Women in Judaism:
A Multidisciplinary Journal

ISSN 1209-9392

Summer 1998 Volume 1, Number 2

"Rav Hisda said: A man should never terrorize his household. The concubine of Giv'ah [Judges 19-21] was terrorized by her husband, and she was the cause of many thousands being slaughtered in Israel." - BabylonianTalmud, Gittin 6b



The Seduction of Eve and Feminist Readings of the Garden of Eden Reuven Kimelman
This reading of the Eve and Adam story focuses on the consequential role of the woman and her linkage to the serpent. The rapidity of the switch from defender to transgressor of the divine command indicates that the disobedience was not instigated exclusively by the serpent; indeed, the serpent does not get Eve to act out of character, but only to extend previous inklings. This function of the serprent is based on the differences between the original divine command and Eve's rendering of it. It is supported by her name, Havva, which evokes the cognates "hivyah" (serpent) and "hivvah" (spoke). Once it is seen that a talking serpent represents the inner Eve, the story becomes a parable of the human condition, not one of humanity coming of age. 

Eve is Every(wo)man. By highlighting the significance of the woman, this reading makes for the remarkable combination of authoritarian theology and egalitarian anthrolpology.



Contesting Constraints: Amelia Pincherle Rosselli, Jewish Writer in Pre-Fascist Italy Stanislao G. Pugliese

Amelia Pincherle Rosselli was a noted and award-winning playwright. Her work combined themes of social criticism, a condemnation of hypocrisy and a plea for gender equality. Her literary work features strong, independent and intelligent women, caught within the constraints of bourgeois society. As a non-practising Jew, Amelia implicitly criticized the patriarchy of traditional Judaism, and turned toward literature and nationalism as a secular religion. From Judaism she accepted the demand for social justice in the tradition of the Prophets, and ideal that she passed on to her sons who were active in the Italian anti-fascist resistance.



Judaism Confronts Wife-Beating Naomi Graetz

The myth that domestic violence does not exist among Jews is currently being challenged. This essay presents the problem of wifebeating in halakha and everyday life. The law of the State of Israel gives jurisdiction in matters of personal status to Orthodox rabbinical courts; this means that all matters of marriage and divorce are adjudicated according to Jewish law. The judges, who are male and Orthodox, have it in their power to decide whether a man can be ordered to give his wife a bill of divorce. Despite past decisions to the contrary, wifebeating does not seem to serve as grounds for divorce according to modern Orthodox Judaism. Women in the State of Israel may thus find themselves tied to abusive husbands, with no legal recourse.


Film Review

The Return of Sarah's Daughters Tressa Berman
American Jewish Women's Identity: An Annotated Bibliography Compiled by Anna Nelson
Annotated Bibliography and Guide to Archival Resources on the History of Jewish Women in America Compiled by Phyllis Holman Weisbard
Bibliography Covering the Agunah Problem, Jewish Marriage, Jewish Divorce, and Related Issues Compiled by Marc S. Cwik

This issue is dedicated to the memory of Avraham Ripsman, Yaron Friedman and Yaakov Green, Z"L, who have recently departed this world - Editor.

All material in the journal is subject to copyright; copyright is held by the journal except where otherwise indicated. There is to be no reproduction or distribution of contents by any means without prior permission. Contents do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors. The editors extend special thanks to Professor Domenico Pietropaolo and Jennifer Hellum of the University of Toronto. The editors acknowledge with gratitude the support of the Jewish Studies Program at the University of Toronto.

© 1998 Women in Judaism: A Multidisciplinary Journal

Last revised July 24, 1998