissim’s exhibition, Contagious Truths, from March 10 to July 8. Through video and still photography, Tamar Nissim explores the experience of women in the Mizrahi immigrant community in Israel, with a particular focus on the troubling stories of babies taken from their mothers in what has come to be known as the Yemenite Babies Affair.

All of this work is made possible by financial support from donors and friends. Contributions of any size help to fund research positions, research awards, student internships, and public programs. I am grateful to all our supporters, including more than 100 new donors who became Friends of HBI by making a sustaining annual gift of $180. If you would like to be part of this effort, please consider making a gift to HBI here or learning more about the Friend of HBI.

I hope to see you at these events online and, in due course, in person.  Please join us and spread the word about our work.

Warmly,

Dr. Lisa Fishbayn Joffe 

Dr. Lisa Fishbayn Joffe is The Shulamit Reinharz Director of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute.

 

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