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  1. arielariel
    arielariel June 23, 2008 at 2:08 pm |

    I just wanted to say this post is right on. I will comment again at more length, but as a Jew and as someone with a lot of friends in seminary, I am excited to see writing like this. I’m glad you’re guesting!

  2. William
    William June 23, 2008 at 2:35 pm |

    I’m just thinking out loud here, but could part of the concern here be less about the faith becoming feminized and more about demographic imbalance? I know that the Jewish faith is matrilineal, but might there be a concern about family structure going on here? It seems to me that if you have more liberal Jewish women than liberal Jewish men, you might then begin to see some social strains when it comes to finding a partner. I would see this as being especially true for people who hold a strong faith, as the issue of marrying someone of a differing faith (or a different sect) is likely more important than for someone who only shows up on high holy days.

    I’m not saying that this is or isn’t the case, or even if its the primary issue, but if anyone with more specialized knowledge in this area than me would like to chime in I’d certainly appreciate it.

  3. DEAF FEMINIST PUNK!!!
    DEAF FEMINIST PUNK!!! June 23, 2008 at 3:01 pm |

    oh MY GOD!!! Lock up your children!!! There are Feminazi’s roaming inside the churches and synagogues!!!!

  4. Roundup Time! « This is What a Feminist Blogs Like

    [...] Feministe: “What about the menz gets religion” by guest blogger Ashely.  I am interested in seeing how this discussion develops because I have a [...]

  5. earlgreyrooibos
    earlgreyrooibos June 23, 2008 at 4:10 pm |

    William-

    Although I’m not Jewish, my fiancé is, so I have some understanding of marriage issues. Basically, it’s a big deal for him to marry a non-Jewish woman. Because the religion is matrilineal, the “Jewish” part can only be passed on through the woman. Meaning our hypothetical children would not be Jewish at birth, which is a moot point, because we’re not having children. Anyway, it’s less of a big deal for a Jewish woman to marry a non-Jewish man, because their children will still be Jewish. I understand that it’s still an issue for a lot of families, though. My fiancé’s father converted from Catholicism to Judaism to marry his mother. So I think you’re partially right, that ideas about intermarriage are driving some of the concern. But because only the mother needs to be Jewish in order to “pass on” the Judaism, I don’t think that’s the entire motivating factor.

    (Jewish people, feel free to correct me if I botched this somehow).

  6. Luna
    Luna June 23, 2008 at 4:46 pm |

    Women have played a bigger part in attending church, baking the cookies for the bake sale, running the Sunday school, and pretty much every aspect of religious life. Except, of course, holding positions of power.

    See, this is one of the things I like about my church (the United Church of Canada – largest protestant denomination in Canada). Women comprise almost 65% of the clergy. We’ve been able to be ordained since 1936. Also, we ordain gay people, and lobbied the government to allow us to marry them.

    It’s not perfect for women in the UCC, but it’s at least as good, if not better, as general Canadian society.

    Oh and x-thread, I don’t think a single person in my congregation believes in demons. :)

  7. Walker T
    Walker T June 23, 2008 at 4:48 pm |

    Wow, this was pretty spot on. Imagine my amusement when just as I was thinking that maybe the decrease in male attendance has to do with the loss of status for religious figures you bring it up.

    The article got one thing right though, this isn’t a strictly jewish thing at all and IMO, it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to attract folks that are growing increasingly apathetic to the whole shindig.

  8. ThickRedGlasses
    ThickRedGlasses June 23, 2008 at 4:52 pm |

    Privileged people always get bent out of shape whenever the playing field gets leveled and things become more fair for everyone.

  9. Chel
    Chel June 23, 2008 at 5:09 pm |

    I see a solution to the problem from both sides.

    Everyone should become atheists and realize what a fuckwad religion is.

    That way women aren’t being owned and controlled by their faith/men and men aren’t whining about there being women in “too powerful” positions in the church/synogogue.

    Yep, that’s it. Just end religion. Who’s with me?

  10. Amanda in San Jose
    Amanda in San Jose June 23, 2008 at 5:28 pm |

    Reform Judaism recognizes children born of Jewish fathers and non Jewish mothers as Jewish, I think. Also, a non-Jewish mom could convert before she gives birth, or babies could be raised Jewish.

  11. Jay
    Jay June 23, 2008 at 7:27 pm |

    “Liberal Judaism” isn’t a movement in the US, but generally is used to refer to the Reform, Reconstructionist and Renewal movements, all of which recognize patrilineal descent. I don’t know if it’s an official movement elsewhere in the world (possible in Britain?). In which case, never mind.

