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The Sticky

by Chanel Dubofsky

November 28, 2010 | 4:46 pm

Last week, I wrote a piece at the Sisterhood about the current movement to reclaim and redefine feminism, and the need for establishing boundaries around that definition. In the piece, I talked about how a centerpiece for claiming a feminist identity must include active allyship in the queer community. There’s very little mention of Judaism in the piece, which you can read here:  http://blogs.forward.com/sisterhood-blog/133360/, but since the piece was published, I’ve been thinking about how deeply separate my Jewish and feminist identities have become, at least in a certain context.

I’ve given up the pretention that I’m traditionally observant, and I’m okay with that. It’s who I am (and am not) right now, and I’m glad I’m able to recognize that after all this time. Thankfully, I’m not feeling pressed to choose between my Jewish identity and my politics because I don’t place emphasis on halacha, which is where things get sticky. The definition of feminism I’ve articulated above might be a challenging place for traditionally observant Jews who struggle with the Torah and homosexuality. It’s hard for me to say that not everyone needs to be a feminist (although, really, I think everyone should be), but it is actually the responsibility of all Jews to be genuinely inclusive in their communities. It is literally the least we can do, and feminism, the genuine, unflinching sort, not the Sarah Palin kind, can be a roadmap to this. It gives the Jewish community the opportunity to look at itself through a lens that can unpack assimilation and anti-Semitism and ultimately, offer us a better way to understand our place in the world and the change we are capable of making.

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