Gender Variations in Jewish Identity: Practices and Attitudes in Conservative Congregations

Publication Date: January 2001

Publisher: Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry

Author(s): Tova L. Hartman Habertal; Steven M. Cohen

Research Area: Culture and religion; Social conditions

Keywords: American Jews; Gender; Leadership

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


Although generally women are more religious than men, most research on American Jews has detected few gender-related gaps. This study focuses upon the Conservative movement in American Judaism, intriguing in part because of the relative recency of officially sponsored changes toward gender-egalitarianism. We analyze data from a mail-back survey of 1617 congregants in 27 North American congregations. Jewish men were more engaged than women in liturgical and congregational leadership, while Conservative women were more active in most social and educational activities. Women, more than men, expressed religious motivations that were connected with family and community. These complex findings led us to suggest that instances of men outperforming women can be explained by the historical residue of male leadership, and by persisting differences in education and in liturgical competence. The areas where women led men can be explained, we believe, by a greater orientation of women to relational and care-giving activities.

In Contemporary Jewry v.22, 2001, p.37-64.