HBI celebrates our 20th Anniversary this year and recognizes the vision and leadership of our founding director, Professor Shulamit Reinharz. In our first 20 years, we have engaged with thousands of scholars, authors, artists and community members around issues of Jews and gender. We have helped create the field of Jewish gender studies and continue to support its growth.
Be a part of our future by making a donation to the HBI.
GCRL Lunchtime Seminars
The lectures meet on Mondays from 12:00pm to 1:30pm in the Liberman-Miller Lecture Hall at HBI. A kosher lunch will be provided. Click here for schedule.
The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute develops fresh ways of thinking about Jews and gender worldwide by producing and promoting scholarly research, artistic projects and public engagement.
The world's only academic center of its kind, the HBI provides research resources and programs for scholars, students and the public. The Institute publishes books and a journal, convenes international conferences and local programming, and offers competitive grant and internship programs.
We invite you to explore our website and experience the impact of the HBI.
Anat Granit-Hacohen's Book Launch
Hebrew Women Join the Forces: Jewish Women from Palestine in the British Forces During the Second World War
Thursday, March 30, 2017
12:30 pm - 2:00 pm
HBI's Liberman Miller Lecture Hall
Kosher lunch served. RSVP recommended.
During the Second World War, some 3,600 Jewish women from Palestine volunteered to serve in the British armed forces in the Middle East. The recruitment of women was in defiance of all conventional male thought. Not least because these women were joining the British Army – a foreign and colonial army – and this created a unique situation that cast gender and nationalist issues in a new light. This book is the first to tackle these new perspectives.
Visit our Events page for more HBI events.
Helène Aylon Opens at HBI
The HBI is hosting Helène Aylon during the 2017 spring semester. This groundbreaking, Jewish, feminist artist has created an installation in the Kniznick Gallery of the Women's Studies Research Center at Brandeis University as part of the year-long celebration of HBI's founding director, Shulamit Reinharz, who will retire at the end of June 2017.
Afterword: For the Children
Monday, March 20, 2017 - Friday, June 16, 2017
Internationally-acclaimed Jewish feminist artist Helène Aylon presents her conclusion to The G-d Project: Nine Houses Without Women, her 20-year series highlighting the dismissal of women in Jewish traditions and text. In Afterword: For the Children, Aylon dedicates her finale in the series to the future generations, challenging all who regard The Ten Commandments not to shrug off a dark foreboding which emanates in her view, from the patriarchy - not from God.
The text of the Second Commandment holds future generations responsible for the sins of their fathers. The artist’s examination of this text reveals a universal dilemma through its connection to contemporary policies and practices that shape the world our children will inherit. The concept of “Tikkun Olam” (correction of the world) holds significance in Aylon’s immersive digital installation, as her continuous attempt at “repairing” the revered text becomes a quiet yet assertive protest.
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Aylon's exhibition "Afterword: For the Children" will travel to the Jerusalem Biennale 2017 opening on October 1st, 2017.
International Agunah Day
In recognition of International Agunah Day, HBI highlights some of our ongoing scholarship and activism around the agunah issue.
On Wednesday, March 15, 2017, HBI Scholar-in-residence, Rabbi Gail Labovitz, Associate Professor of Rabbinic Literature at the American Jewish University, presented, With Righteousness and Justice: Creating a Connection Between Equitable Marriage and Equitable Divorce in Jewish Law.
As part of the HBI's Spring Seminar, Female Interpreters of Religious Law: Women's Leadership as Clergy, Educators, Advisers and Judges, Labovitz, asked: Could Jewish law provide for, or at least accommodate, alternative means of marriage and divorce? And if so, what other options might we find within the traditional legal sources by which to structure an egalitarian marital commitment between two persons and a concomitant procedure for undoing such a commitment.
- The Boston Agunah Taskforce is devoted to research, education and advocacy for fairness in the Jewish divorce process. We believe that withholding a Jewish divorce is a form of domestic abuse. Read more about our work in HBI Works to Prevent Get Abuse by Layah Lipsker.
- Recent program with ORA: Domestic Abuse & Jewish Law: The Interplay Between Social Justice and the Jewish Divorce Process. Watch here.
