Submissions Sought for Upcoming Gender Boundaries in Jewish Law Conference

Submissions Sought for Upcoming Gender Boundaries in Jewish Law Conference
Law School Office of Communications
December 30, 2009

Proposals from potential speakers are being solicited for a one-day conference on gender boundaries in Jewish or Israeli law to be held in March at the University of Chicago Law School.

This small one day conference on March 1, 2010, will be structured around two documentary films, Praying in Her Own Voice and Paper Dolls (Bubyot Niyar), each centered on ways in which Israeli law and culture deal with individuals and groups who transcend the gender boundaries of Jewish law. The conference title is taken from Deuteronomy 10:22, which declares it to be an abomination for a woman to put on what pertains to a man and for a man to wear women's clothing.

The conference will be held coincident to the feast of Purim, which commemorates Esther's saving the Jewish people by crossing uninvited from the women's quarters to the king's inner court. The feast is traditionally celebrated with masquerades including some cross-dressing. Purim and the megilla of Esther are also important to the Women of the Wall, who are the subjects of Praying in Her Own Voice. The Women of the Wall's decades- long quest to pray and read from Torah scrolls wearing tallit at the Western Wall in Jerusalem led them several times to the Israeli Supreme Court.

The conference will juxtapose the Women of the Wall's attempt to transcend gender boundaries with that of a very different group, the Paper Dolls, a drag performance troupe whose members are transgendered Filipino care workers in Israel. The award-winning Paper Dolls documentary explores the mulitiplicity of ways in which the group negotiates and transcends gender boundaries while examining the members' interactions with both the elderly orthodox Jewish men they are employed to care for and the gay male Israeli club patrons for whom they audition as performers.

Confirmed speakers for the conference include Aeyal Gross of Tel Aviv University, Pnina Lahav of Boston University, and Martin F. Manalansan IV of the University of Illinois. A few additional speakers will be included. Proposals are sought in the form of an abstract or draft paper dealing with any aspect of Transcending Gender Boundaries in Jewish or Israeli Law, by no means limited to the subjects of the two films. Papers from all disciplines are welcomed.

The conference sponsors include the University of Chicago Law School's Workshop on Regulating Family, Sex, and Gender and the University's Center for Gender Studies, Program in Jewish Studies, and Program in Human Rights

Please e-mail proposals to Mary Anne Case at Proposals received before January 6, 2010, will receive full consideration.

Mary Anne Case