Conversations with my Body -- Ebook
Elana Sztokman arrived in Israel in 1993 as a young religious mother wearing a long skirt and a hat covering her hair. Today, nearly 30 years later, after spending years fighting for women’s rights in Orthodoxy, writing books about gender in religion, and eventually leaving that world behind, she confronts the personal struggles behind the public persona, revealing the traumas from her past that affected her entire relationship with her body.
From two-time winner of the National Jewish Book Council Award comes a refreshing and very personal exploration of cultures of the female body in Jewish life. This collection of essays – marking the 25-year anniversary of her feminist awakening and spanning a diverse career of research, writing, and advocacy around Jewish women’s experiences – offers political and personal insights and retrospectives on some of the most burning issues today. Topics include: sexuality, relationships, body-image, body-cover, ritual immersion, fat-shaming, slut-shaming, domestic violence, and sexual abuse. Elana brings her characteristic honesty, courage, wit, and profound insight into her writing, and shares some of her own traumas that set her on a sometimes tortuous life path.
“Conversations with My Body is Elana Sztokman's report from the front lines about the battle to control gender socialization in contemporary Orthodoxy. Unflinchingly and personally, she describes the impact on women’s body images, aspirations, and self esteem from the perspective of the injured parties. This was a very moving collection.” -- Prof Rabbi Rachel Adler, professor of Modern Jewish Thought and Judaism and Gender at Hebrew Union College
"Dr. Elana Sztokman’s book of essays offers a thought-provoking, enlightening and sometimes heartbreaking look at women’s issues in the Jewish and orthodox Jewish community. Dr. Sztokman’s insights resonate and inform in equal measure. This book is essential reading for Jewish feminists, activists, parents and anyone trying to resist the patriarchy." -- Devorah Blachor, author of The Feminist's Guide to Raising a Little Princess
“This is a life’s work: Dr Elana Sztokman admits she is ‘in recovery from religious-spiritual-emotional-sexual-abuse’ and this searingly honest collection explains why. Elana confronts the Orthodox life that shaped her childhood, highlighting the control of women’s bodies, of her own body, through essays including a focus on hair, voice, modesty and fat-shaming. This extensive collection juxtaposes her academic work about Jewish women with her own retelling of experiences creating Jewish feminist spaces in her family and community.” -- Sally Berkovic, author of Under My Hat: An Orthodox Woman Speaks Out for her Daughters
“Courageously honest, insightful relatable and beautifully written. A must read memoir.” -- Dr. Chaya R. Gorsetman
“While we already know that Dr. Sztokman says it like it is, in the best of ways. She demonstrates exceptional bravery in this compilation. Conversations with My Body is on point, is vulnerable, breaks down walls, and provides an important contribution to the conversation. I hope that it encourages and allows the conversations to actually happen.” -- Dr. Sharon Weiss-Greenberg, Jewish feminist activist, writer, social entrepreneur, and thought-leader.
About the author
Dr. Elana Maryles Sztokman is an award-winning author and leading Jewish feminist thinker, educator, research, consultant and activist specializing in gender in society. She writes and speaks all around the world about gender issues in Jewish life and traditional society, as well as in education, politics, business, media, and culture. She works with communities, organizations, and individuals around the world on advancing gender inclusion, gender equity, and compassionate cultures. Elana holds a doctorate in education and sociology/anthropology with a speciality in Gender Studies from Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and wrote her dissertation on the identity formation of adolescent religious girls in school. She currently lives in Israel. Follow her at www.jewfem.com or via Facebook or Twitter @jewfem.