May 12, 2021

Pressing Feminist Agendas: New Reports from the Field

Editor’s Note: HBI is hosting Pressing Feminist Agendas: New Reports from the Field to launch Issue 37, dedicated to the study of Jewish feminist ethnographies. The conference is Wed, May 12, 12:30 pm EST. Register Here

By Amy Powell

The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute will host Pressing Feminist Agendas: New Reports from the Field to launch the latest issue of Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women’s Studies and Gender Issues, at a virtual conference on Wed., May 12. The conference will feature short talks from several of the issue’s authors and artists.

Nashim #37The work collected in the current issue of Nashim, titled Jewish Feminist Ethnographies connects along the theme of the “pressing feminist agendas, expressed in attention for example, to intersectionality in women’s lives, systemic inequalities of power, and the movement from marginalization to empowerment,” wrote Consulting Editor Vanessa Ochs, a professor of religious studies and a member of the Jewish Studies Program at the University of Virginia.

Vanessa Ochs

Vanessa Ochs


Underscoring these themes, Ochs noted that many of the contributors to this issue completed their papers while facing issues unique to the pandemic — teaching remotely for the first time, caring for children or elders, in a “fearful time without precedent,” an accomplishment to be “lifted up and celebrated.”

Work to be presented on May 12 includes: 

  • The “Vulnerable Hero” and His Wife: PTSD and the Shifting Dynamics of Gender and Care in Contemporary Israel by Keren Friedman-Peleg, a senior lecturer in the School of Behavioral Science at the College of Management – Academic Studies, Israel. She is the author of PTSD and the Politics of Trauma in Israel: A Nation on the Couch  (Hebrew, Magnes Press, 2014) and (English, University of Toronto Press, 2017)


  • They Must Join Us, There is No Other Way,”: Haredi Activism, the Battle Against Sexual Violence, and the Reworking of Rabbinic Accountability by Michal Kravel-Tovi,  an associate professor of socio-cultural anthropology at Tel Aviv University. She is the author of When the State Winks: The Performance of Jewish Conversion in Israel (Columbia University Press, 2017, 2020) and co-editor of Taking Stock: Cultures of Enumeration in Contemporary Jewish Life (with Deborah Dash Moore; Indiana University Press, 2016).  


  • Milk Sisters: Forging Sisterhood at Kohenet’s Hebrew Priestess Institute by Cara Rock-Singer, an assistant professor of Religious Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she is affiliated with the Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies, the Holtz Center for Science and Technology and the department for Gender and Women’s Studies. 


Judith Margolis, art editor of Nashim, will interview Joan Roth, who contributed In Search of Jewish Women: My Travels into Light, a photo essay about Jewish women living far from the familiar centers of modern Jewish life. The work features women in Ethiopia, Yemen, Morocco, the former Soviet Union, eastern Europe, South America, Bukhara and India.  Joan Roth’s photographs have been published, exhibited and collected worldwide, starting in the 1970s. The work featured in Nashim was previously published in her book Jewish Women: A world of Tradition and Change (Jolen Press, 1995). 


Other work in Nashim includes: 

  • The Chinese Unicorn, in memory of Irene Eber, by Kathryn Hellerstein
  • Creating Jewish Mothers: A Feminist Ethnographic Investigation of the Mothers Circle of Coastal Virginia and the Interfaith Parents Circle, by Amy Milligan
  • Two Poems by Janet Heller
  • A Mother’s Prayer (poem) by Shirley Adelman
  • Water Wears Away Stone: Caring for Those We can Only Imagine by Sarah Zager 
  • Gender, Language and Territory: The Tsushtayer Literary Journal in Galicia and the Contributions of Yiddish Women Writers by Anastasiya Lyubas

There are several book reviews:

  • From Left to Right: Lucy S. Dawidowicz, the New York Intellectuals, and the Politics of Jewish History (Wayne State University Press, 2020) by Nancy Sinkoff, review by Dana Herman
  • The Obligated Self: Maternal Subjectivity and Jewish Thought (Indiana University Press, 2018) by Mara Benjamin, reviewed by Benjamin Pollack
  • Chava Rosenfarb: Confessions of a Yiddish Writer and Other Essays, (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2019) edited by Goldie Morgentaler and reviewed by Anastasiya Lyubas.

Amy Powell is the assistant director of HBI.

Register here for Pressing Feminist Agendas: New Reports from the Field

Wed, May 12, 12:30 pm EST. Obtain your copy of Nashim: Jewish Feminist Ethnographies here. 

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