Dr. Elana Maryles Sztokman is a multi-talented feminist thought-leader and writer whose research and ideas help shape a vision for a compassionate society.
A two-time winner of the National Jewish Book Council Award in the categories of Education and Women's Studies, as well as a winner of the Gourmand Award in the category of fundraising, Elana writes and speaks around the world about issues of gender, culture, politics, business, religion, and society. Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Slate, The Independent, The Jerusalem Report, Everyday Feminism, Lilith, Haaretz, The Forward, and many more.
Elana serves as Founding Chair of the founders of the Kol Hanashim Women's Party that ran for the 2020 Knesset, and was number four on the list. She also serves as the Vice Chair for Media and Policy of Democrats Abroad-Israel.
Elana has worked with communities, organizations and individuals around the world on advancing gender inclusion and gender equity. She has worked with many women's organizations in Israel, including Mavoi Satum, Kolech, The Center for Women's Justice, ICAR, Itach-Maaki, the Modi'in Women's Council, and more. She was the 2016 Scholar-in-Residence for National Council of Jewish Women, Australia. From 2012-2014 she was the Executive Director of JOFA, the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance. From 2014-2017 she was the Board Chair of El Halev, the feminist organization building safer communities through self-defense and women's martial arts.
As a product of Orthodox Judaism with deep ties to the Jewish community, Elana seeks to connect political, cultural, and spiritual processes. After nearly 20 years as an active Orthodox feminist working to build equitable institutions and communities, she began training as a Reform rabbi and ultimately received certification as a Spiritual Counselor from Hebrew Union College. She runs meditations and narrative-sharing circles for women, including a circle of Palestinian and Jewish women from East Jerusalem and Modiin. From 2015-2018, she created The Center for Jewish Feminism to provide resources and connections among Jewish feminists around the world.
Elana is committed to empowering women in many ways. She founded Lioness Books as a media platform for "women who roar", which can be found at www.lionessbooks.com. She runs Release your Inner Lioness workshops for women writers and is currently building resources to enable women and non-binary non-conforming people from all backgrounds to birth their words into the world.
Originally from New York and a graduate of The Yeshivah and Flatbush and then Barnard College, Elana holds a New York State HS Social Studies teaching certificate, a Master's Degree in Jewish Education from Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and a doctorate in education and sociology/anthropology with a specialty in gender studies from Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She wrote her dissertation on the identity development of adolescent religious girls in school. She went on to do post-doctoral research, thanks to a grant from the Hadassah Brandeis Institute, on the "other" side of the partition so to speak, i.e., on identities of Orthodox men. This research became the book, The Men's Section: Orthodox Jewish Men in an Egalitarian World, (Hadassah Brandeis Institute, UPNE, 2011) which won the 2012 National Jewish Book Council award in the area of Women's Studies.
Elana's second book, Educating in the Divine Image: Gender Issues in Orthodox Jewish Day Schools, co-authored with Dr Chaya Rosenfeld Gorsetman, released in October 2013 (Hadassah Brandeis Institute, UPNE), won the National Jewish Book Council Award in the area of education and identity.
Elana's third book The War on Women in Israel: The story of Religious Radicalism and the Women Fighting for Freedom, was released by Sourcebooks in Sept 2014 to great acclaim.
Elana's fourth book, Masala Mamas: Recipes and Stories by Indian Women Changing their Communities through Food and Love, a fundraising project for Gabriel Project Mumbai and the first release of Lioness Books (2018), won the prestigious Gourmand Award in the area of fundraising. All proceeds go to the women of the Kalwa slum collective in Mumbai who strive to keep kids in school instead of on the street simply by providing hot food in school.
Elana's fifth book, Conversations with my Body: Essays on my Life as a Jewish Woman (2021), a project of Lioness Books, is a set of reflections on body issues such as 'modesty', voice, hair, sexuality, fat, food, and more. It marks Elana's 25th anniversary of her feminist awakening, as well as her 50th birthday.
Elana has also taught these subjects in institutes of higher education: the Florence Melton Adult Mini-school in Melbourne, Australia, the Schechter Institute for Jewish Studies, the Efrata Teacher Training College, the Bar Ilan University Gender Studies Department, Young Judea, and more. She is regularly invited to speak on these topics at conferences and programs around the world, as well as to work with institutions on issues of gender, society, and creating compassionate cultures.
Elana moved to Israel in 1993, spent three years living in Melbourne, Australia, and today lives in Modi'in, Israel with her spouse Jacob and their children.