Jewish Studies Gender and Modern Jewish Thought
by
Andrea Dara Cooper
  • LAST MODIFIED: 24 February 2021
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199840731-0204

Introduction

Modern Jewish thought has been largely a masculine discursive space in both its historical construction and its focus, which is reflected in the makeup of its accepted canon. Certain figures are generally included in edited collections and syllabi of modern Jewish thought and philosophy. The field’s medieval and early modern antecedents include 12th-century scholar Moses Maimonides and 17th-century thinker Baruch Spinoza. The 18th-century German philosopher Moses Mendelssohn is generally viewed as the “father” of the field. Beginning with the 19th- and 20th-century German philosopher Hermann Cohen, prominent 20th-century figures include the following: German philosophers Franz Rosenzweig and Martin Buber; French-Lithuanian thinker Emmanuel Levinas; American thinkers Mordecai Kaplan, Joseph B. Soloveitchik, and Abraham Joshua Heschel; and post-Holocaust philosophers and theologians Emil Fackenheim, Richard Rubenstein, and Eliezer Berkovits. Other notable figures include founding Reform rabbi Abraham Geiger, Orthodox rabbis Samson Raphael Hirsch and Abraham Isaac Kook, political philosopher Leo Strauss, Israeli Orthodox thinker Yeshayahu Leibowitz, and American rabbi and philosopher Eugene Borowitz. Sometimes the political philosopher Hannah Arendt and feminist theologians such as Judith Plaskow are included, but the entirety of the canon is often male-dominated. Form tends to mirror content in the formation and maintenance of such canons. In these cases, male-dominated discourse, drawn from a network of male thinkers who operate in relation to one another, favors approaches that foreground and privilege the masculine. While this textual corpus has remained largely immune to critiques informed by gender and feminist analysis, important and groundbreaking contributions to the fields of gender and Jewish philosophy have been made. It is not simply a matter of adding women-identified and nonbinary voices to the canon (although any heterogeneity is preferable to none), but of attending to critiques informed by gender and feminist analysis in order to uncover viewpoints and frameworks that have been overlooked. This article includes sources that attend to this aim in a variety of ways and with differing methodologies: texts by women-identified writers and texts about women and gender (in many cases overlapping), texts that critically analyze the construction and preservation of sex and gender hierarchies, texts that uncover philosophical omissions by male-identified thinkers, and texts that philosophically reflect upon experiences and lived realities that have been largely neglected, including embodiment, emotion, affect, vulnerability, maternity, and a feminist ethics of care, among others. These interventions consider, among other foundational questions: Who is included or excluded from the canonical framework? What can contemporary theories of gender teach us about the use of gendered terms in Judaism? In what ways can feminist criticism identify the masculinist assumptions of texts and the hierarchical construction of masculinity and femininity? How does the historical construction of the field reflect exclusive social and political norms? These questions and demands can extend to the ways that we canonically (re)construct the field of modern Jewish thought. This article addresses developments and interventions in critical gender analysis in relation to modern Jewish thought, tracking these contributions in secondary literature to increase their visibility, with an eye to expanding the scope and inclusiveness of the canon in the future.

General Overviews of Modern Jewish Thought

Modern Jewish thought emerges in response to the Jewish encounter with modernity. To begin, it will be helpful to get a sense of the some of the questions animating the field. Among other framing questions, modern Jewish thinkers consider: How should sacred texts be studied and interpreted, and what grants them authority? How should theology be understood and constructed from a Jewish perspective? What is the role of the individual in relation to the community and the nation-state? Is philosophy inherently compatible with Judaism? A great deal was at stake socially and politically in this last question, which allowed those such as Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment) thinker Moses Mendelssohn to make a case for the universality of Jewish ideas and to aim for the full inclusion of Jews in the civic life of the wider German society. Addressing these kinds of questions gives rise to major interrelated themes: revelation and redemption, authority and tradition, pluralism and inclusion, ethics and alterity, suffering and evil. Some of the following overviews refer almost exclusively to male thinkers and do not engage with gender analysis, such as Greenberg 2011, Levenson 2006, Morgan 1992, and Samuelson 1989 (all cited under Single-Authored Works). Batnitzky 2011 (cited under Single-Authored Works) briefly mentions the lack of attention to women and gender in the book’s male-dominated representation of the canon, while Katz 2014 (cited under Single-Authored Works) explicitly includes feminist analysis in an overview of the field. Recent collections, such as Hammerschlag 2018 (cited under Readers and Anthologies), foreground a number of female voices and thinkers. A note on language: references to modern Jewish “thought” as opposed to “philosophy” often signal a volume’s inclusion of figures who may at first seem to fall outside the more rigid, systematic category of Jewish philosophy.

Readers and Anthologies

Dorff and Newman 1999 and Frank, et al. 2000 include reflections by the editors contextualizing the entries, and they are organized thematically and chronologically. Wolfson and Hughes 2010 charts new pathways for Jewish philosophy. Kavka, et al. 2012 and Hammerschlag 2018 provide overviews that invite further theorizing and comparative study.

  • Dorff, Elliot N., and Louis E. Newman. Contemporary Jewish Theology: A Reader. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.

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    This reader is organized into four main sections: (1) selections from early-20th-century Jewish philosophers; (2) essays on God, creation, revelation, covenant, and law from the later 20th century; (3) the impact of the Holocaust and the State of Israel; (4) a symposium on future directions in Jewish theology. The reader includes essays on feminist Jewish theology by Marcia Falk, Ellen M. Umansky, Judith Plaskow, and Rachel Adler.

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  • Frank, Daniel H., Oliver Leaman, and Charles H. Manekin, eds. The Jewish Philosophy Reader. London: Routledge, 2000.

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    An anthology of writings on Jewish philosophy from the Bible to the 20th century, meant to complement the editors’ earlier History of Jewish Philosophy (London: Routledge, 1997). Each section is introduced by the editors. The collection includes sections on “Modern Jewish Thought: Between History and Tradition” and “Modern Jewish Thought and Contemporary Jewish Philosophy.” The latter section includes a subsection on “Issues of Inclusion” with selections by Judith Plaskow, Heidi M. Ravven, and Abraham Isaac Kook (pp. 510–526).

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  • Hammerschlag, Sarah, ed. Modern French Jewish Thought: Writings on Religion and Politics. Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press, 2018.

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    This reader is organized thematically, with introductions to each section of translated readings. Hammerschlag illustrates how French Jewish thought provides an avenue to both challenge the German-centric model of the field and to highlight authors and thinkers often left out of the discussion, including Sarah Kofman, Simone Weil, Albert Memmi, Jacqueline Mesnil-Amar, and Hélène Cixous. Selections consider the themes of Jewish universalism and particularism and dis/identification with the French nation.

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  • Kavka, Martin, Zachary Braiterman, and David Novak, eds. The Cambridge History of Jewish Philosophy. Vol. 2, The Modern Era. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

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    This volume provides a comprehensive overview of Jewish philosophy from the 17th century to the beginning of the 21st century. Essays theorize the nature of modern Jewish philosophy, examine the relationship between philosophy and theology, and investigate continuities with premodern sources. Tirosh-Samuelson 2012 (cited under Chapters in Anthologies) discusses feminism and gender in Jewish philosophy, Koltun-Fromm 2012 (cited under Joseph B. Soloveitchik) situates Rachel Adler’s pluralism in the context of other thinkers, and Elliot R. Wolfson considers Rosenzweig’s reading of hetero-erotic allegory.

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  • Wolfson, Elliot R., and Aaron W. Hughes, eds. New Directions in Jewish Philosophy. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010.

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    In their “Introduction,” the editors propose “a taxonomy that shifts the emphasis from seeing philosophy itself as a derivative to a native dimension of the Jewish religious sensibility” (p. 2). Contributors include Martin Kavka on the role of Emmanuel Levinas in the Jewish philosophical canon; Elliot R. Wolfson on apophasis and vision in the thought of Franz Rosenzweig; Almut Sh. Bruckstein on textual body landscapes and materiality; and Kalman Bland on animals and animality in Jewish philosophy.

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Single-Authored Works

Batnitzky 2011, Greenberg 2011, Katz 2014, Levenson 2006, Morgan 1992, and Samuelson 1989 present overviews of major thinkers in the field, offering philosophical grounding and historical context, with some variation represented in each work on the makeup of the canon. Katz 2014 integrates perspectives inclusive of gender analysis throughout the discussion.

  • Batnitzky, Leora Faye. How Judaism Became a Religion: An Introduction to Modern Jewish Thought. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2011.

    DOI: 10.1515/9781400839711Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This accessible overview discusses how, whereas previously Judaism and Jewishness were at once religion, culture, and nationality, Judaism became a “religion” once Jews acquired citizenship rights in the modern era. Batnitzky briefly notes that the male thinkers under discussion “largely tell the story of the Jewish religion’s invention and conceptual aftereffects, without much self-consciousness about the role of women and gender in modern Jewish life and thought” (p. 4).

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  • Greenberg, Gershon. Modern Jewish Thinkers: From Mendelssohn to Rosenzweig. Brighton, MA: Academic Studies Press, 2011.

    DOI: 10.1515/9781618111470Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Provides commentary and English translations of 19th-century German Jewish and Hebrew texts, including those by Nahman Krokhmal, Salomon Maimon, Samuel Hirsch, Salomon Steinheim, Saul Ascher, David Einhorn, Samuel David Luzzatto, and Hermann Cohen, traversing themes such as revelation and reason, rationalism, and universal morality.

