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Wednesday, April 22 • 10:45am - 11:05am
Tikkun Olam, Feminism, and Social Justice: The Stories of Jewish Women in Asheville

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Jews in America occupy an interesting position as neither being fully integrated nor fully excluded from mainstream culture. While being Jewish can be considered an ethnicity and religion, it is not often considered a race. Although Jews have been persecuted in the past, most recently during the Holocaust, as a group they are often successful and more prosperous than other minorities. The measure of oppression in terms of material wealth and socio-economic status marginalizes Jews from dialogues about oppression. This paper explores how Jewish women’s understanding of their cultural, religious, ethnic, and gender identities influence their understanding of themselves in American society. An importance is placed on practicing social justice through the value of tikkun olam. Jewish women, who face prejudice and oppression for their multiple layers of identity, are more likely to pursue tikkun olam through their work and in their personal lives. This paper demonstrates how intersectional identities and social justice are linked. These people, who are women and Jewish, incorporate the broader Jewish experience into their own personal beliefs of social justice, and some incorporate beliefs about social justice into their Jewish experience. Their intersecting identities as women and as Jews give them a unique understanding of oppression and their role in social justice. Personal narrative is used to explore this question of identity and social justice. Over a period of four months, Jewish women in Asheville were interviewed. This paper concludes that participants’ Jewish and identities as women influence their understanding of oppression and social justice.


Wednesday April 22, 2015 10:45am - 11:05am PDT
246 Zageir Hall

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