Every morning Jewish men offering their prayers to God in the traditional manner include the line Blessed are you Lord our God, King of the universe who has not made me a woman. Regardless of one's interpretation of this line, it is an inescapable fact that traditional Judaism views women and men and their places within Judaism quite differently.
But Judaism is not a static religion. It has always been influenced by changes in its surrounding environment. Throughout history, issues of gender have both influenced and been influenced by classical and modern Jewish perspectives. This transformation continues today, as feminist thinkers attempt to discover how modern women fit into Jewish thought and practice. Is halakhah gender inclusive? How do conceptualizations of the Jewish home effect Jewish women's identities? What is the relation between the experiences of historical Jewish women and the roles of their present day sisters? How have changing gender roles affected the identity of the Jewish male?
In this groundbreaking anthology, twenty scholars seek to address these and other questions. Among the many subjects covered are: gender boundaries in Kabbalah; images of Jewish masculinity; the challenge of women's rabbinic leadership; Jewish feminist theory; rabbinic responses to wife-beating; Orthodox women in the modern world; and patriarchy, Judaism, and Nazism in German feminist thought.
"This exciting book is based on the premise that we do not already know what Jewish identities are. Mapping Jewish Identities offers pathways away from essentialized notions of Jewishness and provides the intellectual tool for 'alternative modes of Jewish becoming.' A treat to read."-Miriam Peskowitz, author of "Spinning Fantasies: Rabbis, Gender, and History" and coeditor with Laura Levitt of "Judaism since Gender"