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Separate spheres : women in the responsa of Rabbi Moses Feinstein


Separate spheres : women in the responsa of Rabbi Moses Feinstein

Joseph, Norma Baumel (1995) Separate spheres : women in the responsa of Rabbi Moses Feinstein. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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This dissertation is a detailed inquiry into the decisions of one major modern Orthodox authority pertaining to women's social and religious location in the communal sector. The problematic to be explored is the effect of modernity on a traditional religious community. By focusing on the texts or responsa of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein dealing with women's position in the public domain, the dilemma facing a religious community in the modern world is highlighted and examined. The research reveals his various standards for different Jews and his overall strategy of distinction. His main concern is the survival of his Jewish world in a difficult and sometimes dangerous environment. Nonetheless, while fighting change and legislating a mediated isolation, he is transformed, as is the responsa process, by the American experience. The areas chosen to explore these issues are education, synagogue and ritual responsibility. These three spheres demonstrate Feinstein's commitment to gender separation. Clearly, his ideal of distinctiveness causes him to separate Jew from non-Jew, Orthodox from non-Orthodox as well as female and male. In addition, his cumulative decisions in these three spheres highlight his stance towards change and towards life in America. Remarkably, Feinstein's decisions treat the marketplace as neutral, allowing and even encouraging associations elsewhere unacceptable. Consistently, in these three spheres, Feinstein demonstrates his acceptance of women as knowledgeable, capable and religiously significant. It is in his rulings about women that we can see his accommodation to and argument against American modernity. American Judaism is different and Rabbi Moses Feinstein's responsa have substantiated much of that transformation

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Religions and Cultures
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Joseph, Norma Baumel
Pagination:ix, 577 leaves ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Thesis Supervisor(s):Lightstone, Jack N
Identification Number:BM 729 W6J67 1995
ID Code:100
Deposited By: Concordia University Library
Deposited On:27 Aug 2009 17:09
Last Modified:02 Aug 2021 20:20
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