Ensuring women have a seat at the communal table
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Ensuring women have a seat at the communal table

With existing branches in the US and UK, the central goal of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA) Australia is to encourage female leadership and female empowerment.

Photo: Dreamstime
Photo: Dreamstime

A NEW organisation launching next weekend is calling for greater opportunities for women to engage within Orthodoxy.

With existing branches in the US and UK, the central goal of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA) Australia is to encourage “female leadership and female empowerment,” according to president Nomi Kaltmann, who told The AJN that more women need to be “at the table during discussions at Jewish Orthodox communal groups”.

She hopes JOFA Australia will pressure shules like Mizrachi, which controversially lost its only female executive member late last year, to motivate women to run for board positions and to support them in their role.

She also wants the group to promote an environment in which women don’t feel threatened or that they’re being “bullied off” committees.

Looking to build better infrastructure for female participation, Kaltmann said it is time for an end to “manels” – male only panels – and that there should be “no more female events at 12pm, in the middle of the day when working women can’t attend”.

JOFA Australia’s vice-president, Sharona Jotkowitz said, “Across Australia there is a growing number of amazing Orthodox women who have strong foundations in Torah-learning and are looking for opportunities to teach and speak. Many of these women are fantastic resources for our community.”

JOFA Australia also plans to partner with other organisations, such as the National Council of Jewish Women of Australia, to promote established initiatives. In addition, it intends to host events, provide ritual training for women and create an Australian female speakers bureau, an “online resource where you can search through a list of women who can speak, who can teach, who can lead in your community,” Kaltmann said.

“One generation plants the seeds and the next generation gets the shade,” she added, “We are planting these seeds so that they can participate and grow the community.”

The launch will be held on Sunday, May 9, from 8pm-9.45pm.

For more information, email n.kaltmann@gmail.com. To attend the launch, visit trybooking.com/746446.

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