How to be an Orthodox Jew — and a feminist too

A respected American programme catering to Orthodox Jewish women is to launch in the UK in the new year.

The Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance will be run by London-based Dina Brawer in an attempt to boost the education and resources on offer to a new generation of Orthodox women.

Set up 15 years ago in America to “expand the spiritual, ritual, intellectual, and political opportunities for women in the framework of halachah”, JOFA is now also active in Israel, where Mrs Brawer first encountered it.

Mrs Brawer, an established Jewish educator, said that, with children at Jewish schools, women were increasingly aware of gaps in their knowledge, education and connection with Judaism and starting to want to find their place in the religion. She already teaches brides about mikveh and Jewish marriage, and has seen a trend of people embracing and being excited about the ideas.

“Women are finding that there is much more of a gap between their secular and Jewish lives; there are more women achieving, more women in the workplace.

“Equality for men and women may not be the perfect state in secular society but there is much more of a gap in the religious community.

“Some Orthodox women might find the role of mother, nurturer and enabler very fulfilling and not question their involvement, but it’s not going to fulfil all women’s needs and a lot of women will be left in the middle. We don’t want to lose them to outside the community.”

Last updated: 4:45pm, December 13 2012