Pioneering Jewish Feminist Theologian Judith Plaskow Inducted into National Women's Hall of Fame

The professor emerita of religious studies spent more than three decades teaching at Manhattan College.

Judith Plaskow, professor emerita of religious studies at Manhattan College, is one of eight inductees into the National Women’s Hall of Fame for 2024. Plaskow joins an elite group of 315 women that includes historical figures such as Clara Barton and Helen Keller and more contemporary individuals such as Jane Fonda and Aretha Franklin. This year’s class will be officially inducted at a March 2024 ceremony in New York City that will be broadcast on public television stations throughout the country. Other 2024 inductees include tennis great Serena Williams. Judith Plaskow

“When I actually read it and looked at the list of past inductees, I was blown away,” Plaskow said, admitting that she had initially deleted the induction email, thinking it was part of a fundraising campaign. “Me in a Hall of Fame with Harriet Tubman, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, Michelle Obama and  Ruth Bader Ginsberg? What I feel good about is that I'm the first inductee with a degree in religious studies and the first whose work focuses on Judaism. I will bring to light the exciting work that has been accomplished in those areas.”

Plaskow’s awardee biography notes her extensive accomplishments and what makes her uniquely qualified to be inducted into the hall alongside these other legendary women.  

“Judith Plaskow is an American theologian, author and activist known for being the first Jewish feminist theologian. She earned her doctorate from Yale University in 1975 and spent over three decades teaching religious studies at Manhattan College. Plaskow launched the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion in 1985 and served as the journal’s editor for its first 10 years and from 2012 to 2016. Plaskow also helped found B’not Esh, a Jewish feminist spirituality collective and served as president of the American Academy of Religion.”

A prolific writer, Plaskow continues to play an integral role in the development of Jewish feminist theology. The Hall of Fame called her most significant book, Standing Again at Sinai: Judaism from a Feminist Perspective. The book’s thesis is that the absence of female perspectives in Jewish history has negatively impacted the religion and Plaskow urges Jewish feminists to reclaim their place in the Torah and in Jewish thought. Standing Again at Sinai is one of the first Jewish feminist theological texts ever written and is considered by many to be a seminal Jewish text of the 20th century.

Plaskow, who began teaching at Manhattan College in 1979, also holds her master’s degree from Yale University and her bachelor’s degree from Clark University. Plaskow has received Doctor of Humane Letters degrees from Hebrew Union College (New York campus) and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.

“This year’s inductee class, just as those from our first induction ceremony 50 years ago, is full of women who broke barriers, challenged the status quo and left an indelible mark on history,” said Jennifer Gabriel, the Women’s Hall of Fame executive director.

By Patrice Athanasidy