Sisterhood Blog

Why Judaism Needs Feminism

By Danya Ruttenberg

  • Print
  • Share Share

This is the fifteenth entry in an ongoing series exploring Jewish feminism.

I’m a Jewish feminist for a lot of reasons.

On the one hand, given that feminism is about removing external hindrances to the project of everyone living out their highest, holiest, Divinely-given potential —why wouldn’t I be? There’s still plenty of homophobia, transphobia and sexism in Jewish law, rituals, communities and institutional structures. As such, we still have a lot of work to do to create textual activism, forceful new interpretations, transformative moments, and straight-up institutional change in contemporary Jewish life.

But more than that, I’m a Jewish feminist because I believe that Judaism and feminism absolutely require one another.

As a feminist, my work is nourished by my spiritual practice, and enables me to draw from a Source much deeper and more powerful than my limited self. As a Jew — well, quite naturally, Judaism is enriched by the extraordinary range of perspectives and voices that feminism adds to the ongoing project of receiving the Torah anew. Without them, our religion will wither and die; with them, it can continue to grow and expand, enabling us all to become more moral, more kind, more connected to the sacred, and better able to serve God.

Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg is author of “Surprised By God: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Religion” (nominated for the Sami Rohr prize), editor of five anthologies, including “The Passionate Torah: Sex and Judaism” and “Yentl’s Revenge: The Next Wave of Jewish Feminism,” and is the senior Jewish educator at Tufts Hillel.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Jewish Feminism Series, Danya Ruttenberg

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • Is Handel’s ‘Messiah’ an anti-Semitic screed?
  • Meet the Master of the Matzo Ball.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.