Cara Rock-Singer is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Previously, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Cornell University, jointly appointed in the Jewish Studies Program and the Science and Technology Studies Department. She received a B.A. in Molecular Biology from Princeton (2009), M.St. in Theology with a focus on Religion and Science from Oxford (2010), and the Ph.D. (2018) from Columbia University’s Religion Department. As a scholar of North American Religions, her research and teaching center on the relationship among gender, Judaism and science in the contemporary United States. Her book project, Gestating Judaism: The Corpuses and Corporalities of American Jewish Feminisms, critically examines how American Jewish women in the United States and Israel deploy gendered technologies and knowledge to challenge normative structures within Jewish social and religious life.
Given the history of othering and control of women’s bodies, it may surprise you to learn that the mikveh has become a central site of Jewish feminist, and more recently, queer and trans activism. Across the United States, Canada, and Israel, participants in a grassroots Modern Mikveh Movement have been collectively reclaiming what many have considered to be among the most irredeemable misogynistic forms of bodily disciplining.
First, we must all remember our history and stop the blatant amnesia behind racial and power dynamics in our field…Women and enslaved persons were not a part of the founders’ initial understanding. The same is true for the founding identities of the Society of Biblical Literature.