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  • Katz, Claire Elise. An Introduction to Modern Jewish Philosophy. London: I. B. Tauris, 2014.

    DOI: 10.5040/9780755625567Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Katz includes a sustained consideration of the role of gender in the development of modern Jewish philosophy, demonstrating why this area is organic to the field. Topics include the gendered subject in Jewish existentialism; the thought of Simone de Beauvoir and Luce Irigaray in conversation with Jewish philosophy; and the engagement of critical feminist analysis with modern Jewish thinkers, such as Emmanuel Levinas. Clearly written and appropriate for undergraduate-level classes.

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  • Levenson, Alan T. An Introduction to Modern Jewish Thinkers: From Spinoza to Soloveitchik. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006.

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    Chapters are organized around particular thinkers in larger thematic sections, including Spinoza, Mendelssohn, Hirsch, Geiger, Martin Buber, Franz Rosenzweig, Theodor Herzl, Ahad Ha’am, Mordecai Kaplan, Israel Salanter, Abraham Isaac Kook, Joseph B. Soloveitchik, and Heschel. Each chapter includes short selections by the author with guiding questions for the reader.

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  • Morgan, Michael L. Dilemmas in Modern Jewish Thought: The Dialectics of Revelation and History. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992.

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    Chapters are organized thematically on topics such as historiography, ritual law, liberalism, ethics after the Holocaust, and Jewish thought in America. Thinkers discussed include Spinoza, Mendelssohn, Leo Strauss, Peter Berger, Emil Fackenheim, and Franz Rosenzweig.

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  • Samuelson, Norbert M. An Introduction to Modern Jewish Philosophy. New York: State University of New York Press, 1989.

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    This introduction begins with the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 up to the 1980s, presenting major thinkers in their historical context. Specific thinkers discussed are Spinoza, Mendelssohn, Hermann Cohen, Martin Buber, Franz Rosenzweig, Mordechai Kaplan, and Emil Fackenheim.

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General Overviews in Gender and Modern Jewish Thought

This section includes foundational interventions, such as Ravven 1986 (cited under Journal Articles), Tirosh-Rothschild 1994 (cited under Chapters in Anthologies), and Shapiro 1997 (cited under Chapters in Anthologies), which instigated the conversation between Jewish philosophy and feminism. Tirosh-Samuelson 2004 includes a range of Jewish feminist philosophical scholarship, indicating how feminist philosophy and gender analysis enrich Jewish philosophy. Other contributions in this section are located in broader collections dealing with thematic frameworks of the field and in stand-alone journal articles.

Anthologies

The most comprehensive and influential edited collection on the topic of gender and modern Jewish thought is Tirosh-Samuelson 2004, which includes essays that interpret the Jewish philosophical tradition in light of feminist philosophy and engage feminist philosophy from the perspective of Jewish philosophy.

  • Tirosh-Samuelson, Hava, ed. Women and Gender in Jewish Philosophy. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004.

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    In the “Introduction,” Tirosh-Samuelson writes, “Of all the disciplines within Jewish studies, Jewish philosophy has been least affected by feminism” (p. 2). This edited collection represents an effort to widen the scope of the field by attending to the analysis of gender in Jewish philosophy and by containing essays only by women-identified scholars of philosophy. Essays on ancient (Philo), medieval (Maimonides), and modern (Levinas) thinkers demonstrate the necessity of attending to gender analyses.

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Chapters in Anthologies

The essays cited in this subsection span a wide-reaching history of Jewish philosophical approaches. Shapiro 1997 provides a reading of the medieval origins of Jewish philosophy, Tirosh-Rothschild 1994 exposes the Enlightenment epistemologies underlying Jewish philosophy, and Rudavsky 2007 identifies areas of intersection between early modern and contemporary Jewish philosophy and feminist philosophy. Tirosh-Samuelson 2012 discusses how gender analysis exposes the difficulty of demarcating Jewish philosophy from thought or theology (p. 162), among other relevant topics.

  • Rudavsky, Tamar. “Feminism and Modern Jewish Philosophy.” In The Cambridge Companion to Modern Jewish Philosophy. Edited by Michael Morgan and Peter Gordon, 324–347. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

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    Rudavsky argues that Jewish philosophy, unlike Western philosophy, has more in common with feminist philosophy than one may initially think. By focusing on Spinoza and Soloveitchik, the author identifies a number of connections between Jewish philosophy and feminist philosophy, including a focus on the body and embodied thinking, a privileging of multiple and marginal standpoints, and attention to what have classically been defined as “feminine” emotion and actions.

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  • Shapiro, Susan E. “A Matter of Discipline: Reading for Gender in Jewish Philosophy.” In Judaism since Gender. Edited by Miriam Peskowitz and Laura Levitt, 158–173. New York: Routledge, 1997.

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    In this influential essay, Shapiro uncovers the gendered language of Maimonides’s metaphysics, arguing that these tropes both reflect and contribute to unequal relations of power between men and women. “To read for gender is to read for constructions and performances of gender with an interest in the intellectual, religious, and cultural labor these tropes enact in these texts,” with an awareness of their social, political, and cultural consequences (pp. 158–159).

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  • Tirosh-Rothschild, Hava. “Dare to Know: Feminism and the Discipline of Jewish Philosophy.” In Feminist Perspectives on Jewish Studies. Edited by Lynn Davidman and Shelly Tenenbaum, 85–119. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1994.

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    Tirosh-Rothschild (who later publishes as Tirosh-Samuelson) summarizes major strands of feminist philosophy and attempts to explain why it has not made an impact on Jewish philosophy. Due to Jewish philosophy’s commitment to Enlightenment epistemological assumptions, it has been indifferent to feminist philosophy, which challenges these modernist positions. The author argues that Jewish philosophy and feminist philosophy ultimately have much in common and should enter into a potentially transformative conversation.

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  • Tirosh-Samuelson, Hava. “Feminism and Gender.” In The Cambridge History of Jewish Philosophy. Vol. 2, The Modern Era. Edited by Martin Kavka, Zachary Braiterman, and David Novak, 154–189. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

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    Tirosh-Samuelson writes that Jewish philosophy has been reluctant to respond to feminism “because philosophy is committed to the pursuit of abstract, universal truths that are oblivious to the identity of the one who pronounces them” (p. 157). The author provides a thorough account of how gender studies and feminist discourse have influenced the study of Jewish philosophy, including in areas of covenantal law and theology, psychology and epistemology, ethics and politics.

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Journal Articles

Ravven 1986 challenges the field to initiate a conversation between Jewish philosophy and feminism. This invitation is taken up in Oppenheim 1996, which seeks to advance the “neglected dialogue between feminist Jewish thought and Jewish philosophy” (p. 147); and Benjamin 2019, which discusses the identification of agency with reason in the intersection of religious studies and gender studies, analyzing feminist scholarship on agency in modern Jewish thought and Jewish Studies.

  • Benjamin, Mara. “Agency as Quest and Question: Feminism, Religious Studies, and Modern Jewish Thought.” Jewish Social Studies 24.2 (2019): 7–16.

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    In reassessing “The Great Men of Modern Jewish Thought,” Benjamin identifies “the limits of the all-male canon of modern Jewish thinkers, thinkers as often beatified as analyzed in scholarship on Jewish philosophy and religious thought.” The author analyzes and offers alternatives to the “intractably androcentric nature” of this subfield and “a more general failure to render visible the hidden gender economy underneath modern Jewish thinkers’ most influential texts” (pp. 10–12).

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  • Oppenheim, Michael. “Feminism, Jewish Philosophy, and Religious Pluralism.” Modern Judaism 16.2 (1996): 147–160.

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    This article responds to Tirosh-Rothschild 1994 (cited under Chapters in Anthologies), observing that “most modern Jewish philosophers have yet to seriously respond or even acknowledge the existence of” feminist Jewish thought (p. 147). Oppenheim focuses on religious pluralism to provide a model for the richness that feminist Jewish thought and feminist thought more broadly can bring to Jewish philosophy. The author also provides working definitions of the key terms in the title.

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  • Ravven, Heidi. “Creating a Jewish Feminist Philosophy.” Anima 12.2 (1986): 99–112.

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    Ravven initiates the conversation between Jewish philosophy and feminist thought with this article, challenging scholars of Jewish philosophy to engage with feminist philosophical approaches. This article advances a feminist contribution to Jewish political theory, drawing from women’s experiences to form new models for covenantal ethics, family relationships, Halakha (Jewish law), and the relationship of the individual to the public realm.

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Monographs

Katz 2003 combines feminist readings of Levinas with interpretations of his Jewish writings, exploring shifts in contemporary philosophy away from a focus on death toward the creation of life and care for the other. Ross 2004 proposes philosophical approaches within the Jewish tradition through which Halakha (Jewish law) can be transformed alongside a sustained feminist critique. Benjamin 2018 approaches maternity as a complex site of moral agency, finding parallels between divinely ordained obligations and the daily demands of parenting.

  • Benjamin, Mara. The Obligated Self: Maternal Subjectivity and Jewish Thought. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2018.

