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Document Type:Latin Dissertation
Language of Document:English
Record Number:54689
Doc. No:TL24643
Call number:‭NR02809‬
Main Entry:Merav Shmueli
Title & Author:The power to define tradition: Feminist challenges to religion and the Israel Supreme CourtMerav Shmueli
College:University of Toronto (Canada)
Date:2005
Degree:S.J.D.
student score:2005
Page No:477-477 p.
Abstract:Civil courts in liberal democracies often hesitate to intervene in disputes concerning the interpretation of norms of religious communities. They hold that such disputes must be resolved within the community itself. In this thesis I argue against such an approach, and hold that, since religious norms are often contested and may be interpreted in multiple ways, by adopting a 'non-intervention' approach the courts actually reinforce the interpretation chosen by hegemonic sects of the community, and perpetuate the silencing of other possible interpretations. I argue that courts must acknowledge and accommodate diversity within religious traditions. Traditions are rich and complex resources, and usually offer their adherents a range of interpretive options. In a selective process, members of religious communities make choices about what to embrace from their heritage and what to ignore. I therefore regard the question of which version of tradition prevails in a given context as a political one: it depends on who has the authority to engage in the process of interpretation, and who is excluded from it. This point is highly relevant for women, as women in virtually all religions have been denied access to decision-making processes. The thesis focuses concretely on the Jewish orthodox community in Israel, and examines the struggles of 'orthodox feminists' to add the voices of women to the process of religious interpretation. These feminists have asserted that change in the position of women under the Jewish tradition can and should be achieved 'from within', through the use of values and instruments found in the traditional framework itself. Their attempts at change have been opposed by the religious leadership, on the grounds that gender roles are unchanged and unchangeable. Such competing views about tradition and change have in some cases been brought before the Israel Supreme Court. The thesis criticizes the Court's reluctance to discuss the internal debate about religious interpretation, as this approach preserves injustice. I argue that the Court must take seriously the request of women to be included in the ongoing creation of their tradition, and to provide a space in which dissenting views about interpretation are given a voice.
Subject:Philosophy, religion and theology; Social sciences; Tradition; Feminist; Religion; Israel; Supreme Court; Jewish; Orthodox; Law; Womens studies; 0453:Womens studies; 0398:Law; 0318:Religion
Added Entry:University of Toronto (Canada)