Hospitality, ethics of care and the traditionist feminism of Beit Midrash Arevot
An experiential essay
This is an exploration of women’s tradition of hospitality, the epistemic and moral contribution of their practices of welcoming the other and their historical experience as providers of care. The essay claims that female hospitality has largely consisted of care for others, which challenges a social model based on individualism and self-sufficiency. The argument is rooted in ethnography and Jewish thought and reclaims the home as an ethical space. This text analyses two disturbing and painful stories from the Tanakh that are both examples of the consequences of extreme or absolute hospitality and violence against women. The famous works of Jacques Derrida and Emmanuel Lévinas on hospitality as ethics and hospitality as the feminine are discussed vis-à-vis anthropological and feminist approaches to the connection between the female welcoming of the other and the ethics of care. Finally, the reflections of the members of Beit Midrash Arevot (Jerusalem) shed light on a traditionist feminism that develops an ethics and practice of hospitality as welcoming otherness.
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