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    Benjamin puts maternal experience into conversation with central themes in Jewish thought, showing that the relationship with the child is fruitful terrain for theological and ethical models of intersubjectivity. Appropriate both for undergraduates and specialists, this book challenges the tendency to relegate “gender, race, and most other factors that affect social life” to the superficial sphere in Jewish thought and theology, demonstrating how daily realities contain religious and ethical significance (p. 122).

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  • Katz, Claire Elise. Levinas, Judaism, and the Feminine: The Silent Footsteps of Rebecca. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003.

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    Katz demonstrates that the traditional Jewish themes shaping Levinas’s thought on the feminine can offer a more nuanced, gender-conscious reading of his work. Clearly written and appropriate both for undergraduates and specialists, this book clarifies important philosophical concepts in 20th-century Jewish thought by reading Levinas’s thought within a Judaic framework, analyzing his philosophical and religious texts side by side.

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  • Ross, Tamar. Expanding the Palace of Torah: Orthodoxy and Feminism. Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press, 2004.

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    Ross presents an interpretive approach within Orthodox Judaism that engages with feminist critique. Through a philosophical examination, this book challenges the central idea of divine revelation. Ross seeks to develop a theological response acknowledging the androcentric bias of Judaism’s traditional texts.

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Expanding the Canon

This section is loosely organized around approaches to the field that expand the traditional canon of modern Jewish thought by asking a question central to feminist analysis: what approaches and interpretations are overlooked? Behar and Benite 2013 challenges the field’s Eurocentric model; Butler 2012 proposes including Jewish feminist thinkers such as Judith Plaskow and Rachel Adler into the field’s disciplinary narrative; the attention given in Koltun-Fromm 2015 to visuality includes both thinkers (Adler and Kaye/Kantrowitz) and texts (from cookbooks to critical theory) beyond the usual male-dominated suspects; Oppenheim 2007 and Oppenheim 2017 bring post-Freudian and relational psychoanalysis into the conversation; Shapiro 1998 illustrates how to create feminist space through commentary; Rose 1992 breaks new philosophical ground in a wide-reaching study of law, ethics, phenomenology, feminist thought, and literary criticism; Tirosh-Samuelson 2014 models autobiographical account as philosophical meditation; Wolfson 2011 makes a case for American thinker Edith Wyschogrod’s firm place in the canon; and Wyschogrod 2006 embraces a philosophy of embodiment, maintaining that corporeality must be preserved in the interest of ethics. These interventions help point the way toward an inclusive reimagining of the canon.

  • Behar, Moshe, and Zvi Ben-Dor Benite, eds. Modern Middle Eastern Jewish Thought: Writings on Identity, Politics, and Culture, 1893–1958. Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press, 2013.

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    The essays collected here, with editors’ introductions, challenge a Eurocentric model to modern Jewish thought by opening up the canon to include writings from the Arab East on topics including colonialism, secularization, and the rise of nationalism. Writings by Ya’qub Sannu’, Esther Azhari Moyal, and Jacqueline Shohet Kahanoff are included.

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  • Butler, Deidre. “Modern Jewish Thought and Jewish Feminist Thought: An Uncommon Conversation.” Religion Compass 6.1 (2012): 51–71.

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    Butler observes that although “most histories and anthologies of modern Jewish thought do not normatively include Jewish feminist thinkers as significant contributors,” the field would be enriched by including feminist thinkers like Plaskow and Adler (p. 51). A comparative approach foregrounds common themes shared by modern Jewish thought and Jewish feminist thought, such as Jewish identity, tradition and Halakha, revelation, the authority of sacred texts, and the diversity of Jewish communities.

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  • Koltun-Fromm, Ken. Imagining Jewish Authenticity: Vision and Text in American Jewish Thought. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2015.

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    Koltun-Fromm illustrates a “turf war” in the field: “The rubric ‘Jewish thought’ already expands upon the more limited category of ‘Jewish philosophy’ to include texts usually on the outside of an accepted canon” (p. 10). Koltun-Fromm expands this focus to trace the graphic sensibilities of American Jewish thinkers, including Bernard Rosenblatt, Heschel, Rachel Adler, and Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz, illustrating how images and texts work together in their approaches.

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  • Oppenheim, Michael D. “Feminist Jewish Philosophy: A Response.” Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women’s Studies & Gender Issues 14 (Fall 2007): 209–232.

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    This article examines how feminist Jewish theory and philosophy illuminate philosophical issues such as justice, embodiment, and relationality. Oppenheim takes as a departure the observations in Tirosh-Rothschild 1994 (cited under Chapters in Anthologies) on the lack of dialogue between contemporary Jewish philosophers and feminist Jewish thought. The article concludes by discussing post-Freudian psychoanalysis as a resource for feminist Jewish thought.

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  • Oppenheim, Michael D. Contemporary Psychoanalysis and Modern Jewish Philosophy: Two Languages of Love. New York: Routledge, 2017.

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    Oppenheim brings together relational psychoanalysis and modern Jewish philosophy to examine the dynamics of human relationships. Through a constructive study, the author examines the roles of love and intersubjectivity in Jessica Benjamin’s psychoanalytic works and the place of love in the discourse of Jewish philosophers of encounter, including Buber, Rosenzweig, and Levinas, among other points of focus.

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  • Rose, Gillian. The Broken Middle: Out of Our Ancient Society. Oxford: Blackwell, 1992.

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    Rose rethinks the modern philosophical tradition through an examination of theology; Jewish thought; feminist criticism; and legal, literary, political, and social theories, aiming to uncover the ancient political prehistory of modernity. In chapter 5, “Love and the State,” Rose examines the life, thought, and politics of three German Jewish women within the political and social crises of their time: Rahel Varnhagen, Rosa Luxemburg, and Hannah Arendt. Reading them alongside feminist political theory, literary criticism, and social thought, Rose shows how each figure exposed the inequality and insufficiency of the universal political community.

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  • Shapiro, Susan E. “Toward a Postmodern Judaism: A Response.” In Reasoning after Revelation: Dialogues In Postmodern Jewish Philosophy. Edited by Steven Kepnes, Peter Ochs, and Robert Gibbs, 77–87. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1998.

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    In the section “I Can Imagine What a Feminist Would Say,” Shapiro marks the lack of feminist intervention and the general absence of women’s voices in the volume’s dialogue, which have transformative implications to topics such as community, circumcision, and the immemorial. The author examines the possibilities of creating feminist space through commentary.

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  • Tirosh-Samuelson, Hava. “Jewish Philosophy: A Personal Account.” In Jewish Philosophy for the Twenty-First Century: Personal Reflections. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2014.

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    In a volume that encourages contemporary Jewish thinkers to reflect on their own personal biographies, the author relates her approach to Jewish philosophy as intellectual history, viewing philosophy as cultural practice. The essay discusses how her research evolved over time from medieval and early modern Jewish philosophy and mysticism to contemporary concerns of feminism, environmentalism, and transhumanism, making a case for contextual, cross-cultural, and interdisciplinary approaches to philosophy.

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  • Wolfson, Elliot R. “Apophasis and the Trace of Transcendence: Wyschogrod’s Contribution to a Postmodern Jewish Immanent a/Theology.” Philosophy Today 55.4 (November 2011): 334–340.

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    Wolfson makes a case for including Edith Wyschogrod in the modern Jewish thought canon, given her vast contributions to the disciplines of philosophy and religious studies. While scholarship has engaged her interpretation of Emmanuel Levinas and her interventions in phenomenology, postmodernism, aesthetics, ethics, politics, and historiography, Wolfson calls attention to “her status as a creative Jewish thinker,” charting how she offers a deconstructive Jewish philosophy of “‘immanent a/theology’” (p. 328). See also Elliot R. Wolfson, Giving beyond the Gift: Apophasis and Overcoming Theomania (New York: Fordham University Press, 2014).

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  • Wyschogrod, Edith. Crossover Queries: Dwelling with Negatives, Embodying Philosophy’s Others. New York: Fordham University Press, 2006.

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    In this pathbreaking collection of essays, Wyschogrod reads 20th-century European philosophers such as Heidegger, Foucault, Derrida, Emmanuel Levinas, and Kristeva alongside both traditional Jewish thought and modern art, music, and dance, with a focus on themes of embodiment. Wyschogrod illustrates how the asceticism of traditional modes of religiosity develops into a contemporary erotics of transcendence, ultimately opening the way for a Levinasian ethics of transcendence.

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Gender and Feminist Analysis of Major Figures and Movements

This section addresses transformational feminist and gender analyses of major (usually male) figures and movements in modern Jewish thought, including medieval and early modern antecedents, 18th-century and 19th-century figures and movements such as the Wissenschaft des Judentums (Science of Judaism), and 20th-century thinkers. The gendered concepts of certain figures, particularly Emmanuel Levinas, have come in for quite a bit of scholarly examination, and this section focuses on analyses that reflect on Levinas’s thought in the context of both Judaism and gender analysis, such as Katz 2003 (cited under and Emmanuel Levinas). Other major thinkers, such as Franz Rosenzweig, have historically come in for less criticism, but they have generated critical attention to gender in more recent scholarship, such as Braiterman 2007 (cited under Franz Rosenzweig) and Benjamin 2019 (cited under Journal Articles).

