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Changing Role of Jewish Women/ Part 1
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The modern world has changed the lives of Jewish women in areas of education, community, and work. In "Changing Role of Jewish Women," Rabbi Berel Wein discusses the current Jewish view of the role of women in society today: their participation in communal organizations, their need to balance family and career, and the rabbis' attempts to deal with the apparent disadvantage of women in divorce.

Individual lectures:

Marriage - Marriage is the ideal state in which Jewish adults should live, but as society has changed, so has marriage. Rabbi Wein highlights notable marriages in the Torah and Talmud, some loving, some problematic. He presents the surprising history of how "the shadchan" became an institution in Jewish life, and brings us into recent times with an examination of how the American media, in raising false expectations, has encouraged intermarriage and divorce.

Education - For centuries, Jewish women and girls were home-schooled in the practical Halacha and minhagim necessary to run a Jewish home, but the massive secularization of the modern era threw the Jewish world into crisis, and formal Torah education for girls became an urgent need. From this emerged Sarah Schenirer, founder of the Bais Yaakov movement. Citing a wide variety of Gedolim, Rabbi Wein examines women's education from a Halachic and historical perspective, and raises the current controversial question of women's study of Talmud today.

Careers - The forces which pushed women out of their traditional role as homemakers seemed to rise from two opposite directions. On the left were socialist ideologies that insisted that women must join the labor force as a matter of establishing equality, while on the right, the growth of yeshivas required women to work to support their families. Yet in spite of all of this, women in the workplace were more the exception than the rule. Today, the Jewish world has come full circle, and many of our young women have taken on dual roles as both mothers and breadwinners. More challenging than any feminist issue, Rabbi Wein asks the question of our day: how can Jewish women balance their family responsibilities with the pressure to make ends meet?

Abuse - Abuse of women, and particularly physical abuse, is strictly forbidden by the Torah, but unfortunately, it still happens. Emotional abuse occurs when couples are not properly prepared for the challenges of marriage. Society at large likewise abuses women with economic inequities. Rabbi Wein does not mince words in repudiating these circumstances, and proposes a broad-based restructuring of attitudes.

Divorce, Part 1 - The topic of agunot, women without legal divorces, is one of the most complicated Halachic issues in Jewish life. Rabbi Wein traces Jewish divorce law back to the 10th century when Rabbeinu Gershom sought to equalize women's rights with his rulings. He then shows how the separation of church and state in the modern era has affected Jewish divorce, and brings the issue to the present with a discussion of how both American civil law and today's rabbis have tried to find solutions to the troublesome agunah problem.

Divorce, Part 2 - Rabbi Wein continues his discussion of agunot with examinations of various modern solutions. Pre-nuptial agreements were tried, but they only protect money. Legal battles were fought in New York State, but only with partial victories. Though the problem continues to plague us, Rabbi Wein nevertheless delivers a message about fairness to all parties - in both divorce and marriage.

Prayer - Half a century ago, even the most pious of Jewish women did not pray on a regular basis, yet most Torah authorities agree that women are obligated to pray. What societal forces caused this change? Has prayer, our direct pipeline to G-d, become politicized with the rise of "women's minyanim?" Rabbi Wein examines this multi-faceted issue from all sides and leads us to the moderate middle path.

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