The Place of Orthodoxy in the State of Israel

As the head of the Center for Women's Justice, I encounter on a daily basis the intractable entanglement—the “Gordian knot”—of State and (Orthodox) religion in Israel. This union of religion and state supports a gendered society, infringes on the basic rights of women, challenges the democratic values of the State, and threatens to undermine Israel's integrity as the political expression of the Jewish nation.

Israelis, Jews, Palestinians: Reflections of an American Student*



            “Jewish, not Israeli” is a phrase I found myself repeating to many a Palestinian this summer (the summer of May 2010, following my senior year of high school) at Seeds of Peace international conflict resolution camp. Although I was part of the American delegation, and by definition not an Israeli, I was often identified by Palestinian campers as the “other side.” But Israel is neither my birthplace nor my current home, so one need not have expected my beliefs to oppose Palestinian existence.

Li-Heyot Am Hofshi beArtseinu: The As-Yet Unrealized Dream


When we moved to Israel 30 years ago we sacrificed a number of things: living space (we exchanged a two-story home on a large plot of land for an apartment in a 10-story building) and the excellent, affordable, and personal medical care to which middle-class Americans had then grown accustomed. We also lost Sundays as days off.

What we gained made this all worthwhile: a sense of purpose, a sense of being part of something important that was bigger than ourselves, and, we thought, the opportunity finally to be part of the mainstream.

A Judaism of Laws or of People

An Orthodox colleague recently created a controversy after writing a blog post explaining why he no longer recites the blessing shelo asani isha - thanking God for not creating him as a woman. Several Orthodox rabbis criticized this position for various reasons with one even questioning the author's right to call himself "Orthodox," ostensibly for deviating from the traditional liturgy through his omission. In the grand scheme of Orthodox Jewish history this rabbi's personal choice is relatively trivial.