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Bonna Devora Haberman

Bonna Devora Haberman (1960-2015) is the author of Israeli Feminism Liberating Judaism: Blood and Ink and ReReading Israel: The Spirit of the Matter, National Jewish Book Award finalist. Dr. Haberman has taught at Harvard, Brandeis and Hebrew universities. In Jerusalem, she initiated Women of the Wall, a 25 year strong movement for women's full participation and leadership of public religious practice. Dr. Haberman earned her doctorate in Ethics and Education at the University of London. Having grown up in Canada, studied in the USA, Israel, and England, her work in and out of the academy fuses critical interpretation of texts and culture with passion for social betterment. She has published widely and taught at the Hebrew University, at the Harvard University Divinity School and at Brandeis University where she founded and directed the “Mistabra Institute for Jewish Textual Activism” – addressing difficult texts and social problems using performance arts. With Mistabra, she created and performed two full-length theater pieces, Inner Fire—about Jewish peoplehood, Israel, and territory, and Unmasking Esther. She studied with Augusto Boal, the Brazilian founder of Theater of the Oppressed. Dr. Haberman passed away in June 2015.


כַּוָּנָה לְהַדְלָקַת נֵרוֹת חֲנֻכָּה | Kavvanah for Ḥanukkiah Lighting by Bonna Devora Haberman, z”l (Mistabra Institute for Jewish Textual Activism, 2002)

Contributed on: 20 Dec 2012 by Bonna Devora Haberman |

This is an intention that I composed for the conclusion of a performance piece, Inner Fire, created and performed by my Mistabra Institute for Jewish Textual Activism at Brandeis University in 2002. It is as relevant today as ever. Please use it for inspiration when you light Ḥanuka candles. . . .

📄 Megillat Esther, a synopsis by Dr. Bonna Devora Haberman

Contributed on: 03 Mar 2015 by Bonna Devora Haberman |

What are the inner workings of such an intricately crafted story that it devolves into so much gratuitous violence at the end? Haman’s racism follows imminently upon the heels of the king’s sexism. Indeed, the root of Haman’s wrath against Mordekhai and the Jews parallels the king’s fury against Vashti and the women. Both Vashti and Mordekhai refused to submit to degradation before authority. Disdain for and subordination of women are pre-conditions for the progression toward violent evils that threaten to prevail under the jester-king. One of the fundaments of feminism is that until we fix the basic gender dyad, there will be no resolution of other derivative inequalities, prejudices, and abuses—at personal, ethnic, national, and global levels. Core relationships between woman and man must embody mutual respect, dignity, and equality in our humanity. . . .