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Challenge and ConformityThe Religious Lives of Orthodox Jewish Women$
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Lindsey Taylor-Guthartz

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781786941718

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781786941718.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 04 December 2021

Studying Jewish Women

Studying Jewish Women

(p.10) One Studying Jewish Women
Challenge and Conformity

Lindsey Taylor-Guthartz

Liverpool University Press

This chapter explores the problems of studying Orthodox Jewish women, in particular the 'double invisibility' they experience, first from the perspective of male Orthodox Jews, and, second, in the lack of knowledge about them in the non-Jewish world. Orthodox women engage in a wide range of communal and domestic religious activities, in spite of their exclusion from an active role in worship in synagogue and from some areas of Torah study. Activities defined by Orthodoxy as the supreme religious privileges of women, such as keeping a kosher kitchen, preparing food for sabbath and festivals, and nurturing and educating children, remain largely invisible to Orthodox men. Standard descriptions of women's practices in the domestic and individual spheres omit many widespread customs and practices, often characterized as 'superstitions' although they form an integral and meaningful part of many women's religious lives. A major problem in studying women's religious lives and the ways in which they differ from and intersect with those of men is imagining how women fit into one's overall picture of Jewish religious activity. Neither the 'separate but equal' apologetic nor the simplistic identification of 'oppressed and oppressors' made by some feminists provides an adequate way of thinking about the relationship between male and female lived experience of Judaism. Given that Orthodox Judaism is undeniably patriarchal, it may reasonably be asked whether women have any access to power or agency within the religious life of the community, particularly in matters of ritual and correct practice.

Keywords:   Orthodox Jewish women, male Orthodox Jews, Orthodox Judaism, Jewish feminists, Jewish women agency, domestic religious activities, Orthodoxy, Jewish religious activity

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