Idea #18 - Create a website for Jewish women


By Miriam Shaviv
March 24, 2010
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marlinashmool.JPG

marlinashmool.JPG

During the month of March, I will be publishing a daily proposal to transform the British Jewish community. Email your own idea (up to 350 words) to miriamshaviv@thejc.com

Today's idea comes from Marlena Schmool: Create a website for Jewish women

In examining the Jewish population of Britain on most social, geographical or synagogal criteria, we discover a range of groups where people in one may feel distant from those in others.   The 2001 Census of population showed that every Local Authority in England and Wales had a Jewish presence.  Registers of Jewish organisations indicate that Jews seek each other out locally. So British Jews are simultaneously spread out and compartmentalised. This contrasts with a media image which seems for the main part to be based on Greater North-West London with inputs from Stamford Hill or Manchester.

Such a basically monolithic representation can be alienating especially for those whose ideas and values may be formed by less conventional life-styles.  In 2009 the women who contributed to the study Connection, Continuity and Community: British Jewish Women Speak Out made it abundantly clear this is so.  They responded from London, Leeds, Manchester, Scotland and small groups away from these major centres.  Their responses articulated the gap between institutionally defined norms and the day-to-day reality of British Jewish life.   

Women account for more than half of British Jewry. Those who spoke out last year are secularly highly educated and they care deeply about the community.  They want to be part of an inclusive community where the leaders accommodate the social changes that are affecting us all.  They want to connect with each other across the community’s religious divides.  They applauded the opportunity to do so afforded by the study. 

All want better Jewish education for their children – especially their daughters – wherever they live.  It’s available in Hendon but not in Hereford or Hampshire.  They recognise that they are not qualified enough to provide this themselves and know that without it the British Jewish future is in peril - but feel it shouldn’t depend on Jewish day schools in ‘ghetto areas’.  They are emotionally attached to the idea of community but question whether it needs to be defined through congregations. 

The community needs to de-compartmentalise, to permit ideas and activities to flow across the community – from one ‘denomination’ to the other.  Women have shown that they are ready to recognise the benefits of working together regardless of personal religious affiliations.  The League of Jewish Women and Wizo show how well.  Sadly, there is no one-stop focal point to continue this conversation, to allow it to develop and inform community thinking.   

It can be done technically quite easily in today’s world of Facebook, Twitter and other virtual communities.  What we need is a Jewish Women’s Website to promote and facilitate cross-community exchange and co-operation.  At the moment the women who spearheaded the study are thinking through how. 

First and foremost it should be independent of any synagogal affiliation or supervision; moral support is of course another matter.  Placing a conversation page on a more generally focused site could be another way. 

Musmnet shows us that if there is a will there is a way.  And, of course the conversation must not exclude men.

 

Marlena Schmool is a freelance research consultant and Project Director 2009 for ‘British Jewish Women Speak Out’

Check out our previous ideas: 17 - Create a UK Centre for Jewish Education 16 - Learn to talk to each other about difficult subjects 15 - Merge some of our charities and community services 14 - Hold joint events for JSocs and Islamic societies every term 13 - Create a virtual community 12 - Turn Anglo-Jewry into a learning community 11 - Turn Shabbat into the Greenest day of the week 10 - Focus on people, not institutions 9 - Create an online platform for Jewish students8 - Appoint anti-antisemitism champions7 - Share our synagogues and community centres with other religions,  6 - Establish a Succah in Trafalgar Square5 - Create a 'community service' programme for young Jews4 - Recruit older people to volunteer for the community,3 - Establish a fund for the Jewish arts2 - Pay membership fees to your community, not your shul1 - Make 2010/11 the year of synagogue renewal

COMMENTS

moshetzarfati2 (not verified)

Wed, 03/24/2010 - 16:50

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Is this not one of the purposes of thejc.com?


Gefiltefishwife

Wed, 03/24/2010 - 17:10

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It might be, but when the website is dominated by annoying, aggressive, BORING men like you, can you blame the women for running the other way? You quite obviously have nothing else to do since you are all over this site like bacteria. Is there anything at all on which you do not have an opinion? And are you as annoying as this in real life? (If you have one, in between JC comments.)
By the way, I appear to be your next door neighbour in Aberdeen. Perhaps we bumped into each other when you came off the oil rig.


Gefiltefishwife

Wed, 03/24/2010 - 17:12

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Idea number 19 - Get Moshetzarfati off the JC website. That will definitely change Anglo-Jewry for the better.


Sharon Udasin

Wed, 03/24/2010 - 20:48

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Chabad has a pretty nice one (called TheJewishWoman.org) that's meant to be for all Jewish women, but it's American-based.
http://www.chabad.org/theJewishWoman/default_cdo/jewish/Women.htm


John Gold

Thu, 03/25/2010 - 17:54

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yeah but 'chabad' are fundamentalists...

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