Dr. Judith Plaskow is serving as the Rabbi Sally J. Priesand Visiting Professor of Jewish Women’s Studies at the New York campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) during the 2012-13 academic year. She is teaching Sexual Ethics in the Fall and Creating a Personal Theology in the Spring. Additionally, in the Spring, she will deliver a public lecture at the New York campus and will convene a roundtable discussion for alumni and faculty that will meet approximately every other week. Dr. Plaskow is Professor Emerita of Religious Studies at Manhattan College and a Jewish feminist theologian who has been teaching, writing, and speaking about feminist theology for forty years.
Rabbi Shirley Idelson, Dean, HUC-JIR/New York, stated, "Our New York faculty and students are honored to have the opportunity to study this year with Judith Plaskow, one of the preeminent feminist theologians of our time. We began the year at Kallah focusing together on difficult questions related to gender and Judaism--questions relevant for all of us, regardless of gender--and we will continue to wrestle with these and other twenty-first century challenges we as liberal Jews face today. Judith Plaskow is already helping us do this in ways both theoretical and practical, grounded in Jewish thought while pushing us to consider new visions for contemporary Jewish life."
Dr. Plaskow was introduced to the students and faculty at the HUC-JIR/New York Kallah during an interview with Dr. Wendy Zierler during the session "Why Feminism Now." The goal of Dr. Zierler's session was to introduce some of the enduring and central themes of feminism: Our Feminist Forbears, From Silence to Voice, The Personal is Political, Confronting Power, and Setting the Feminist Agenda. Watch the interview with Drs. Plaskow and Zierler.
In Dr. Plaskow's Sexual Ethics course, she will work with her students to develop a series of statements on sexuality for the New York campus of HUC-JIR. In pursuit of this goal, students will reflect on various frameworks for thinking about sexuality, explore a range of different views in the Jewish tradition, and examine a number of specific contested issues (transgender issues, rabbinic sexual misconduct, etc.).
In addition to her Visiting Scholar position at HUC-JIR, Dr. Plaskow is working on a book with Carol P. Christ, tentatively entitled God and Feminism. She and Carol P. Christ co-edited Womanspirit Rising: A Feminist Reader in Religion and Weaving the Visions: New Patterns in Feminist Spirituality, two widely-read anthologies of feminist theology used in many women's studies and religious studies courses. With Elisabeth Schussler-Fiorenza, she co-founded the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. She co-edited it for its first decade (1985-94) and is currently co-editor with Melanie Johnson-Debaufre. Her book Standing Again at Sinai: Judaism from a Feminist Perspective (1990) brought twenty years of feminist theological reflection to bear on the transformation of Judaism. A collection of her essays, The Coming of Lilith: Essays on Feminism, Judaism, and Sexual Ethics 1972-2003, was published by Beacon Press in 2005.
"I grew up in a classical Reform congregation where women were on the bima only to light candles on Friday night and on Sisterhood Shabbat," concludes Dr. Plaskow. "When I think about how much has changed in the last forty years, it's hard for me to believe in the accuracy of my own memories."