- HBI published Marriage and Divorce in the Jewish State: Israel’s Civil War by Netty C. Gross-Horowitz and Susan M. Weiss, published in the HBI Series on Jewish Women and the Brandeis Series on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law.
- HBI hosted the 2015 Seminar, New Approaches to the Agunah Program with Dr. Susan M. Weiss, Dr. Haim Sperber and Rabbi Aryeh Klapper.
- We published many blogs in Fresh Ideas from HBI. Here is a sampling:
- Date Night at the Halachic Prenup Party by Lisa Fishbayn Joffe, HBI’s Associate Director
- A New Form of Domestic Abuse in the Jewish Community by Layah Lipsker of the Boston Agunah Task Force
- To Shame or Not to Shame? That is the Question by Yael C.B. Machtinger is a Ph.D Candidate in Socio-Legal Studies at York University.
- Let's Talk About Israel's Blacklist by Susan Weiss (also published in the Forward’s Sisterhood)
HBI Welcomes Professors Gail Labovitz and Hikmet Kocamaner as Scholars-in-Residence
Dr. Hikmet Kocamaner is a cultural anthropologist who specializes in secularism, political Islam, mass media, gender, and the politics of the family in Turkey. Read complete bio.
Dr. Gail Labovitz is Associate Professor of Rabbinic Literature at the American Jewish University, where she teaches rabbinic texts and Jewish law for the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies. Read complete bio.
On February 2, 2017, HBI partnered with ORA and J-FAB in a panel that discussed the plight of agunot and the halachic prenup. Panelists included Rabbi Jeremy Stern Director of ORA, Rabbi Aryeh Klapper of the Boston Beit Din and Boston Agunah Taskforce, Elizabeth Schön Vainer the Outreach and Program Director from Journey to Safety, at Boston's Jewish Family and Children's Service, and Rachel Light, a former agunah. The event was moderated by HBI's Lisa Fishbayn Joffe.
Watch event in its entirety. Note: The stream will pause during Rachel Light's commentary, which we were not permitted to record, but will resume.
- The Polygamy Question by Lisa Fishbayn Joffe and Janet Bennion
- Legalizing Marriage Pluralism by Mark Goldfeder
- Polygyny: What it Means When African-American Muslim Women Share Their Husbands by Debra Majeed
In case you missed the event on January 30, 2017, you can watch it in its entirety below:
Defying Expectations: Chess Grandmaster Susan Polgar
Chess is one of the world's oldest games and is played in almost every culture. In spite of its far reach, it remains incredibly gender exclusive. On February 1, 2017, HBI and Brandeis University's Chess Club hosted Grandmaster Susan Polgar, one of the strongest chess players of the past 50 years and the first woman to earn the Grandmaster title through tournament play. She spoke about gender barriers in chess and her educational efforts with young girls. Polgar played, simultaneously, against five members of the audience and take questions.
Boston Agunah Taskforce Named Semi-finalist, Lippman-Kanfer Prize
Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah names the Boston Agunah Taskforce as a semi-finalist for the Lippman-Kanfer Prize for Applied Jewish Wisdom. The Boston Agunah Taskforce is devoted to research, education and advocacy for fairness in the Jewish divorce process. The Taskforce believes that withholding a Jewish divorce is a form of domestic abuse.
HBI Bids Farewell to Summer Interns and Academic Adviser, Rachel Bernstein
After a day of presentations on their individual research projects, HBI bids farewell to both the 2016 Gilda Slifka interns and their Academic Adviser, Rachel Bernstein. After eight years, Bernstein shares her experience and memories in Thanks for All the Summers: A Love Letter to HBI, available on our blog.
HBI Partners with JOFA for Free Webinar: Love, Marriage, and Jewish Families
How do young women and men feel about sex, love, and marriage? Who gets married and when? How do couples and individuals decide about children? What are the changing faces of modern Jewish families and what do diverse families mean for American Jewish life today?
On May 12, 2016, JOFA and HBI partnered for a free webinar with Professor Sylvia Barack Fishman, editor of Love, Marriage, and Jewish Families: Paradoxes of a Social Revolution and Dr. Michelle Shain, author of the chapter "Dreams and Realities: American Jewish Young Adults' Decisions about Fertility." Amy Powell, communications director at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, moderated the discussion.
