09 Feb 90

Dateline, Dallas (2/9/90) By Kathleen Reese, Times Herald Staff

Women still have a long way to go in eliminating sexism in religious
communities, and Susannah Heschel says feminist solidarity is the way to
accomplish it.  Heschel says she was reared in a "religious Jewish
family" in New York and studied the history of Christianity and modern
Protestant theology at Harvard Divinity School. She is an assistant
professor of religious studies at Southern Methodist University's
Perkins Schoolou4eology. She spoke recently on "Feminist Dialogue in
Religious Contexts" as part of Perkins' Women's Week convocation.

"When I started studying feminist theology I had such anger", she said.
One book -- "Beyond God the Father" by Mary Daley -- had a profound
effect on her. "It's a powerful book" she said. "It brought together the
problems and showed the deeper, underlying problems.  It eased the
frustrations, but I was also depressed." Defining the problems "opened
an abyss" she said, and led to feelings of despair and anger.

"Then I edited a book and that relieved the anger." The book, "On Being
a Jewish Feminist" is a collection of essays with an introduction by
Heschel. "It was constructive and it gave me a sense of community. I
found out others feel the way I do."

Part of her frustration stems from the age-old struggle of women to
enter what traditionally have been considered men's domains. Women in
the ministry are becoming more common, but they seldom attain a senior
post in a congregation.

"It's a question of power. We have to enter the realms of men .. and
retain a sense of loyalty to other women", she said. "Women from
different religious communities can come together and talk. We must have
sympathy for one another and not be haughty. We can't say, `Oh, she's a
Muslim, she's really got it bad.' Women must be careful to watch for
sexism in all areas of life, not just religion. When women say [sexism]
doesn't bother them, they're showing a lack of awareness. We have to be
in solidarity with other women."

Perkins' Women's Week, a series of lectures and workshops on religious
issues was held concurrently with Minister's Week and Laity Week on the

   Coeta Mills
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