What do women want? Answers will be in survey

Research will examine the role of women within the community


A national consultation was launched this week to find out what Jewish women want from the community and beyond.

They can contribute their views through an online survey, with the findings due to be reported at an event in early March.

The research has been initiated by the Alliance of Jewish Women, an organisation with a century of activism, which was formerly known as the Association of Jewish Women’s Organisations.

It is jointly chaired by Jewish Leadership Council trustee Laura Marks, who chaired the JLC’s commission on women in Jewish leadership, and Judy Silkoff, who recently moved from the Federation of Synagogues to become director of operations at the Board of Deputies.

They said they were “excited to be launching our national consultation, inviting every single Jewish woman to voice her opinion, loud and clear”.

It is nine years since the JLC commission, which highlighted the paucity of women within the governing bodies of major Jewish organisations.

Ms Marks explained that the consultation had a broader remit, to “look at women’s role within the community and what women care and feel strongly about”.

The alliance would aim to be a “pressure group” to ensure that the agenda of communal organisations reflected the concerns of women. But it was also seeking to find o ut which issues Jewish women wanted a voice on in the wider world.

Since the JLC commission reported, there have been some positive developments. The Board of Deputies, for example, has for the first time a majority of women honorary officers — although, Ms Marks noted, two-thirds of all deputies are male.

“All the evidence is that we are behind the national agenda,” because of “a cultural propensity towards patriarchy”.

But given their high level of education, women in the Jewish community should be “ahead of the game”.

While they might not sign up to traditional Jewish women’s groups in the numbers their predecessors did, the organisers believe that many remain willing to engage and are “committed to making their mark”.

In its first two days, the consultation attracted 100 responses.

One area it will stay clear of is religious issues within the Jewish community. “It would just open up divisions in a way we don’t want to do,” Ms Marks explained.

View the survey here.

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