Judith Plaskow, "Why Female Pronouns for God May Not Be Enough," Sh'ma: A Journal of Jewish Responsibility, January 9, 1987.
...But if feminist attempts to find a new vocabulary for God began in the concern with gender, they have not resulted in a uniform response to the oppressiveness of traditional language. Rather feminist explorations of God-language have gradually opened up deeper dimensions of the problem of God. Early feminist efforts to make God a mother and give her a womb, to praise her as birthgiver and nourisher, performed important functions. They validated women’s sexuality and power as part of the sacred. They pressed worshipers to confront the maleness of a supposedly sex-neutral liturgy. Yet at the same time, these efforts often left intact images of dominance and power that were still deeply troubling. If the hand that drowned the Egyptians in the Red Sea was a female hand, did that make it any more a hand feminists wanted to worship? The issue of the maleness of God-language has thus ineluctably moved to the question of the nature of the God feminists want to pray to. Where do Jewish women find God in our experience, and what do we find there? What images most powerfully evoke and express the reality of God in our lives?

Suggested Discussion Questions:

1. Do you notice when all the language and metaphors for God in traditional texts are male? Does this have an impact on your beliefs about God? Doe this have an impact on your beliefs about women?

2. What have feminists done to change traditional God-language? What, according to Plaskow, are the successes and failures of these changes?

3. How would you answer the questions Plaskow poses at the end of this excerpt?

Time Period: Contemporary (The Yom Kippur War until the present-day)