Membership, Community, Diversity

What gender-related issues are important for religious Jews?

Concern for ritual purity has occupied a central place in much of Jewish tradition. Beginning with the Torah’s laws of holiness and continuing in the observance of the stricter branches of Judaism, matters related to female fertility, menstruation, and childbearing, for example, have received a great deal of attention. According to scripture, menstruation renders a woman ritually unclean, as does the birth of a child (for seven days if a boy, fourteen if a girl). Gender has had significant implications in religious as well as social roles, especially in Orthodox and Conservative communities. In modern times the question of whether women should become rabbis has arisen. Reform and Reconstructionist communities do have increasing numbers of female rabbis, and the Conservative Jewish Theological Seminary of America began accepting female candidates not long ago. In Orthodox communities, although women are afforded a position of respect and considered naturally more spiritually elevated than men, rabbis are still exclusively male.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Religion Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App