STORRS, CONN– A group of prominent Jewish women scholars and authors spoke out against rising anti-Semitism within Christian feminist academic circles during the National Women’s Studies Association Convention held here May 30-June 1, 1981.
The women were members of a panel on “Anti-Semitism” organized by Batya Bauman, Coordinator, Feminists Against Anti-Semitism, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, an editor at Ms. magazine, and others, in order to bring the problem to the attention of those attending the convention, the theme of which was “Racism”. Members of the panel were: Esther Broner, author of Her Mothers and A Weave of Women among other books, who talked about her memories of anti-Semitism in Detroit before and during World War II; Paula Hyman, Dean of the Jewish Theological Seminary’s College of Jewish Studies, and Associate Professor of Jewish History, JTS, who set contemporary anti-Semitism within its historical context; Judith Plaskow, who teaches religion at Manhattan College, is coauthor of Womanspirit Rising: A feminist Reader in Religion and author of Sex, Sin and Grace, who discussed the theological roots of Christian anti-Semitism; Andrea Dworkin, author of Pornography and other books who spoke about the relationship between pornography and anti-Semitism; and Phyllis Chesler, author of About Men, With Child and other books, who described the virulently anti-Semitic atmosphere of the world conference of the United Nations Decade for Women held in Copenhagen last July 1980.
According to observers, the panelists’ presentations drew active participation from both Jewish and non-Jewish women in the audience.
The formation of the panel on anti-Semitism is one of several recent efforts to shed light on the problem of anti-Semitism within the women’s movement in general and among Christian feminist theologians in particular. The last issue of Lilith (#7) featured several articles on the subject, and a new group, Feminists Against Anti-Semitism, has been established to deal with the problem.