Medieval and Early Modern

While Dobbs-Weinstein 2004, Pessin 2004, Shapiro 1997, Ravven 2004, and Ravven 2009 deal with medieval and early modern thinkers such as Moses Maimonides and Baruch Spinoza, these figures and the analyses in the essays are highly pertinent to questions animating the study of modern Jewish philosophy. Modern Jewish thought continues to ask questions established in medieval and early modern Jewish philosophy regarding the place of authority and tradition, authorship and transmission, language and translation, and reason and faith. Authors of the works cited read these works through the lens of gender and feminist analysis. Kabbalistic approaches in the medieval and Early Modern eras are also influential to modern Jewish thinkers, as can be seen in Wolfson 2005 (cited under Religious Studies); for more on this nexus, including a section on “Kabbalah in Modern Jewish Thought,” see Oxford Bibliographies in Jewish Studies article “Modern Kabbalah.”

  • Dobbs-Weinstein, Idit. “Thinking Desire in Gersonides and Spinoza.” In Women and Gender in Jewish Philosophy. Edited by Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, 51–77. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004.

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    Dobbs-Weinstein argues that Western philosophy is based on a fusion of Platonism and Christianity, traces of which can be found in the feminist critique of Western philosophy. This essay examines how the Jewish philosophical approaches of Gersonides in the 14th century and Spinoza in the 17th century “provide concrete examples for a critique of the modern universal (male) subject whose disembodied knowledge implicitly underlies all modern ethics and political philosophy” (p. 57).

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  • Pessin, Sarah. “Loss, Presence, and Gabirol’s Desire: Medieval Jewish Philosophy and the Possibility of a Feminist Ground.” In Women and Gender in Jewish Philosophy. Edited by Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, 27–50. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004.

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    Pessin addresses Western philosophy’s association of the feminine with evil and loss, tracing this concept in Greek philosophy, Neoplatonist thought, and Jewish philosophy in the work of Philo and Maimonides. The feminine is linked with passivity as a negative and subordinate state associated with “privation, deprivation and depravity” (p. 31). In contrast, in the metaphysics of Solomon ibn Gabirol (11th century), Pessin uncovers the possibility of a feminist ground.

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  • Ravven, Heidi Miriam. “Spinoza’s Ethics of the Liberation of Desire.” In Women and Gender in Jewish Philosophy. Edited by Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, 78–105. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004.

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    Focusing on Spinoza’s practical and embodied approach to thinking, Ravven makes a case both for his place in the canon of Jewish philosophy and as a thinker whose work speaks to feminist critical approaches. Spinoza “was the first to recognize, articulate, and try to develop a remedy for what feminists have called the personal effects of the political” (p. 80). In Ravven’s view, Spinoza is thus an important model for liberation from oppression.

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  • Ravven, Heidi Morrison. “What Spinoza Can Teach Us about Embodying and Naturalizing Ethics.” In Feminist Interpretations of Benedict Spinoza. Edited by Moira Gatens, 125–144. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2009.

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    Ravven suggests that Spinoza’s naturalistic ethics offer an alternative to standard Western accounts that do not acknowledge their Christian theological underpinnings. Spinoza’s alternative ethics, which draw from Jewish and Islamic thought, can be a resource for feminist theorists because of their shared concerns in embodied and situated thinking.

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  • Shapiro, Susan E. “A Matter of Discipline: Reading for Gender in Jewish Philosophy.” In Judaism since Gender. Edited by Miriam Peskowitz and Laura Levitt, 158–173. New York: Routledge, 1997.

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    Shapiro exposes the gendered language of Maimonides’s metaphysics, pointing out that Maimonides’s own use of rhetoric challenges Jewish philosophers to reconsider the relationship between rhetoric and philosophy. This, in turn, can lead to incorporating feminist critical strategies into Jewish philosophical approaches.

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Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

This section includes discussions of women, the study of gender, and queer theory in relation to major figures and movements of the Jewish Enlightenment period (Haskalah), including foundational figure Moses Mendelssohn (Garloff 2016, Reznik 2018, and Shapiro 2009), Leopold Zunz and the Wissenschaft des Judentums (Baird 1997 and Schorsch 2011), Samson Raphael Hirsch (Ellenson 2011), the German and Bohemian Haskalah (Hecht 2007 and Hecht 2011), and the European Reform movement (Meyer 2011).

  • Baird, Robert J. “Boys of the Wissenshaft.” In Judaism Since Gender. Edited by Miriam Peskowitz and Laura Levitt, 86–94. New York: Routledge, 1997.

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    Baird responds to Peskowitz 1995 (cited under Religious Studies) by uncovering a veiled “Christian-ness” that is linked to masculinism in the Jewish Enlightenment approach of the Wissenschaft des Judentums (Science of Judaism). This essay treats “historical moments as already imbricated with philosophical and gendered meanings and the conditions for the possibility of philosophy as nascent in the exigencies of history” (p. 87).

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  • Ellenson, David. “German Orthodox Rabbinical Writings on the Jewish Textual Education of Women: The Views of Samson Raphael Hirsch and Rabbi Esriel Hildesheimer.” In Gender and Jewish History. Edited by Marion A. Kaplan and Deborah Dash Moore, 158–169. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2011.

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    Ellenson describes the attitudes of 19th-century leaders of modern Orthodox Judaism Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch and Rabbi Esriel Hildesheimer toward the Jewish education of women. The development of their stances meant that “classical textual education would become a reality for ever-increasing numbers of Jewish women, thereby making it possible for the voices of women and their concerns to be heard in the public square of Jewish communal religious life” (pp. 159–160).

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  • Garloff, Katja. Mixed Feelings: Tropes of Love in German Jewish Culture. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2016.

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    Garloff considers how metaphors of love in German Jewish culture reflect the social and political realities of Jews in German-speaking countries since the late 18th century. This book investigates romantic love as a cultural and social trope during the Jewish Emancipation, the model of interfaith love in Mendelssohn and Lessing, revelatory love in Franz Rosenzweig and Else Lasker-Schüler, and works by Gershom Scholem, Hannah Arendt, and Barbara Honigmann, among others.

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  • Hecht, Louise. “Jüdische Frauen zwischen Emanzipation und Tradition.” In Beste aller Frauen: Weibliche Dimensionen im Judentum. Edited by Gabriele Kohlbauer-Fritz and Wiebke Krohn, 144–157. Wien, Austria: Jüdisches Museum Wien, 2007.

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    This essay discusses the reception of Glückel von Hameln’s memoirs in the 19th century, when the manuscript was published. Hecht points out that because Glückel’s autobiography was written in Yiddish and contained central elements of folk traditions and narratives, it did not gain a wide reception until after the Enlightenment period, due to the Haskalah’s rejection of both Yiddish and popular religion. The essay goes on to discuss Jewish women’s experiences between emancipation and tradition.

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  • Hecht, Louise. “The Haskalah in Bohemia and Moravia: A Gendered Perspective.” In The Enlightenment in Bohemia: Religion, Morality and Multiculturalism. Edited by Ivo Cerman, Rita Krueger, and Susan Reynolds, 253–272. Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2011.

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    Hecht distinguishes the Prague Haskalah from its German counterpart not only in its moderation and cultural nationalism, but in its approach to gender and the roles of women. This article examines three test cases that illustrate the unique approach of the Bohemian Haskalah around 1800: German-Jewish schools, the first German-Jewish periodical, Jüdischdeutsche Monatschrift, and German prayer books for women.

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  • Meyer, Michael A. “Women in the Thought and Practice of the European Jewish Reform Movement.” In Gender and Jewish History. Edited by Marion A. Kaplan and Deborah Dash Moore, 139–157. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2011.

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    Meyer discusses the relation of the Jewish Reform movement to issues of gender and the involvement of women in Central and Western Europe. This chapter addresses how leading reformers responded to the status of women in the movement, identifies the women who played significant roles in the movement, and discusses the effects of increasing attention to women’s religious sensibilities on the development of Reform Judaism.

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  • Reznik, Larisa. “This Power Which Is Not One: Queer Temporality, Jewish Difference, and the Concept of Religion in Mendelssohn’s Jerusalem.” Journal of Jewish Identities 11.1 (January 2018): 143–177.

    DOI: 10.1353/jji.2018.0011Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This article proposes reading Mendelssohn’s Jerusalem through the lends of queer theory, considering the extent to which his construction of religion is bound up with political power. Reznik explains that queer theory can help readers see “how power works by combining and coordinating distinct concepts and practices to appear as commonsensically, inevitably belonging together (or, conversely, not belonging together)” (p. 146).

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  • Schorsch, Ismar. “Wives and Wissenschaft: The Domestic Seedbed of Critical Scholarship.” In Gender and Jewish History. Edited by Marion A. Kaplan and Deborah Dash Moore, 27–43. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2011.

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    Schorsch provides an intellectual history of Leopold Zunz through a focus on his relationship with Adelheid, his wife, that “not only does justice to someone critical to his well-being, but also provides an alternative lens through which to view him” (p. 28). Of Adelheid’s influence on Leopold, Schorsch writes, “her entrance into his life manifestly strengthened his resolve to link his destiny to the welfare of his people” (p. 36).

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  • Shapiro, Susan E. “The Status of Women and Jews in Moses Mendelssohn’s Social Contract Theory: An Exceptional Case.” The German Quarterly 82.3 (2009): 373–394.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1756-1183.2009.00055.xSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Shapiro examines Mendelssohn’s contribution to social contract theory, focusing on a divorcing couple’s pending course case. This essay outlines how Mendelssohn uses the marriage contract to argue for equality for men and women on the grounds of both religious freedom and the education of children.

