Women and Gender Relations

Judith R. Baskin

in Jewish Studies

ISBN: 9780199840731
Published online August 2012 | | DOI:
Women and Gender Relations


The recognition that gender plays an overwhelming role in shaping an individual’s socialization, educational and vocational opportunities, and spiritual and creative endeavors has changed how many scholars approach and interpret their research data. Before the last quarter of the 20th century, with some exceptions, most studies of Judaism and the Jewish experience had little to say about differences between men’s and women’s lives and status. It was only in the 1970s and 1980s, influenced by methodologies emerging from women’s studies, that scholars of Jewish law and practice, history, literatures, thought, mysticism, religious movements, and cultural production began to use gender as a category of analysis. This attention to women and the ramifications of gender were driven in great part by the unprecedented number of women who were than entering doctoral studies and undertaking academic careers in numerous areas of Jewish studies. In recent decades, many female and male scholars have explored the constructions and consequences of gender in Jewish societies of many times and places. At the same time, popular interest in women and gender has grown as a result of the feminist movement of the last third of the 20th century and its impact in expanding women’s personal and professional options. In the Jewish community, a burgeoning interest in scholarly analyses of Jewish women and their activities and representations has accompanied the ordination of women as rabbis and cantors in many Jewish religious movements; the expansion of intellectual, spiritual, and leadership roles for women in many synagogues and communal organizations; and an increased attention to the education of girls and women in all forms of contemporary Judaism. These developments, in turn, have promoted significant anthropological and sociological studies analyzing the impact of these changes. Interest in Jewish gender relations and cultural constructions of male identity in various Judaisms is a more recent development. However, increasing numbers of researchers are investigating how the relatively rigid roles mandated for men and women in rabbinic Judaism and performed in Jewish legal, religious, and social life over the centuries have defined the expectations that Jewish women and men have projected onto the gendered self and the gendered other. This bibliography principally gathers English-language book-length studies and published collections of essays that focus on the contemporary Jewish community and the Jewish past from the biblical era through the 20th century. The large body of book-length studies on gender and Jewish literatures is not discussed here.

Article.  16901 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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