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In the Academy: New Programs for Women

Next fall, for the first time, undergraduates in Israel will be able to major in women’s studies. Thanks to a $1 million grant from the National Council of Jewish Women, Tel Aviv University will have the first academic department in Israel devoted solely to this discipline. Taking their cues from the work of feminist scholars at American universities, Israeli universities began offering courses on women and women’s issues in the ’80s, said Professor Hannah

Naveh, who will chair Tel Aviv’s new Department of Women and Gender Studies.

“Over the years, feminist criticism and theory have developed immensely at Tel Aviv University,” Professor Naveh said. Social science and literature departments now offer approximately 80 courses on women related subjects a year, she said, with titles like “The Silence of Women in Israeli Cinema” and “The Construction of the Identity of the Mizrahi Woman.”

The Women’s Studies department will now add core courses like “Feminist Philosophy,” “Body and Body Image: Anorexia and its Cultural Origins,” and “Women’s Rights and the Struggle for Equality in Israel.”

In Potsdam, Germany, the World Union for Progressive Judaism opened in November the first rabbinic seminary in the German-speaking world since the Holocaust. At the Abraham Geiger College, women and men will study for rabbinic ordination.