Women in Contemporary Jewish Thought: A Comparative Study of an Orthodox and a Non-Orthodox Feminist Approach

Document Type : Research Paper


PhD Degree in Religious Studies


This paper briefly examines two approaches to the position of women in Judaism. One is from an orthodox perspective, represented by Chana Weisberg, and the other is a non-orthodox and feminist approach, represented by Judith Plaskow. By examining these two approaches, we expect to contribute to a better understanding of the diverse views of women in contemporary Judaism. Plaskow criticizes the different positions for men and women in Judaism and views them as signs of a woman’s otherness that has resulted from a patriarchal approach on the part of those who authored the scriptures. For Plaskow, the different positions of men and women can only mean a woman’s inferiority. Weisberg on the other hand, acknowledges the different positions of men and women, but argues that these differences are indicators of a woman’s superiority. Nevertheless, it is fair to state that their preoccupation with either the absolute rejection or acceptance of different positions for men and women has deterred them from addressing the fundamental and undeniable issue of the existence of gender differences. In addition, they have not addressed the possibility of these gender differences as a part of the philosophy behind the different positions of men and women in Judaism.


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