Pinsky's 'Jewish Feminists' Reviewed in Lilith Magazine and Nashim

September 30, 2011

By Jenna Reim Professor Dina Pinsky’s book Jewish Feminists: Complex Identities and Activist Lives was recently reviewed in Lilith Magazine, which discusses the lives of Jewish women. In its latest issue, contributing writer Melanie Weiss discusses Pinsky’s work in her article, “Handmaidens of Jewish Feminism, Tracking Recent History.” In her research, Pinsky seeks to define the complex understanding of Jewish feminism, how the lives of these feminists do and don't interconnect. Her book is complex as she intricately weaves together academic discourse with personal narrative. According to Weiss, Pinsky’s book is divided into four sections which “explore in turn feminist activist through the lens of ritual engagement….Pinsky allows the multiplicity inherent in her interviewees narratives to shine through.” Pinsky's book also was reviewed in Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women's Studies & Gender Issues, accessible online through Project Muse. Marla Brettschneider argues that Pinsky’s aim was to “think critically about the construction of cultural discourses and the integration of diverse identities.” Pinsky successfully located subjects “who grew in their self-identification and involvement as Jews through their activism in the US American feminist movement.” Brettschneider continues her synopsis of Pinsky’s work by analyzing each chapter. Chapter One, “Torah Warriors,” discusses how the Jewish feminist movement has become involved in Jewish matters and modes. According to Brettschenider, “[H]er interviewes here [Chapter 1] engage in feminist deconstruction of Judaism and religious hierarchies, even as they have no clear-cut guarantee as to what the reconstructed Jewish forms will look like.” In Chapter Two, Pinsky focuses on secular views and goals. This part of Brettschneider synopsis analyzes Pinsky’s project. “One impulse for Pinsky’s project was to sort through the ways her Jewish and feminist ties and commitments have presented themselves as contradictory.” However, her research came out with contradictory results. Breetschneider continues: “[T]he interviewees did not reflect the author’s expectations. Pinsky presents her subjects as finding general compatibility between feminism and Jewishness. The connection to a Jewish focus on a social justice is made more explicit in this chapter.” She then continues to discuss Chapter Three and Chapter Four. Chapter Three explores the activist Jewish feminists in the feminist movement in the 1960s and 1970s. Chapter Four discusses the idea of male Jewish feminists. Brettschneider argues that Chapter Four provides more clues to men in the feminist movement. Jenna Reim is a graduate student in the Master of Arts in English program.