The “tempered radical” revolution: Multifocal strategies of religious-zionist feminism in Israel

Tanya Zion-Waldoks*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Agunah activism, a flagship struggle of Religious-Zionist feminism, links gender politics, Jewish-Orthodox politics, and national Israeli politics. This qualitative study focuses on agunah activists’ strategies and conceptions of change, highlighting the complex ways religious women radically transform conservative contexts, complicated by intersections of religion, gender, and state. It examines dynamic boundary-work and how activists deploy the inner workings of “the Halakhic framework” to shift creatively between social positioning, ideological or cultural positioning, and a political positioning to create “change from within”. My case study troubles the premise that religion and feminism are antithetical, and that distinct identities or set social locations predetermine social movements’ frames or actions. I expand upon the term “tempered radicals” which challenges reformist/revolutionary and conservative/radical binaries. “Tempered radical” strategies are twopronged: a tempered mode of modulation and moderation to rock the boat without falling out (avoid the red lines, find “the right way”) and a radical mode of stirring the sea and creating horizons (arrive there, one way or another). Dynamically holding both modes together, through a “multifocal lens”— the world-as-it-is and the world-as-it-should-be—enables their strategic maneuverings. They remain “within” while radically transforming individuals, communities, Jewish law, Orthodox society and the Israeli public sphere. This study demonstrates how religious and gendered structures are at once constitutive and mutable.

Original languageEnglish
Article number628
Pages (from-to)pp 20
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This findings in this research are drawn from a dissertation which was supported by Gazit-Globe Fellowship for Outstanding Doctoral Students in the Negev, Bar Ilan University’s President’s Fund for Outstanding Doctoral Candidates, the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture’s Doctoral Scholarship, and the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute Research Award.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the author. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Activism
  • Boundary work
  • Feminism
  • ModernOrthodoxy
  • Orthodoxy
  • Religious-Zionism
  • Tempered radical
  • feminism
  • tempered radical
  • boundary work
  • Modern-Orthodoxy
  • activism

RAMBI Publications

  • Rambi Publications
  • Orthodox Judaism -- Israel
  • Agunahs -- Israel
  • Feminists -- Israel -- Public opinion
  • Jewish women -- Religious life -- Israel


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