New Article: Laznow, Life Stories of Women Rabbis Living and Working in Israel

Laznow, Jacqueline. ” ‘Many Women Have Done Nobly, but You Surpass Them All’: Life Stories of Women Rabbis Living and Working in Israel.” Nashim 26 (2014): 97-121.





The ordination of women as rabbis is a relatively new phenomenon in Jewish communities worldwide, but especially in the State of Israel. Israel’s non-Orthodox movements began to ordain women as rabbis only twenty years after the first woman rabbi was ordained in the United States. Today, women rabbis continue to confront deeply rooted cultural concepts and stereotypes while seeking to reshape the place of women in Judaism. In this article, I shall analyze and interpret Israeli women rabbis’ shared experiences as extracted from their life stories, using folklore research tools. Analyzing these stories using the narrative-package model revealed their commonalities with Vladimir Propp’s fairy-tale narrative structure. The content of these narratives by pioneer Israeli women rabbis emphasizes the deconstruction of gender roles in Judaism and in Israeli society, even as new structures are being established, enabling women to take religious leadership functions upon themselves. The narrators are aware of the numerous challenges they face, but most of them are deeply motivated to continue exerting their influence in different areas of Israeli society.

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