For years, dozens of community partnerships have nurtured strong connections between congregations, groups, and individuals in cities in Israel and in North America. More recently, some communities have expressed an interest in establishing parallel women’s groups to dialogue on Jewish identity and its expression in family life and Israeli-North American perspectives on Jewish Peoplehood.
The goal of Women’s Dialogue is to promote understanding through study and discussion, and create real-time connections between Jewish women who live on different sides of the ocean. One possible theme is Being a Jewish Woman in the 21st Century. This topic was used for study and dialogue in two separate communities, each on their own, and helped stimulate a rich and meaningful conversation when the two women’s groups came together for joint discussions during video-conference sessions.
Why Women’s Dialogue?
- To create a local women’s study group that explores Jewish meaning and Jewish life in their home community.
- To create and strengthen ties between local women’s groups in Israel and in North America through joint study, dialogue, and group interactions.
- To build a cohesive women’s group that can be a catalyst in its home community for future activities and study about personal identity and Jewish Peoplehood.
- To expose women to other women who come from different backgrounds and Jewish life styles.
- To expand awareness about Jewish Peoplehood and its specific relevance to women today.
- To introduce women to both traditional and modern Jewish texts relevant to them.
Who participates? Who facilitates?
Our target is women of all ages and backgrounds; with diverse forms of Jewish personal expression; from large, midsize, or small communities in North America and Israel; who are interested in learning and connecting with others, and studying issues of identity and Jewish Peoplehood.
In North America, the group facilitator is chosen by the local group. In Israel, the program is led by expert educators from the Department of Jewish Peoplehood. The Israeli staff works closely with the North American facilitator, and both staff work together, hand in hand, supervising and delivering a program based on the topics that the leaders choose together with their group.
What does the program include?
The women in the groups select the theme and topics they wish to study together. The learning experience occurs at the same time in both locales. In half of the sessions, each group studies on its own, and in the other half, both groups meet in a video conference. Themes are: Being a Jewish Woman; A Room of One’s Own – Women’s Writing; Culture and Gender, and other topics. There are eight to ten 3-hour meetings in each location. A session includes study, discussion, and reflection about being women – in our personal lives and in our communities. Several hour-long video conferences are held between the two women’s groups. This unique experience can be extended further with an optional face-to-face visit, either held in Israel, when the North American women visit within the framework of a larger community delegation, or in North America.