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Twentieth Century

Notable canonical modern Jewish thinkers begin with the 19th- and 20th-century German philosopher Hermann Cohen, and usually include the following 20th-century figures: German philosophers Franz Rosenzweig and Martin Buber, French-Lithuanian thinker Emmanuel Levinas, and American thinkers Mordecai Kaplan, Joseph B. Soloveitchik, and Abraham Joshua Heschel, among others. Dialogical thinkers Rosenzweig, Buber, and Levinas, in particular, focus on human intersubjectivity and its ethical and theological possibilities, regarding relationality as the core of being human. How can feminist philosophy shed light on and complicate their approaches to otherness and alterity? When read with attention to gender, scholars have varying responses to these thinkers’ works, highlighting both their possibilities and their limitations. For example, Batnizky 2004 (cited under Martin Buber) sees fruitful terrain for feminist thought in Cohen’s account of virtue, Katz 2003 (cited under Emmanuel Levinas) explores productive links between the feminine and Judaism in Levinas’s work, and Braiterman 2007 and Benjamin 2019 (both cited under Franz Rosenzweig) provide critical rereadings of Rosenzweig on gender and eroticism. Many contributions in the following subsections discuss more than one major thinker, which is noted in the text’s summaries, but they are organized alphabetically according to thinker for ease of use.

Hannah Arendt

The political philosopher Hannah Arendt (b. 1906–d. 1975) is often considered a liminal figure in modern Jewish thought, generally positioned as adjacent to the canon or outside of it entirely, as is evidenced by edited collections, anthologies, and syllabi. Sometimes, she is the only non-male thinker included in works on post-Holocaust philosophy, and often she is excluded from those as well. Although she reflects philosophically on Judaism and Jewish identity, her work does not engage with her positionality as a woman, or with questions of gender or feminist critique. Why, then, should she be included in this section? Disch 1995 and Maslin 2013 maintain that despite the lack of attention Arendt pays to the concept of gender, especially in comparison to her complex theorizing on other aspects of identity, Arendt’s work can nevertheless serve as an important resource for feminist thought. While a number of works have investigated Arendt’s relationship to Jewish identity and gender identity, this section focuses on the intersection among Arendt’s thought, Judaism, and gender. On the relationship between these themes, Ring 1997 argues that “Arendt’s ‘Jewishness’ affected the content and structure of her scholarship, and that her ‘femaleness’ affected the way her work was received, especially with regard to her most controversial work, Eichmann in Jerusalem” (p. 2). Hahn 2005 locates a discussion of Arendt among other Jewish female intellectuals and literary figures who uncover the exclusionary patterns inherent to German culture, and Bar On 1996, Kaplan 1995, and Pitkin 1995 explore themes of Jewish and female identity in Arendt’s work.

  • Bar On, Bat-Ami. “Women in Dark Times: Rahel Varnhagen, Rosa Luxemburg, Hannah Arendt, and Me.” In Her Voices: Hermeneutics of the Feminine. Edited by Fabio B. Dasilva and Mathew Kanjirathinkal, 105–126. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1996.

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    The essay analyzes Arendt’s biographical work on Rachel Varnhagen and Rosa Luxemburg in relation to her metaphorical concept of dark times. Bar On considers Arendt’s analysis of Jewishness through a biographical-political framework, which includes the author’s reflection on her own relationship to Jewish identity. The author observes that Arendt did not respond to gender with the same critical complexity that she applied to Jewishness.

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  • Disch, Lisa J. “On Friendship in ‘Dark Times.’” In Feminist Interpretations of Hannah Arendt. Edited by Bonnie Honig, 285–311. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1995.

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    In Arendt’s essay “On Humanity in Dark Times: Thoughts about Lessing,” Disch finds Arendt performing how to acknowledge her Jewish identity as a political fact while at the same time refuting it, as she questions the foundationalist tradition of German Enlightenment humanism. For Disch, Arendt’s refusal of an externally conferred identity in the Lessing address can be a resource for the project of rewriting her position on intersectional feminist subjectivity.

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  • Hahn, Barbara. The Jewess Pallas Athena: This Too a Theory of Modernity. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005.

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    Hahn reads German culture through the lens of female Jewish writers, including Hannah Arendt, Rahel Varnhagen, Gertrud Kantorowicz, Rosa Luxemburg, Else Lasker-Schüler, and Margete Susman. The book presents a genealogy of women’s critical engagement with German culture from 1750 to the mid-20th century, uncovering its exclusionary logic.

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  • Kaplan, Morris B. “Refiguring the Jewish Question: Arendt, Proust, and the Politics of Sexuality.” In Feminist Interpretations of Hannah Arendt. Edited by Bonnie Honig, 105–134. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1995.

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    In this essay, Kaplan views Arendt’s commitment to equal citizenship as supporting a democratic sexual politics. Kaplan analyzes Arendt’s historicization of the “Jewish question” to critically trace the 19th-century racialization of Jewishness and the naturalization of homosexuality as fixed identities rather than as contingent and historically located.

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  • Maslin, Kimberly. “The Gender‐Neutral Feminism of Hannah Arendt.” Hypatia 28.3 (2013): 585–601.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1527-2001.2012.01288.xSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Maslin provides a comprehensive analysis of scholarly responses to Arendt’s Jewish identity in relation to gender. Arendt’s interest “is not in gender as such, but in woman as assimilated Jew or woman as social and political revolutionary” (p. 585). In Maslin’s view, because Arendt offered insight into how the different facets of one’s identity affect social and political opportunities, “there is an Arendtian approach to feminism that is worthy of serious reconsideration” (p. 586).

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  • Pitkin, Hanna Fenichel. “Conformism, Housekeeping, and the Attack of the Blob: The Origins of Hannah Arendt’s Concept of the Social.” In Feminist Interpretations of Hannah Arendt. Edited by Bonnie Honig, 51–82. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1995.

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    Pitkin traces the concept of “society” in Arendt’s Rahel Varnhagen and The Jew as Pariah, and the later construction of “the social” in The Human Condition. In a section on “The Biographical Origins of the Social” (pp. 64–73), Pitkin focuses on Arendt’s Jewish identity in relation to the Varnhagen biography. For Arendt, “the social” is linked to labor that is gendered feminine.

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  • Ring, Jennifer. The Political Consequences of Thinking: Gender and Judaism in the Work of Hannah Arendt. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997.

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    Ring reads Arendt’s work, particularly the controversy surrounding the publication of Eichmann in Jerusalem, through the lens of feminist analysis. The book focuses on issues of gender and ethnicity to consider “the impact of her Jewish identity specifically on her intellectual work, and her gender on her work’s reception” (p. 1). Ring goes on to investigate Jewish themes in Arendt’s major theoretical works, including The Life of the Mind.

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Eugene Borowitz

Levitt 1997 provides a critical analysis of hetero-compulsory marriage, showing that theological and ethical approaches in which “heterosexual procreative marriage is the critical metaphor,” such as those espoused by Eugene Borowitz (b. 1924–d. 2016), are by definition exclusionary and limiting (p. 87). The covenantal metaphor then becomes a prescription to create the Jewish biological future. In such cases, the heterosexual family is assumed to be the procreative family; non-heterosexual families are omitted, as are, presumably, heterosexual non-procreative families. Levitt thus makes clear “the material implications, the limitations, and the dangers posed by this kind of theologizing of the sexual contract as a vision of Jewish community and home” (p. 89). In the chapter “Ethics and Halacha” (pp. 25–32), Rose 1993 discusses the work of Eugene Borowitz, Emil Fackenheim, and Aharon Lichtenstein, responding to the question of whether there is an ethics beyond Halakha (Jewish law) by proposing an inversion: there may be law beyond Halakha and only then “an ethics.” In particular, Rose focuses on Borowitz’s views regarding the changing status and role of women. Of further interest in Rose 1993 is the chapter “Angry Angels: Simone Weil and Emmanuel Levinas” (pp. 211–224), in which Rose reads both thinkers alongside and through one another, proposing that the negative characterization of their respective spiritual Other—for Weil, rabbinic Judaism, and for Levinas, Weil’s Christianity—indicates a residue of violence in each of their own thought.

  • Levitt, Laura. Jews and Feminism: The Ambivalent Search for Home. New York: Routledge, 1997.

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    In her reading of Borowitz’s liberal theology and ethics, Levitt points out the consequences of defending monogamous, procreative heterosexual marriage over and against feminism and non-heterosexual relationships. Borowitz “claims that his objections to queer families is about protecting the biological future of the Jewish people” (p. 88). But Levitt points out the trouble with identifying a narrative of continuity along biological lines, especially in reference to the minority status of Jews.

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  • Rose, Gillian. Judaism and Modernity: Philosophical Essays. Oxford: Blackwell, 1993.

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    In the chapter “Ethics and Halacha” (pp. 25–32), Rose argues that the relation of law and ethics is as problematic “outside” Judaism as it is within it. Rose maintains that Borowitz is right to highlight the changing status and role of women as a crucial test for Halakha, but she argues that neither Aharon Lichtenstein nor Borowitz, who imports the Kantian categorical morality into Judaism, are able to remedy “the changing ‘status’ of women without confronting directly the modern problematic of freedom together with its conceptual and political antinomies” (p. 32).