    Women have indeed always been the backbone of religious communities, toiling unpaid as volunteers, and now they have a greater share of the (as you point out) poorly paying jobs available. In our community, many of the traditional volunteer organizations are suffering for lack of people do the work. I don’t think that’s due to the entry of women into the rabbinate but the movement of women into the paid workforce.

  12. Gott in Himmel part 2 « Modern Mitzvot

    [...] 23, 2008 by Brown Shoes Feministe brings us word of the latest front in the culture war, the feminization of Liberal Judaism. The [...]

  13. mythago
    mythago June 23, 2008 at 10:08 pm |

    There’s a lot of controversy about the recognition of patrilineal descent, partly because it’s new, and partly because it requires the kids to be raised as Jews – i.e. it’s not really inclusive because it excludes other people who would traditionally have been considered Jews.

    The article itself (not just the summary posted here) is a lot more complex than “OH NOEZ WOMAN RABBI!”

  14. hendo
    hendo June 23, 2008 at 10:44 pm |

    Hey Ashley,

    I’m still with Chel… You’re trying to retrofit an essentially patriarchal system, and there are plenty of those that we actually need retrofitted already, e.g. workplaces, tax system, universities, the way the Western world deals with developing countries, etc.

    I just don’t see the point of tinkering with religion, wondering whether it’s ok to have this or that change… And as for all the good works that religious organisations do – it’s very nice, but I believe people can also band together without religion in order to do great things.

    And perhaps those of us on the agnostic/athiest/just not particularly religious side wouldn’t feel so frustrated by these kind of debates if religion-in-general didn’t have so much influence on our lives. I don’t need a progressive church: I need a progressive freaking WORLD.

  15. hendo
    hendo June 23, 2008 at 10:45 pm |

    oops… atheist… not athiest! My bad.

  16. The Girl Detective
    The Girl Detective June 24, 2008 at 12:37 am |

    The response, from virtually every denomination, has been to increase barriers to ordination, create new professionalized (but lower paying and lower status) positions for “people” holding a Master of Divinity, and finally to lower the wages of ministers. As you probably know, the lowering of wages is a time-honored way to say, “this profession has a lot of women in it now!”

    Replace “ordination” with “tenure,” “Master of Divinity” with “PhD,” and “ministers” with “professors,” and you’re describing academia. It’s amazing how common these trends are.

  17. Neko Onna
    Neko Onna June 24, 2008 at 1:07 am |

    It sounds a whole lot like the old playground “Nah-nah” syndrome: Meanie ol’ wimminz won’t let the menz be the Undisputed Leaders of Everything, so the menz are taking their ball and going home! That’ll show the meanie wimminz!

    And they WANT these guys back in the picture?

    Get real.

  18. Torri
    Torri June 24, 2008 at 6:48 am |

    While I’d be more in with the ‘down with monotheistic religion’ crowd I’m not sure this is the thread to debate it in…

  19. Brown Shoes
    Brown Shoes June 24, 2008 at 9:34 am |

    Ah, I see we’ve started in with the “bigger issues” crowd – tell me, hondo, when somebody comes along and tells you that your pet issue(s) is/aren’t that big or important overall and that you ought to have bigger worries on your mind or fighting for this/that cause, how would you respond?

    Also, if religion isn’t that important to your progressive world, how do you explain the hundreds of millions of Catholics in places like Central/South America, the Phillipines, etc. for whom the Church IS important, and in many of those areas also fights for progressive change?

  20. William
    William June 24, 2008 at 12:28 pm |

    And perhaps those of us on the agnostic/athiest/just not particularly religious side wouldn’t feel so frustrated by these kind of debates if religion-in-general didn’t have so much influence on our lives. I don’t need a progressive church: I need a progressive freaking WORLD.

    You’re taking a subtle paternalistic stance right there. What you’re saying, essentially, is that you don’t see the need for religion and so the discussion shouldn’t ever consider the religious aspects. You’re saying “what is important to me is what really matters.” The response to having religion intruding upon your life is not to have your atheism intrude on the lives of the religious and hope that you end up stalemating somewhere in the middle. All you’re doing there is pitting two decidedly top-down, one-size-fits-all world views against each other. There is absolutely nothing progressive about intellectual authoritarianism.

  21. all_one
    all_one June 27, 2008 at 4:32 pm |

    I left the church my family attended at age 12 because of sexism. I was agnostic for many years and now
    I am spiritual (quantum physics n all). Generalizations about people who are not atheists makes any atheist spouting generalizations look ignorant and bigoted. Vehement arguments from atheists about non atheists sure come across a lot like religious fanatics arguments.

    In any case, my hope is that more of the organizations that are supported by women are also led by women in the coming years. I’m tired of hearing about the women behind the scenes making the male leaders look good…tired of it in religion, politics, work, academia and family structures.

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