The sexual lives of religious women will be a leading topic of discussion at a panel at the upcoming Kolech conference. Dr. Naomi Marmon Grumet, a leading researcher on the subject of religious women's intimate lives, will be examining the differences between orthodox men and orthodox women in preparation for marriage, on a panel that promises to open up new arenas of discourse for religious women.
This is just one of many juicy titles in the upcoming conference, scheduled for July 3-4 at the Keshet School in Jerusalem. Other topics include: feminism in the haredi community; Jewish and Arab women fighting for tradition; Gender and Judaism on the Internet; Single mothers by choice; gender segregation in public spaces, sex ed for religious boys, and more. I am very excited to be speaking about gender education for religious boys, based on the research from my forthcoming book, "The Men's Section: Orthodox Jewish men in an egalitarian world" (University Press of New England, November 20110). I will also be moderating what promises to be a fascinating panel on mikveh, with a group of women who have been challenging the status quo and working to promote new approaches to ritual immersion. The full program is available on the Kolech website.
Kolech, established in 1998 by Dr. Hanna Kehat, has been leading the battle for gender equity in Israel, an uphill battle with more than a little resistance to its efforts. Kolech, like many other small organizations in Israel, relies heavily on foundations grants, a system that has been extraordinarily stressful for the past few years. I wrote about this issue on E Jewish Philanthropy. This is why I highly recommend that whoever happens to be in the vicinity of Jerusalem on July 3 or 4 attend this conference, even if you don't fully identify with the ideology, even if you only have an hour to spare. Organizations like Kolech need public support in order to survive, and the Jewish people need organizations like Kolech in order to maintain a meaningful existence.