Avoda Shebaguf, Tovlot B’Yerushalim—Women Taking Responsibility Over the Mikveh!, Jerusalem, Israel
Targum Shlishi has provided a seed grant for the Jerusalem-based grassroots project Tovlot B’Yerushalim—Women Taking Responsibility Over the Mikveh! An initiative of the feminist organization Avoda Shebaguf, the mikveh project’s goal is to ensure that the personal, spiritual act of immersing in the mikveh ritual bath be an experience in which women from all denominations of Judaism can find their own personal space. Maintaining the mikveh is a service supplied by the State and the municipality, with all decisions regarding operations, hiring, training, and funding made by men. There has never before been a way for the women who use the mikveh to monitor, improve, or influence the service they receive. The mikveh project launched in 2013 and to date activities have included an investigation of mikveh policies, an extensive survey to solicit information from women about what they see as problems at mikvot, a letter-writing campaign to government officials, a publicity campaign with the media and social media, holding a conference to discuss the issue, and working to form a group of activists united in this cause. Next steps include advocating for women becoming part of the decision-making process for issues related to the mikveh.
Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO), Tel Aviv, Israel
WIZO is dedicated to advancing the status of women in Israel as well as providing for the welfare of all sectors of Israeli society and encouraging Jewish education. Targum Shlishi often supports WIZO initiatives and this year supported both WIZO and WIZO Florida.
JOFA (Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance), “The Torch” Blog, New York
“The Torch” is a new blog organized by JOFA (Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance) and hosted on the website MyJewishLearning.com. “The Torch” explores issues around the topics of gender and religion in the Jewish community and is written by multiple contributors. “The Torch” launched in November 2013 and has attracted many different writers on a variety of subjects. Multiple blog entries have been posted each week and several have generated lively comments. Topics of posts have included mikvehs, prenups and the agunah issue, what it’s like to be an Orthodox feminist undergraduate student at Harvard, and tips for creating a partnership minyan. “The Torch” is named for Deborah the Prophetess, “the woman of torches,” and refers to both Deborah’s torch and feminists “passing the torch” to a new generation. The blog aims to bring together voices from across the Jewish world to explore people’s experience of gender in synagogues, schools, home life, and politics. JOFA is the leading organization advancing social change around gender issues in the Orthodox Jewish community.