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Religious Traditions and Personal Stories

Women Working as Priests, Ministers and Rabbis


Uta Blohm

Women in roles of religious leadership represent a relatively new phenomenon within Judaism and Christianity and to some extent, a break with traditional assumptions. The study gives insight into how women are defining themselves as religious leaders and women within the context of patriarchal religion. The research is based on 50 qualitative interviews with women rabbis, Anglican priests and other Christian ministers. Some of the issues discussed concerning role, ordination and tradition are unrelated to gender. Christian interviewees describe their journeys into the ministry or priesthood predominantly as experiences of vocation whereas rabbis choose the rabbinate out of an interest in Jewish studies and in the role itself. With regard to gender women across the religious divide are facing opposition and are dealing with similar religious questions of inclusive language or the impact of traditional female roles.
Contents: Journeys to become priests, ministers or rabbis – Differences between the Christian ministry and the rabbinate – Women and their positive identification with their respective traditions – The lack of role models – Facing stereotypes and opposition – Dealing with patriarchal traditions – Traditional images of women – Questions of inclusive language.