This chapter highlights some key contexts in which feminist ethical discourses emerge, and important methods that Jewish feminists employ in order to address gender and other inequalities, arguing that all the many forms of Jewish feminism are “fundamentally about ethics.” Across denominations, in the broader feminist movement, in academia, and in Israel as well as North America, Jewish women have been reshaping what and how Jews and non-Jews think and act—regarding women, gender, inequality and injustice, and many other critical ethical issues, including Judaism itself. Feminist methodologies creatively critique halakhah, theology, liturgy, ritual, and textual interpretation, with implications for social and political analysis and activism. In doing so, Jewish feminists “have created both a rich literature and a legacy of activism that is ethical to its core.”
In his analysis of postmodern theology, which details the imbrication of theology in discourses of power, Gavin Hyman casually evokes the term “Indian territory” to connote the space from which the theologian must resort to the tactics of the “outlaw.” In his larger argument, he evokes an Agamban-like state of exception for theology, where theology must be conducted in the realm of radical undecidability, a theology excluded from but belonging to the law, as it were. So, it is significant that, to make this argument, Hyman relies on the obvious racist connotation of Natives as “outlaws” who live in a place without a home. This chapter argues that this tendency to depict Natives as “outlaws” is not unique to Hyman, but exists even within feminist and liberation theologies. That is, the United States, despite the critiques which many theologians make of it, is still envisaged as a place of law, thereby rending Native peoples, whose genocide is the foundation of the USA, outside the law. Consequently, the theological strategy of engagement with Native peoples does resemble the tactic of “raid and return”: that is, a selective use of “indigenous” principles without engagement in the fundamental contradiction indigenous peoples expose in the project of liberation. Furthermore, this problematic engagement is fundamentally gendered.