Sisterhood Blog

The Many Reasons Why I Am a Feminist Jew

By Debra Nussbaum Cohen

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

I am a feminist Jew because I view being Jewish as a gift, as I do being a woman. Neither should suffer for the sake of the other.

I am a feminist Jew because I believe that Torah is our divinely-inspired central literature, and what binds us as a people.

I am a feminist Jew because I believe that we should all have direct access to Torah in all of its manifestations. We need to be educated in its language to have that access, in which neither gender should be privileged over the other.

I am a feminist Jew because I believe that inclination, ability and drive — not gender — should dictate what a person accomplishes.

I am a feminist Jew because I believe that women have something to contribute to the future of Judaism that includes, but is not limited to, our children and the success of our husbands and partners.

I am a feminist Jew because I believe that my daughters, as well as my son, can and should be Jewish leaders.

I am a feminist Jew because I have never seen separate really mean equal.

I am a feminist Jew because to deprive a woman of her voice is to deprive her of her agency.

I am a feminist Jew because I was married in a wedding where I was required to be totally silent and passive, and no woman should feel that way at her wedding.

I am a feminist Jew because I believe women should be able to have a voice in synagogue and in the public square, as well as in our homes.

I am a feminist Jew because I have too often seen tradition turn women into passive creatures who view it as one of their primary roles to accommodate what they think are men’s needs.

I am a feminist Jew because when women are deprived of our voice, individually and collectively, justice suffers.

I am a feminist Jew because I love Judaism and believe in its power to root, guide and transform us, and because Judaism is impoverished when deprived of our voices.

I am a feminist Jew because we have to speak up for ourselves. No one else will.

Debra Nussbaum Cohen is author of “Celebrating Your New Jewish Daughter: Creating Jewish Ways to Welcome Baby Girls into the Covenant” (Jewish Lights),, was formerly a Drisha arts fellow, is a Forward contributing editor and founding contributor at The Sisterhood.


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