Gender variations in Jewish identity: Practices and attitudes in conservative congregations

Tova L. Hartman Halbertal, Steven M. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although generally women are more religious than men, most research on American Jews has detected few gender-related gaps. This study focuses upon the Conservative movement in American Judaism, intriguing in part because of the relative recency of officially sponsored changes toward gender-egalitarianism. We analyze data from a mail-back survey of 1617 congregants in 27 North American congregations. Jewish men weremore engaged than women in liturgical and congregational leadership, while Conservative women were more active in most social and educational activities. Women, more than men, expressed religious motivations that were connected with family and community. These complex findings led us to suggest that instances of men outperforming women can be explained by the historical residue of male leadership, and by persisting differences in education and in liturgical competence. The areas where women led men can be explained, we believe, by a greater orientation of women to relational and care-giving activities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-64
Number of pages28
JournalContemporary Jewry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


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