For Christians interested in both the Jewish roots of their faith and the role of Jewish women in the time of Jesus and his apostles, the scholarship of the late Dr. Chana Safrai (1946-2008) provides a welcome source of valuable insights, given her focus on the role of women in Judaism of the Second Temple era. Her fields of specialty included rabbinic literature, especially in regard to the status of women and gender; and literary, ideological and historical connections between Jewish and Christian sacred texts.
Dr. Safrai received her M.A. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and completed her Ph.D. at the University of Utrecht, Holland. Her Ph.D. thesis was entitled, “Women in the Temple in Jerusalem.”
Her academic positions included the following: visiting lecturer in Jewish Thought at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Jerusalem University College; Research Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute; and Professor of Talmud and Jewish Thought at Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main and Wuppertal Theological Hoschshule in Germany.
Dr. Safrai was chairwoman of the educational committee of the International Council of Jewish Women, and served as a member of both the Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research and the Jewish-Christian Relations Research Center. She co-edited (with Micah D. Halpern) the volume Jewish Legal Writings by Women (Jerusalem: Urim Publications, 1998). Her last book, Women Outside/Women Inside (Hebrew; Tel Aviv: Yedioth Ahronoth, 2008), co-authored with her student Avital Campbell-Hochstein, combines rabbinics and women’s studies.