Joanna Samuels – religious extremism and oppression of women

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Religious extremism and the oppression of women are essentially the same thing.

In the Jewish community, here and in Israel, religiosity is (tragically, incorrectly) expressed by the treatment of women.

The more religious a community is, the more silent and invisible its women are in the public sphere; the less religious a community is, the more access its women have toward public ritual, leadership, and visibility. Witness our own confusion here in the US: “Traditional” communities are places where women do not count in a minyan; “liberal” communities are places where they do.

In my mind, the most religious, most traditional communities are places where the entire population is obligated: obligated to the public performance of ritual, obligated to joining the communal conversation about issues of vital importance, and obligated to the daily, unending work of raising children and creating homes that reflect deep observance of and commitment to Jewish life and law.


Rabbi Joanna Samuels is the Director of Strategic Initiatives for AWP – Advancing Women Professionals and The Jewish Community

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