HBI Gives $75,000 in Research Awards
Titles like “Wild, Outside, in the Night: Maurice Sendak, Queer American Jewishness, and the Child” and “Kadosh Kadosh Kadosh: All Rise for Women on a Beit Din” are just two of the 25 research awards the HBI will support over the following year.
These projects, of Golan Moskowitz and Helene Aylon respectively, and the others received a total of $75,000 after the annual Academic Advisory Committee meeting in December, 2015. The AAC, comprised of 160 experts and academics from 52 schools in eight countries, review the appropriate proposals and comment over a review period. The process culminates with a day-long meeting at HBI, this year attended by 30 members, to discuss the finalists. Final decisions are made by Prof. Sylvia Barack Fishman, HBI’s co-director and chair of the AAC along with Prof. Shulamit Reinharz, HBI’s founding director and Dr. Lisa Fishbayn Joffe, associate director of HBI and director of the Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law.
The research awards support the HBI mission of developing fresh ways of thinking about Jews and gender worldwide. Sub-categories include History, Israel and the Yishuv; Families, Children and the Holocaust; Diaspora Studies, Judaism, Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law, Biography, Film and Video and Arts.
Gilda Slifka Internship Program
HBI in the News
The Polygamy Question, edited by Janet Bennion and Lisa Fishbayn Joffe, reviewed by Feminist Legal Studies and Reading Religion: A Publication of American Academy of Religion.
"MLA Awards Fenia and Yaakov Leviant Memorial Prize in Yiddish Studies to Kathryn Hellerstein," former Scholar-in-Residence.
Contemporary Jewry reviews Love, Marriage, and Jewish Families: Paradoxes of a Social Revolution, edited by HBI's co-director, Sylvia Barack Fishman.
HBI director, Shulamit Reinharz, WSRC Scholar Jutta Lindert, et. al, publish paper on Psychopathology of Children of Genocide Survivors: A Systematic Review on the Impact of Genocide on Their Children‘s Psychopathology from Five Countries.
The JOFA Journal reviews Love, Marriage, and Jewish Families: Paradoxes of a Social Revolution, edited by HBI co-director, Sylvia Barack Fishman.
Former SIR, Lori Harrison-Kahan, wins Western Literature Association's Don D. Walker Prize for research done at HBI on her paper, Miriam Michelson’s Yellow Journalism and the Multi-Ethnic West.
Congratulations to Julia Creet, former HBI scholar-in-residence and AAC member; Sara R. Horowitz, AAC member, and Amira Bojadzija-Dan, for winning the Canadian Jewish Book award in the category of Jewish Thought and Culture for H.G. Adler: Life, Literature, Legacy (Northwestern University Press).
HBI Board member, Talia Carner, discusses her Jewish identity in The Times of Israel.
Orit Rozin’s new book, A Home for All Jews: Citizenship, Rights, and National Identity in the New Israeli State, in the Brandeis Series on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law, gets a rave review in The New Rambler.
Rivka Neriya-Ben Shahar, former HBI scholar-in-residence, writes about how women in two devout communities cope with the Internet, in Negotiating agency: Amish and ultra-Orthodox women’s responses to the Internet in the journal, New Media and Society.
Great review in Mooney on the Theatre on the work of former HBI Scholar-in-residence, Katka Reszke, a Polish filmmaker for "We Keep Coming Back.”
HBI Intern, Nora Smolonsky, writes in Mayyim Hayyim’s blog, A Visit to Mayyim Hayyim: A Nondenominational Mikveh.
Janet H. Burstein publsihed Israeli Mothers in Film:“Re-visioning” Culture, Engendering Autonomy in Project Muse.
HBI founding director, Shulamit Reinharz is quoted in the Forward, The Frum Filmmakers Revolutionizing Cinema.
Brandeis student newspaper, The Justice, writes Evolving Families about the book launch for Love, Marriage and Jewish Families: Paradoxes of a Social Revolution.
HBI's former scholar-in-residence Kathryn Hellerstein in The Daily Pennsylvanian on influential women in the Yiddish tradition.