JOFA Australia believes that the best way to empower women and help them take on positions of leadership is to provide opportunities that provide further training and education. In 2021, in response to overwhelming feedback that Australian orthodox women felt that they needed further opportunities to provide skills training, JOFA established a scholarship fund. In 2021, JOFA Australia awarded twenty $1000 scholarships to twenty Australian women who wanted to become qualified Kallah teachers. This training was provided by the Eden Centre, in Jerusalem. In 2022, JOFA Australia expects to offer further scholarships to orthodox women wanting skills training.
Following the 100 in-person launch event of JOFA Australia in Melbourne in May 2021, JOFA Australia has hosted a number of international speakers and local Australian speakers on Zoom to provide information and education to the Australian Jewish community. In 2021, JOFA Australia hosted international guests Rabbanit Shira Marili Mirvis, Rabbanit Devorah Evron and Aussie-Israeli Yoetzet Halacha Michal Roness to address the community on topics relating to women’s leadership, new developments in international Orthodox Jewish communities as well as understanding the Orthodox Jewish position on IVF and fertility preservation. In 2021, JOFA Australia also hosted Sydney IVF Mashgicha Michelle Eisenberg and former Melburnian Mina Cohen dedicated to understanding IVF, fertility and egg preservation in accordance with orthodox Jewish law. In 2022 JOFA Australia will be hosting further events that provide information and education on a range of topics as well as topics that cover women’s leadership and empowerment.
Orthodox Women’s Speaker Bureau
JOFA Australia created the first Australian Jewish women’s speaker bureau. This resource will be helpful for many Jewish community organizations seeking to better include women and are seeking women they can include on panels, host as scholar-in-residence and include in discussions. Previously, many organisations and synagogues have expressed interest in having a centralised bureau that will allow them to find orthodox women who are qualified to speak at events or on panels and we hope that by creating this resource we will multiply the opportunities available for women in communities across Australia,” The speaker bureau is housed on the JOFA Australia website, and the expression of interest form has an option allowing people to both self-nominate or nominate other qualified women. Women from all states and territories across Australia are invited to apply.
JOFA Australia will continue to advocate for greater inclusion and opportunities for all orthodox women in all areas of Jewish community life. Aims for 2022 include publishing guides, providing access to information and helping women make informed Halachic decisions.