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Norma Baumel Joseph

JOSEPH, NORMA BAUMEL (1944– ), Canadian professor, Orthodox feminist, activist. Joseph received her B.A. from Brooklyn College in 1966 and M.A. from the City University of New York in 1968. She became associate professor in the Department of Religion at Concordia University in Montreal, where she served in various administrative positions, including director of the women and religion specialization. Her teaching and research areas include women and Judaism, Jewish law and ethics, and women and religion. Her doctoral dissertation, completed in 1995 at Concordia University, focused on the legal decisions of Rabbi Moses *Feinstein concerning the separate spheres for women in the Jewish community. The dissertation was nominated for a Governor General's Gold medal award for excellence. From the early 1970s she promoted women's greater participation in Jewish religious and communal life. Joseph appeared in, and served as consultant to the films Half the Kingdom (1990) and Untying the Bonds…Jewish Divorce (1999). A founding member of the Canadian Coalition of Jewish Women for the Get (Jewish divorce), Joseph successfully worked with the Jewish community and the Canadian Federal Government to pass a law in 1990 (Divorce Act, ch.18, 21.1) that would protect Jewish women in difficult divorce situations and aid them in their pursuit of a Jewish divorce. Following the Canadian success, Joseph helped form and presided over the International Coalition for Agunah Rights, an organization for women whose husbands refuse to consent to a Jewish divorce. Author of many publications in the field of feminism and Jewish Law, Joseph won the Leo Wasserman Prize from the American Jewish Historical Society for the best article of 1995 in the journal American Jewish History.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.