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Martin Buber

Batnizky 2004 and Benjamin 2013 point out the shortcomings of Martin Buber (b. 1878–d. 1965) and other 20th-century Jewish thinkers in regards to gender, but each suggests a model for drawing from their ideas in order to move beyond these limitations; for Batnitzky, this involves a feminist ethics of care, and for Benjamin, a philosophical and theological account of maternal intersubjectivity. See also Butler 2011 (cited under Emil Fackenheim), which discusses Buber’s thought alongside Emmanuel Levinas and Emil Fackenheim as a resource for a constructive feminist ethics of relationship.

  • Batnizky, Leora. “Dependency and Vulnerability: Jewish and Feminist Existentialist Constructions of the Human.” In Women and Gender in Jewish Philosophy. Edited by Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, 127–152. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004.

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    Batnitzky critically analyzes the use of the category of “the feminine” in the existential approaches of Buber, Franz Rosenzweig, and Emmanuel Levinas, exploring how ethics and responsibility are drawn from human dependence and vulnerability. In these Jewish philosophers’ uncritical uses of terms such as “feminine,” “woman,” and “mother,” we can see “some of the ways in which oppressed communities knowingly and unknowingly reproduce majority prejudices” (p. 144).

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  • Benjamin, Mara. “Intersubjectivity Meets Maternity: Buber, Levinas, and the Eclipsed Relation.” In Thinking Jewish Culture in America. Edited by Ken Koltun-Fromm, 261–284. Lanham, MD: Lexington, 2013.

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    Although Buber, Levinas, and other 20th-century European Jewish thinkers “had little (and little of use) to say regarding women and gender,” Benjamin turns to the discourse of intersubjectivity developed by these thinkers as a resource for foregrounding the theological and philosophical meaning of maternal practice and the daily care of young children (p. 275). The accounts of intersubjectivity of Buber and Levinas can point the way to a Jewish theological account of maternal activity.

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Hermann Cohen

In a critique of the concept of the “feminine” in Martin Buber, Franz Rosenzweig, and Emmanuel Levinas, Batnizky 2004 finds the thought of Hermann Cohen (b. 1842–d. 1918) to offer a way forward. Batnizky maintains that Cohen’s concept of the interdependent and vulnerable human being can complement a feminist philosophy of care, despite the tendency for this aspect of his thought to be overshadowed by his neo-Kantian framework.

  • Batnizky, Leora. “Dependency and Vulnerability: Jewish and Feminist Existentialist Constructions of the Human.” In Women and Gender in Jewish Philosophy. Edited by Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, 127–152. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004.

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    Through conversation with feminist philosophers of care, Batnitzky suggests that Cohen’s thought can supplement and potentially correct Jewish existentialist accounts of the human on the question of “the feminine.” “Just as contemporary feminist philosophers of care are attempting to balance their arguments with stronger accounts of justice, so too could Jewish existentialist approaches benefit from reconsideration and a re-appropriation” of Cohen’s rationalized account of virtue (p. 148).

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Emil Fackenheim

Emil Fackenheim (b. 1916–d. 2003) is principally known for his philosophical and theological responses to the Holocaust. Both Ravven 1997 and Butler 2011 find in Fackenheim’s thought a resource for forming new philosophical and theological feminist models, drawing on Fackenheim’s notions of memory, rupture, and repair to find alternative and dynamic modes of ethical engagement.

  • Butler, Deidre. “Disturbing Boundaries: Developing Jewish Feminist Ethics with Buber, Levinas and Fackenheim.” Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 10.3 (2011): 325–350.

    DOI: 10.1080/14725886.2011.608550Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    By strategically engaging the thought of Martin Buber, Emmanuel Levinas, and Fackenheim, Butler proposes a constructive feminist rereading that highlights the promise and challenge their work presents for Jewish feminist ethics. These critiques elicit three corresponding Jewish feminist ethical frameworks: the ethics of relationship, alterity, and presence. Butler’s ethic of presence, which takes into account unequal power relations, vulnerability, community, and communal memory, emerges from an engagement with Fackenheim’s thought.

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  • Ravven, Heidi M. “Observations on Jewish Philosophy and Feminist Thought.” Judaism 46.4 (1997): 422–438.

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    Ravven argues that Fackenheim’s model of Jewish philosophy is well suited to respond dynamically to the challenges posed by feminism and feminist philosophy because it engages in critical reflection upon both history and philosophy. This article proposes a dynamic model of Jewish and feminist philosophy that is based on group memory, rather than belief, as a common ground for shared Jewish and female identities.

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Emmanuel Levinas

Within French thought and 20th-century continental philosophy more broadly, Emmanuel Levinas (b. 1906–d. 1995) is known for his philosophical approach toward an ethics of otherness, and for a radical reshaping of subjectivity, especially in his later work. Levinas’s gendered concepts, in particular, have come in for quite a bit of scholarly examination. Luce Irigaray argues that Levinas reinscribes a hegemony of paternal-filial relations that ignores and displaces a genealogy of mothers and daughters. In Levinas’s account, according to Irigaray, the erotic encounter with the feminine is useful only insofar as it produces a (masculine) child. For both Irigaray 1991 and Derrida 1991, the horizon of sexual difference sharply limits Levinas’s ethics because Levinas situates sexual difference as secondary to the primary category of ethics. Since the scholarly literature on Levinas, gender, and feminist analysis is vast, as is scholarship on his relation to Judaism, this section focuses on the intersection of Judaism and gender in Levinas’s work. Chalier 1991 argues that the theme of the feminine plays a central role in Levinas’s critique of the virility of ontology, putting masculinity into question; Katz 2001a, Katz 2001b, Katz 2003, and Katz 2004 shows how a reading of what Levinas terms “the feminine” offers a focused examination on a specific, foundational current within his thought by taking into account the Jewish elements pervading his broader work; Shapiro 2003 critically analyzes one of Levinas’s Talmudic readings through a feminist philosophical lens; and Wolfson 2006 explores traces of kabbalistic gendered hermeneutics in Levinas’s construction of the feminine.

  • Chalier, Catherine. “Ethics and the Feminine.” In Re-reading Levinas. Edited by Robert Bernasconi and Simon Critchley, 119–129. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991.

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    Chalier discusses Levinas’s characterization of biblical women and maternity, describing the feminine for Levinas as “the silent voice of the one who welcomes, the dimension of interiority that begins with her intimate familiarity . . . both an ontological category and an ethical paradigm” (p. 123). Chalier acknowledges that Levinas tends to use the terms “the feminine” and “the woman” interchangeably. Readers of French should also see Catherine Chalier, Figures du féminin: Lecture d’Emmanuel Lévinas (Paris: Nuit Surveillée, 1982).

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  • Derrida, Jacques. “At This Very Moment in This Work Here I Am.” Translated by Ruben Berezdivin. In Re-reading Levinas. Edited by Robert Bernasconi and Simon Critchley, 11–49. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991.

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    Derrida argues that for Levinas, the masculine is constructed as the normative human, while the feminine is other. Reading Levinas’s explicitly Jewish texts allows Derrida to see how Levinas views sexual difference as secondary to the primary category of the human. In this multivocal essay, Derrida reveals that the daughter is encrypted and excluded from the relation of paternity-filiality in Levinas’s work.

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  • Irigaray, Luce. “Questions to Emmanuel Levinas: On the Divinity of Love.” Translated by Margaret Whitford. In Re-reading Levinas. Edited by Robert Bernasconi and Simon Critchley, 109–118. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991.

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    Irigaray criticizes the relegation of the feminine by Levinas to the object-like status of “beloved woman,” while the man is provided with the active term “lover.” In the embodied erotic encounter, she argues, both partners should be referred to as lovers of one another. Irigaray turns to the biblical Song of Songs as an ideal model for eros, proposing a relation of equals who participate together in the erotic relation.

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  • Katz, Claire Elise. “Reinhabiting the House of Ruth: Exceeding the Limits of the Feminine in Levinas.” In Feminist Interpretations of Emmanuel Levinas. Edited by Tina Chanter, 145–170. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2001a.

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    Katz observes that Levinas’s intention to keep his philosophical work separate from his religious writings “does not preclude his Judaism from influencing his approach to philosophy” (p. 164, n6). This chapter draws on the thought of Luce Irigaray and the biblical figure of Ruth to challenge the restrictions placed on the feminine in Levinas’s Talmudic writings, arguing that Ruth’s loyalty to Naomi has significance for both the ethical and the political realms.

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  • Katz, Claire Elise. “For Love Is as Strong as Death: Taking Another Look at Levinas on Love.” Philosophy Today 45.5 (2001b): 124–132.

    DOI: 10.5840/philtoday200145Supplement14Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Katz explains how, for Levinas, “Love as that which goes beyond the moment is the eternal victory over death, and one way this victory is achieved is through fecundity” (p. 127). This article also points out limitations to Irigaray’s critique of Levinas because Irigaray does not take into account the central role of Jewish sources in Levinas’s thought and exegesis.

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  • Katz, Claire Elise. Levinas, Judaism, and the Feminine: The Silent Footsteps of Rebecca. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003.

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    Katz reads Levinas’s thought within a Judaic framework, analyzing his philosophical and religious texts side by side, despite Levinas’s attempts to demarcate them. In turning away from Heideggerian ontology and the quest for representational knowledge to an ethics of responsibility, Levinas inverts the ontological focus on the masculine to an ethical reflection on the feminine, shifting from the classical philosophical focus on death to an emphasis on life.

