Volume 14, 2009 : Women in Israeli Judaism

Feminist Influences on Jewish Liturgy:
The Case of Israeli Reform Prayer

Dalia Marx
Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem, Israel

Gender related issues have been discussed in liberal Judaism in North America since the seventies and are probably the most heated topic in contemporary Jewish liturgy and worship. This article discusses the unique challenges of gender language in Israeli Reform liturgy over the last two decades: inclusive language when referring to the congregation; adding representative female characters; reclaiming and adapting old rituals; creating new rituals; gender-balanced metaphors for God. Arguably the greatest challenge is altering the pronounced gender specification of the Hebrew language. The article delineates the parameters of gender language in Israeli liturgy, where the vernacular is both the Holy language and the language of the prayer.

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