Celebrating Jewish Feminism … in Serbia


About eighty mostly-European, mostly-Jewish feminists gathered in Belgrade, Serbia, in September for the ninth Bet Debora conference. The History of the region makes this significant.

In 1989 the Berlin Wall fell, and the Soviet Union crumbled two years later. There was room for Jewish renewal and flowering in countries that had been behind the Iron Curtain. But not in the former Yugoslavia.

Instead, in the early 1990s when Rosh Hodesh groups were first gathering in a united Berlin, Yugoslavia was turning into a failed and former country. When travelers in Prague were following women-led Jewish tours, Yugoslavia was in civil war. When women throughout the former Soviet bloc were discovering they were Jewish, learning to lead seders, creating egalitarian services and studying for the rabbinate, Jewish women in bombed-out Sarajevo were, alongside men, providing food and medicine to their fellow citizens of all ethnicities.

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