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Standing Again at Sinai: Judaism from a Feminist Perspective

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  301 ratings  ·  23 reviews
A feminist critique of Judaism as a patriarchal tradition and an exploration of the increasing involvement of women in naming and shaping Jewish tradition.
Paperback, 304 pages
Published February 1st 1991 by HarperOne (first published 1990)
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Elisabeth M
May 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Elisabeth by: Glenn, by picking it off the sidewalk where it was lying
The subject is Jewish feminism, but the book's relevance doesn't end there. Not only does it deal with specifically feminist and Jewish concerns, it also gets into subjects including hermeneutics, the workings of community, the influence of language in our religious lives, and how one approaches God by the metaphors we use to describe the indescribable.

For the past few years I've been invested in an exploration of gender studies; however, when it comes to feminist writing, I'm hard to please. Ha
Katherine Stanley
Oct 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An incredibly rigorous introduction to the main issues of feminist Jewish theology. Many of the topics discussed in this book, such as the possibilities for creating more inclusive Jewish communities and language for God, are by necessity speculative and inconclusive, but her explanations of the multi-faceted origins of the patriarchical nature of Judaism are incredibly thorough and clear-headed. Plaskow defends her argument that Judaism can and should be reformed and that reforms to Jewish memo ...more
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: feminism, judaism
Plaskow's central thesis (with which I agree) is that Jewish tradition is fundamentally male centered and rooted in patriarchal culture, and she does a good job of showing how--from the texts, to halakha, to the very language we use.

What this does, however, is define negative space. We can see what is missing--the language and narratives of women's experience. What we do not know is what should fill it. The evidence we do have of women's religious practice in the past, such as the tkhines she r
Lisa Feld
Jan 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: boston
There is something wonderful about a clear, beautifully reasoned argument. Plaskow explores how women have been excluded or marginalized in Jewish law, in the liturgy, and even in our images of God (for example, if we really believe in a God with no physical attributes, why do many of us react with discomfort at referring to God as She instead of He?). She makes her case for a feminist Judaism working from several different entry points: historical precedent, textual evidence, logical argument, ...more
Sep 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
"Standing Again at Sinai" incisively, accessibly considers the concepts of God, Torah and Israel in a feminist light.

For Plaskow, feminist Judaism goes beyond pointing out sexist verses in the Bible, or training women rabbis to lead the same old prayers. It's not just religious practice that is tainted by sexism, it's the texts themselves. Thus the Torah itself must be rewritten -- the people need to "stand again at Sinai" to "hear" a Torah in which women are full members of the community, and
Aug 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: persevering feminists, all jews
This classic bit of feminist theology is way too long. And excellent, in a broad and stirring and theatrical way, but could be a lot more interesting and specific for its length (250 pp plus notes). Kind of a hard read in terms of language, just because she's not an elegant writer. But worthwhile--five stars for ideas, three stars for style.

Basically, Plaskow argues for religious Jewish feminism through four key areas: God, Torah, Israel (the people, not the state), and sexuality/relationships.
Amanda Reynolds-Gregg
May 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Really fantastic book! 'Course, I am coming from it as a person outside of the Jewish community but I think it presents really worthwhile questions that could be applied to a number of androcentric religions (i.e. pretty much all of them) particular for those feminists looking to make these institutions more inclusive. I also appreciate her touching on POC and queer folk (though she made no mention of non-binary individuals, focusing very much on the gender binary for her arguments).

The best ch
Oct 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Historically incredibly important, but very much of its time. Plaskow's focus on passages from Torah without (most of the time) discussing how these passages were related to throughout history is problematic. It is ironically un-Jewish to treat Torah in isolation from Talmud, midrash, and other commentary. Providing more of the context could have achieved the same means, but more strongly because her critique would have been more solidly grounded. ...more
Nov 17, 2007 rated it really liked it
Of all the Jewish and Christian feminists i've read this year, Plaskow may be my favorite. she's certainly quite readable. the first part of the book really captured my imagination, as she tries to figure out how to recover the female voices that are silenced across the history of Judaism. The rest doesn't interest me as much, but I'm still grateful I've read it. ...more
I generally dislike nonfiction, and this didn't change my mind, although I did find the topic and arguments overall interesting. My only critique is that as a non-Jewish feminist, I didn't know some of the concepts Plaskow talked about, and there wasn't really a satisfactory explanation. So although I followed along well enough, some things were unclear. ...more
Dec 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Reading this was a long time coming. My experiences as a liberal Jewish woman owe a lot to the theology outlined herein. Definitely recommend to anyone interested in gender relations in Judaism and religion in general.
Kate Irwin-smiler
Nov 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: judaica
I don’t have enough grounding in feminist theory to do justice here. I feel like I need a book group for this one. There were times when I checked the copyright date; I wonder how far ahead of its time this seemed in 1990? It still seems pretty forward thinking now.
Kyle Brown
Oct 23, 2008 rated it liked it
most "new" thing for those coming from a Christian background is the discussion of oral Judaism - something most Christians are completely unfamiliar with. ...more
Maurice Harris
Mar 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book has had a huge influence on my work as a rabbi.
Aug 18, 2007 rated it did not like it
Aug 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bible-ane, judaica
A (the?) classic work of Jewish feminist theology. Clear, grounded, and creative. Definitely worth reading for anyone interested in Judaism or feminism and religion
Doris Raines
Apr 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: doris-shelf
I. Like. This
Dora Carson
Sep 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was assigned to me in 1991 in a class on Modern Jewish Thought, but I never had a chance to read it. Since it is considered a seminal work in Feminist Jewish theory and theology, I decided to tackle it now. It was not an easy book to read. It is filled with academic language and theory that requires a deep level of concentration in order to process. I had to reread many sections in order to be sure I understood what Plaskow was saying.

Regarding the content, however, this is a fascinati
Charles Cohen
Oct 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: jewy
I had a pretty solid belief system that I thought was fairly pluralistic and super feminist. Turns out, I was way off. Plaskow shook up every aspect of my faith, and challenged me to reconsider how far I'm willing to adapt my beliefs and practice to consider how my religion can be truly equal. From theology to text to sexuality to language, this book upended any comfort I had with what I thought I knew to be a feminist Judaism.

One idea that sticks in my brain, and that I can't let go of: the id
Dec 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
While I appreciate the passion for the feminine voice in Jewish texts, and while I am certain that when this book was published it was a landmark work of Jewish feminism, the message, reading it now, seems stale. Perhaps stale is not the right word. More like, okay, so what else is new?

Ms. Plaskow was instrumental in raising awareness that the patriarchal voice in the Torah and other texts was missing the female point of view and her work sparked inquiry and analysis and much scholarly work on t
Dec 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Although somewhat dated, this is an excellent resource for those seeking to engage with Judaism without losing their modern ideals (and vice versa). Covering Torah, community, God, sexuality, and social justice, Plaskow brings together a range of useful resources in an engaging manner. If anything, it's a little dispiriting to reflect on how little progress has been made, but isn't that always the way of things? ...more
Nov 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: for-school, judaism
Wish I could experience a single thought to give this book the review it deserves but I thought it was very neat
Ab Boon
Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Important book to the Jewish communities.
Lisa Pilgrim
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Apr 09, 2018
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May 06, 2019
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