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  • Katz, Claire Elise. “From Eros to Maternity: Love, Death, and ‘the Feminine’ in the Philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas.” In Women and Gender in Jewish Philosophy. Edited by Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, 153–175. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004.

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    Katz analyzes the role that the figure of “the feminine” plays in Levinas’s philosophy. Levinas’s evocation of the maternal bond in his later work demonstrates a critique of the Western philosophical focus on death, replacing it with an emphasis on life. Katz situates Levinas’s phenomenological approach in its Jewish context, paying close attention to his biblical and Talmudic influences and viewing Levinas’s ethics as a critique of Christian agape.

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  • Shapiro, Susan E. “‘And God Created Woman’: Reading the Bible Otherwise.” In Levinas and Biblical Studies. Edited by Tamara Cohn Eskenazi, Gary A. Phillips, and David Jobling, 159–193. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2003.

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    Shapiro finds in Levinas’s Talmudic reading, “And God Created Woman,” “both the promise and the problems of Levinas’s attempts to think sexual difference otherwise” (p. 170). This essay questions Levinas’s choice of Talmudic texts as a forum for raising issues on sexual difference. Levinas explains away the subordination of woman to man as necessary, rationalizing the injustice of the hierarchy of the sexes as originary and natural.

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  • Wolfson, Elliot R. “Secrecy, Modesty, and the Feminine: Kabbalistic Traces in the Thought of Levinas.” Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy 14.1–2 (2006): 195–224.

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    Wolfson observes that the nexus of the motifs of eros, secrecy, modesty, and the feminine within Levinas’s thought indicates a likelihood that he may have been influenced by the interrelatedness of these motifs in kabbalistic lore. The feminine for Levinas is secretive and flees from sight, veiled in its unveiling, similar to the kabbalistic hermeneutic of the secret as that which is disclosed in its hiddenness and concealed in its disclosure.

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Franz Rosenzweig

The voice of Franz Rosenzweig (b. 1886–d. 1929) is granted prominent authority in modern Jewish thought, and his work continues to attract a great deal of attention and scholarship in the field. This section focuses on scholarly attempts to address Rosenzweig through the lens of gender and feminist analysis. Greenberg 1996 and Greenberg 1998 interpret Rosenzweig’s thought in light of later postmodern and feminist hermeneutics. While a trend has developed of celebrating Rosenzweig’s thought, scholarly contributions, such as Benjamin 2019, Braiterman 2007, Braiterman 2019, Cooper 2019, Cooper 2021, Palmer 2019, Shapiro 2019, and Shevitz 2015, have pointed out limitations in his approach, particularly in relation to gender. As Braiterman 2007 observes, Rosenzweig’s version of intersubjectivity gives way to a homosocial community: “This community of men has been made possible by the exclusion of women, who are taken for granted, their presence effaced. In a gendered body of work, from which actual women are explicitly excluded, ‘man’ is more than a generic brand of human community” (p. 235).

  • Benjamin, Mara. “Love in the Star? A Feminist Challenge.” Bamidbar 4.2 (2019): 10–27.

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    In interrogating Rosenzweig through the counterrelation of parent and child, Benjamin reveals the “crucial limitations and problems” of the Star of Redemption and challenges the “overly sanguine readings” of its section on revelation (p. 13). As an alternative to Rosenzweig’s account of dominating, asymmetric eros, Benjamin looks for a model of love and revelation “imagined in more capacious and complex terms than those found within this text’s pristine, severe structure” (p. 12).

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  • Braiterman, Zachary. The Shape of Revelation: Aesthetics and Modern Jewish Thought. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2007.

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    Braiterman illustrates the central place of aesthetics in shaping modernist German Jewish thought. Chapter 6, “Eros” (pp. 207–243), criticizes Rosenzweig’s omission of women from the celebration of communal propagation in the Star of Redemption, and thus from the central drama of revelation. Rosenzweig’s version of intersubjectivity gives way to a Männerbund, a homosocial community, that effaces the presence of women. Rosenzweig’s eroticism, with its focus on male issue, is “active, severe, and violent” (p. 227).

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  • Braiterman, Zachary. “Revelation Camp: Gender, Franz Rosenzweig, and the Con-fusion of Concepts.” Bamidbar 4.2 (2019): 53–73.

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    This article extends the critique of Rosenzweig’s Star of Redemption from Braiterman 2007, arguing that the figure of the beloved from the Song of Songs in the section on revelation, the Shulamite, is not Rosenzweig’s lover Gritli but rather Rosenzweig himself, representing “the author’s own desire for a homosocial community of men” (p. 54). Braiterman identifies “the project of Jewish philosophy” as both “masculinist and heteronormative.”

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  • Cooper, Andrea Dara. “Modern Jewish Thought and the Fratriarchy.” AJS Perspectives: The Patriarchy Issue (Spring 2019): 79–81.

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    Cooper examines the vertical problem of patriarchy through the horizontal sphere of fraternity in modern Jewish thought, arguing that the exclusionary model of brotherhood structures both the philosophy/ theology of Rosenzweig and the ethics of Levinas. In the move from the familial to the social level, society is construed as a relationship of brothers, in which every self is commanded to ethical relations with others because of this shared kinship.

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  • Cooper, Andrea Dara. Gendering Modern Jewish Thought. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2021.

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    Through a critical gender analysis of key works in the field, Cooper illustrates how kinship becomes an organizing metaphor for ethical and communal relationships in 20th-century Jewish philosophy. This book investigates familial tropes in the ethical and theological frameworks of Franz Rosenzweig and Emmanuel Levinas, making explicit the metaphorical structures that lie beneath their philosophical approaches and challenging the ideal of brotherhood in modern Jewish thought.

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  • Greenberg, Yudit Kornberg. Better Than Wine: Love, Poetry, and Prayer in the Thought of Franz Rosenzweig. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1996.

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    Greenberg examines the relationship between Rosenzweig’s philosophy and postmodern hermeneutical approaches, finding Rosenzweig’s thought to anticipate prevalent intellectual postmodern and feminist currents. The author traces the influences of German idealism and Kabbalistic thought in Rosenzweig’s Star of Redemption, investigating the interplay between philosophy and theology, and between Judaism and German culture, in his work.

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  • Greenberg, Yudit Kornberg. “Toward a Dialogic Postmodern Jewish Philosophy.” In Reasoning after Revelation: Dialogues in Postmodern Jewish Philosophy. Edited by Steven Kepnes, Peter Ochs, and Robert Gibbs, 67–76. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1998.

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    In this response to the volume’s dialogue on postmodern Jewish philosophy, Greenberg observes that, as a respondent rather than a participant, her later contributions on subjects such as embodiment, the representation of women, and hierarchical thinking are not organically part of the discussion. Among other topics, Greenberg comments on issues of gender, eros, and love in connection to Rosenzweig’s thought and postmodern Jewish philosophy more broadly.

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  • Palmer, Gesine. “‘Dying for Love’: Making Sense of an (Unwitting?) Inversion in Franz Rosenzweig’s Star of Redemption.” Bamidbar 4.2 (2019): 28–52.

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    Among a broader analysis, Palmer analyzes Rosenzweig’s statement in the Star that only a woman has the capacity to die of love: “To the modern reader this claim will prove contentious, no matter how hard-boiled she may be. It was a bit too much for me when I first read it, even though I was already well-trained in silently passing over all those disturbing gender biases that philosophers of earlier generations took for granted” (p. 30).

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  • Shapiro, Susan E. “Gender and Jewish Philosophy: Introduction.” In Special Issue: Gender and Jewish Philosophy. Edited by Susan Shapiro. Bamidbar 4.2 (2019): 7–9.

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    In the Introduction to this special journal issue on gender and Jewish philosophy focusing on Rosenzweig’s thought, Shapiro diagnoses the ongoing resistance to reading for gender and sexuality in Jewish philosophy, despite feminist interventions: “The instruction to ignore images, figures and tropes of gender difference and hierarchy as well as of sexuality in Jewish philosophical texts has been a hermeneutic practice of long standing” (p. 7).

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  • Shevitz, Amy Hill. “Silence and Translation: Franz Rosenzweig’s Paralysis and Edith Rosenzweig’s Life.” Modern Judaism 35.3 (October 2015): 281–301.

    DOI: 10.1093/mj/kjv019Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Shevitz challenges the narrative that erases Rosenzweig’s wife, Edith, from her central role in the Rosenzweig-Buber Bible translation. The reality of Edith’s painstaking role in the process is presented as a legend in which Rosenzweig is the producer of thoughts and his wife is only a physical conduit for his brilliance. Shevitz argues that Edith almost assuredly did more than passively transpose Rosenzweig’s thoughts, and that she therefore deserves recognition.

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Joseph B. Soloveitchik

Rudavsky 2007 provides a feminist reading of the distinction drawn by Joseph B. Soloveitchik (b. 1903–d. 1993) between cognitive man and halakhic man as elaborated in his works The Lonely Man of Faith and Halakhic Man. According to Rudavsky, Soloveitchik shares with feminists an emphasis on non-cognitivist modes of knowing, “a distrust of reason, of rational objectivity, as the ultimate method for achieving knowledge of reality” (p. 329). Koltun-Fromm 2012 offers a more critical analysis of these works by Soloveitchik, exploring how, for the man of faith, religious boundaries are secured in covenantal communities that seal themselves off from outside “sinister” forces to keep faith intact in reason, logic, and law.

