Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance

JOFA's logo, evoking the waters of Miriam's well

The Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA) was founded in 1997 with the aim of "expand[ing] the spiritual, ritual, intellectual, and political opportunities for women with the framework of halakha," or Jewish law. [1]

History and mission

According to its website, JOFA's mission is to advocate the "meaningful participation" of women, to the fullest extent possible with the framework of halakha, in family life, synagogues, houses of learning, and within the Jewish community in general.

JOFA was founded in 1997 after the first International Conference on Feminism and Orthodoxy, organized by Jewish-American writer Blu Greenberg. Greenberg was a cofounder and the first president of JOFA. JOFA has grown from a small group who met at Greenberg's kitchen table to become a professionally staffed, international alliance, active in North America, Israel, and England. [2]

Robin Bodner was the Executive Director of the organization for over a decade. She retired in early 2012, and shortly thereafter Dr. Elana Maryles Sztokman became Executive Director. Sztokman is credited with significantly raising JOFA's public profile, reaching out to young Orthodox feminists, connecting with social activists around the United States and around the world, launching JOFA UK with JOFA UK Ambassador Dina Brawer, and re-crafting the JOFA message around sophisticated feminist thought.

In January 2014, JOFA announced that Sztokman would be leaving the organization. In September 2014, Dr. Sharon Weiss-Greenberg assumed the position of Executive Director.[3] Weiss-Greenberg has drastically increased the online presence of JOFA and the diversity of its constituents. Their Facebook page more than doubled its reach within a year of her stepping into the position. It was under her tutelage that JOFA began creating chapters to engage and empower communities outside of the New York area. She is successfully broadening the tent of those who identify as a #HumanOfJOFA.

Halakhic Publications

JOFA has published numerous halakhic guides as a part of the Ta Shma series, educating the public about topics related to women's involvement in Orthodox Jewish ritual. Topics include:

Educational Initiatives

Project Esther: Megillat Esther App

JOFA's interactive app allows women and men to learn the cantillations for reading Megillat Esther. The app can be downloaded to your smart phone or tablet or can be used on the web with Chrome or Safari browsers. The user can practice by following along with the megillah text, while they listen to the layner. An easy to use navigation system allows the user to replay desired sections, both with and without the cantillation marks appearing on the screen. The app also includes instructions on how to organize a megillah reading, a halakhic discussion of the sources for women's reading of the megillah, a dvar Torah about the Book of Esther and more.[4]

Women Scholars Sukkot Poster

In 2014, JOFA launched an initiative to sponsor artwork for the creation of an educational poster featuring notable female Jewish scholars, to be used to decorate sukkot.[5][6]

See also

External links

Further reading


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