Sex, Gender, and God at Zeek
April 15, 2009
The spring 2009 print issue of Zeek magazine is on the theme of Sex, Gender, and God. Guest-edited by Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, the issue features essays by Jo Ellen Green Kaiser ("Do We Still Need Jewish Feminism?"), Rabbi Elliot Kukla ("Lepers and me"), Rabbi Julia Watts Belser ("Speaking of Goddess") and Judith Plaskow ("Why Feminist Theology Matters"), among others. Also poems by Eve Grubin and Alicia Ostriker, and visual art by Elyse Taylor, Bara Sapir, Rachel Kantor, and many others.
My contribution to the issue is an interview with Rachel Adler, author of the classic Engendering Judaism. Rachel and I spoke about how Engendering Judaism is still a radical text, how she came to self-define as a theologian, and what gives her hope for the future of Jewish liturgical creativity, among other things. Here's a taste:
ZEEK: You write, "Engendering Judaism requires two tasks. The critical task is to demonstrate that historical understandings of gender affect all Jewish texts and contexts and hence require the attention of all Jews. But this is only the first step. There is also an ethical task." This puts me in mind of Rabbi Akiva's response to the question of which is greater, study or action: "study, if it leads to action." What kind of action do you hope our continuing study of these issues will spur us to undertake?
ADLER: Understanding that gender practices change according to social and historical context means that we could intentionally reenvision and reshape gender practices. What would we want to create? A world where no female babies die of malnutrition because they are fed last? A world where no women are disadvantaged simply because they are women and not men? A world where women entering a profession such as law, medicine or, for that matter, the rabbinate, doesn't cause masculine flight to some other profession? Or the activity of women in congregations or in the pulpit doesn't make men take their marbles and go home? A world where there are many shades of gender and sexuality, not just two?
The whole interview is available in the print edition of the magazine. You can subscribe to the print edition of Zeek here. Thanks to everyone involved with putting out the issue; I hope y'all enjoy!