  • Koltun-Fromm, Ken. “America.” In The Cambridge History of Jewish Philosophy. Vol. 2, The Modern Era. Edited by Martin Kavka, Zachary Braiterman, and David Novak, 128–153. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

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    Koltun-Fromm includes Rachel Adler alongside a discussion of other American Jewish philosophers and theologians, including Kaplan, Soloveitchik, and Heschel. These thinkers have all sought to draw boundaries around Judaism to varying degrees. The author investigates the exclusionary implications to Soloveitchik’s work and how Orthodox Jewish culture is omitted from Adler’s pluralist, multicultural approach to Judaism. The chapter aims to illustrate correlations and variations among American Jewish thinkers.

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  • Rudavsky, Tamar. “Feminism and Modern Jewish Philosophy.” In The Cambridge Companion to Modern Jewish Philosophy. Edited by Michael Morgan and Peter Gordon, 324–347. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

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    Rudavsky asks how feminist readers can approach the metaphysical landscape of Soloveitchik’s protagonists in his work Halakhic Man, asserting that “Both Soloveitchik and feminist epistemologists postulate an alternative basis for coming to know the world, an epistemology that emphasizes the primacy of emotions and human interaction” (p. 329). The essay then seeks to strengthen the feminist appropriation of Spinoza by focusing upon Spinoza’s theory of individual identity. Finally, Rudavsky considers the extent to which notions of temporality and ritual practice have affected the status of women in Judaism and Halakha.

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Other Methodological Approaches

Many areas within Jewish studies have been productively challenged and illuminated by using gender and feminist analysis as analytical categories. For detailed resources, including a comprehensive section on Jewish feminist theology, see the Oxford Bibliographies in Jewish Studies article “Women and Gender Relations.” This section focuses on scholarly interventions relevant to the study of gender and modern Jewish thought, from adjacent and related fields such as History (Kaplan and Moore 2011), Religious Studies (Imhoff 2019, Peskowitz 1995, and Wolfson 2005), Sociology (Corwin Berman 2008), and Theology (Adler 1998, Benjamin 2020, Farneth 2017, Lubarsky 2004, Plaskow 1991, and Raphael 2003).

History

This collection honors the career of Jewish feminist historian Paula Hyman (b. 1946–d. 2011). The essays include scholarly articles by Hyman’s colleagues and former students, focusing on the impact of gender in interpreting Jewish history.

  • Kaplan, Marion A., and Deborah Dash Moore, eds. Gender and Jewish History. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2011.

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    This festschrift in honor of the influential feminist scholar and historian Paula Hyman includes scholarly articles focusing on the impact of gender in Jewish history, literature, and thought from the 1750s to the early 21st century.

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Religious Studies

This section includes scholarship in religious studies tracing the absent presence of women and gender in Jewish studies (Imhoff 2019), the lack of historical attention to gender analysis in Jewish studies, particularly rabbinics (Peskowitz 1995), and the complex gender symbolism of medieval kabbalistic literature (Wolfson 2005).

  • Imhoff, Sarah. “Women and Gender, Past and Present: A Jewish Studies Story.” Jewish Social Studies 24.2 (2019): 74–81.

    DOI: 10.2979/jewisocistud.24.2.07Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Imhoff demonstrates why Jewish studies scholars more broadly must pay attention to gender, without reflexively aligning “gender” with “women.” Masculinity often goes unmarked, and men are framed as the normative default: “by not studying men and not paying attention to how their gender roles and ideals are constructed, we can leave ourselves with the impression that masculinity is transhistorical and essential” (p. 81).

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  • Peskowitz, Miriam. “Engendering Jewish Religious History.” Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies 14.1 (1995): 8–34.

    DOI: 10.1353/sho.1995.0132Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Writing from a disciplinary background in religious studies, Peskowitz addresses traditional scholarly approaches in Jewish studies that do not acknowledge how they have been shaped by a European Enlightenment worldview that is inherently masculinist and colonialist. Peskowitz demonstrates how feminist analysis productively challenges the assumption that the “universal, unified, seamless and coherent subject” of Jewish history is male (p. 11).

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  • Wolfson, Elliot R. Language, Eros, Being: Kabbalistic Hermeneutics and Poetic Imagination. New York: Fordham University Press, 2005.

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    In this comparative study, Wolfson explores the complex gender symbolism of medieval kabbalistic literature through theoretical approaches to religion, sexuality, phenomenology, philosophy, poetry, and philology. Through a focus on the nexus of asceticism and eroticism in mystical traditions, Wolfson examines the role of embodiment in Jewish studies and religious studies.

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Sociology

Corwin Berman 2008 discusses the efforts to provide statistically based descriptions of Jewish life, marriage, and child-bearing undertaken by social scientists in the 20th century. Jewish communal institutions, informed by the work of Jewish sociologists, identified a “marriage crisis” as a priority to address and avoid by furthering the impetus of Jewish survival.

  • Corwin Berman, Lila. “Sociology, Jews, and Intermarriage in Twentieth-Century America.” Jewish Social Studies 14.2 (Winter 2008): 32–60.

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    Corwin Berman explains how social researchers in the 20th century highlighted correlations between the declining fertility and marriage rates of American Jews and growing aspirations among women for power and control over their bodies, observing: “An intimate affair between Jews and sociologists was consummated by the 1970s around their common interest in—and, for some, deep fear of—Jewish intermarriage” (p. 33).

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Theology

Authors in this section demonstrate the relevance of feminist theological approaches to the study of modern Jewish thought. Plaskow 1991 and Adler 1998 offer foundational feminist analyses of Jewish sources and traditions; Raphael 2003 and Lubarsky 2004 expand the male-centered field of post-Holocaust Jewish theology; and, more recently, Farneth 2017 and Benjamin 2020 highlight the ongoing contributions of feminist Jewish theology to contemporary developments and approaches.

  • Adler, Rachel. Engendering Judaism: An Inclusive Theology and Ethics. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1998.

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    In this highly influential theological study, Adler uses feminist and legal theory to focus on the renewal of Jewish law and ethics, bringing feminist perspectives into her reading of Jewish texts, including rabbinic and halakhic sources. Adler reimagines the covenantal relationship to the divine, reinterpreting and reshaping traditions and rituals to account for egalitarianism and pluralism.

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  • Benjamin, Mara. “Tracing the Contours of a Half Century of Jewish Feminist Theology.” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 36.1 (2020): 11–31.

    DOI: 10.2979/jfemistudreli.36.1.04Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Benjamin traces the trajectory of Jewish feminist theology from the 1970s to the present day, drawing together points of shared focus across diverse theological writings, including both systematic and nonsystematic modalities. This article highlights and synthesizes major themes, such as the authority of Jewish classical texts and ritual practice, the significance of embodiment, and the potential of theologies of immanence. Benjamin includes a discussion of the activist beginnings of Jewish feminist theologians.

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  • Farneth, Molly. “Feminist Jewish Thought as Postliberal Theology.” Modern Theology 33.1 (2017): 31–46.

    DOI: 10.1111/moth.12303Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Farneth proposes viewing feminist Jewish theology as postliberal theology, as both share an emphasis on the sociality of reason and revelation. The article focuses on the problem of halakhic authority in the work of Judith Plaskow, Rachel Adler, and Tamar Ross, highlighting how each rejects the fixed meaning of Halakha. In Farneth’s view, when the sociality of halakhic interpretation is emphasized, the power dynamics at play in these social practices become apparent.

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  • Lubarsky, Sandra B. “Reconstructing Divine Power: Post-Holocaust Jewish Theology, Feminism, and Process Philosophy.” In Women and Gender in Jewish Philosophy. Edited by Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, 289–314. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004.

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    Lubarsky provides an alternative to the idea of divine hiddenness in the thought of post-Holocaust thinkers Martin Buber, Eliezer Berkowitz, and Irving Greenberg. Their approaches rely on a patriarchal and coercive form of power. Instead, Lubarsky shows how a feminist philosophical approach, which critiques dominating power, reveals the limitations to the concept of God’s absence. Feminist thought proposes a relational form of power that reflects the analysis of process philosophers.

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  • Plaskow, Judith. Standing Again at Sinai: Judaism from a Feminist Perspective. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1991.

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    Plaskow’s groundbreaking work is the first sustained approach to Jewish feminist theology, exposing the gender biases of traditional Jewish law, liturgy, and practice. Plaskow advocates for a Jewish theology conscious of its own categories and assumptions. In dialogue with feminist theologies of other religions, Plaskow maintains that women should remake theological discourse as dynamic and non-essentialist, adding their own voices to the formative revelatory experience at Sinai.

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  • Raphael, Melissa. The Female Face of God in Auschwitz: A Jewish Feminist Theology of the Holocaust. London: Routledge, 2003.

    DOI: 10.4324/9780203469071Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Raphael calls into question the androcentrism of post-Holocaust Jewish theology, turning to women’s diaries and memoirs in order to remedy the textual processes of exclusion that write women’s voices out of male-centered systematic theological discourse. This book challenges the patriarchal assumptions underlying post-Holocaust theology, finding an alternative model in the female face turned toward the other as a refractive image of God.

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