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New Publication!

Women's Torah Study: The Idea and the Meaning
By Dr. Hanah Kehat

Center Updates

Applications for the Fanya Gottesfeld Heller Grants (Student, Research, Travel, Translation) can be submitted untill January 1 , 2014.

For more information please contact jwmn.biu@gmail.com

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Conference on Women and Prayer (March 18, 2007):

On March 18th The Fanya Gottesfeld Heller Center held a conference devoted to women praying and women’s prayer. This day was organized together with Dr. Aliza Lavie, of the Dept. of Communications at Bar Ilan and author of the best-selling book Tefillat Nashim. The conference included a combination of approaches and perspectives on the topic.

The day started off with two academic sessions devoted to women’s prayers and women praying throughout history with talks by Prof. Moshe Rosman, Prof. Hava Turniansky, Dr. Elisheva Baumgarten, Dr. Vered Noam and Prof. Rachel Elior. Prof. Rosman presented a panoramic overview of changes in synagogue structures and women’s roles in prayers over the past four hundred years in Ashkenazi communities. Prof. Turniansky discussed praying in the context of Gl?ckel of Hamel’s life. Gl?ckel is the first Jewish woman who wrote an autobiography.

The talks by Noam, Baumgarten and Elior all touched upon historical discussions of women’s halakhic obligation to pray and on the contents of women’s prayers in different times and places. All the speakers discussed different methods of reading traditional sources to help find information on women and prayer that has been ignored or disregarded to date.

The afternoon was dedicated to six parallel workshops that discussed and demonstrated non-traditional methods of prayer, psychological analysis and the composition of prayers. We concluded with a panel led by Dr. Lavie in which three different perspectives on Israeli society and praying were presented by Rabbi Yuval Sherlo, Malka Pewterkovsky and Dr. Alon Gal. Sherlo discussed the tension between private petitions and obligatory prayers and gender differences in this context; Pewterkovsky spoke about the contents and dilemmas that occupy women in today’s religious world when discussing praying and Gal demonstrated how non-orthodox groups in Israel have adapted and adopted traditional prayers for new uses.

The panel led to much controversy both among the speakers and the audience and generated a lively discussion.