Last year in honor of Tu B'Shevat, we created a new page on jwa.org to feature Jewish women in environmental activism, and honored six women actively engaged in that work. After it “went live,” we were excited to find that several people submitted comments suggesting other Jewish women who deserved recognition. We heard those suggestions, and this year we brought the question to you—“who would you add to our list?” We asked, and you answered! We have received the names of over 30 women in response to our call.
Ruth Proskauer Smith, a longtime women's and human rights activist, passed away last Friday at the impressive age of 102. Smith co-founded the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, which later became the National Abortion Rights Action League and is today known as NARAL Pro-Choice America.
Saturday is Tu B'Shevat, known as the "Jewish New Year for trees," the "Jewish Arbor Day," or the "Jewish birthday for trees." The holiday has an interesting history that, believe it or not, began with taxes. Lenore Skenazy explains in The Forward:
Back about 2,000 years ago, Tu B’Shevat — literally the 15th day of the month of Shvat — was a tax deadline, of sorts. Any trees planted before Tu B’Shvat were considered to have been “born” the previous year. Those planted after Tu B’Shvat (or, perhaps those that started blooming after Tu B’Shvat) were part of the next year’s crop. As the amount of fruit you were required to tithe from each tree was determined by its age, this date was significant. And since the easiest way to remember a tree’s birthday was to plant it on that day, that’s what some folks did: planted.
Today is the 37 anniversary of the Supreme Court's legalization of abortion in the Roe v. Wade decision, and as such, it's also NARAL's 5th annual Blog for Choice Day. The question NARAL has posed for this year is "What does Trust Women mean to you?" And I've chosen to answer this as historians do best -- by dipping into the archives for a story about Jewish women and reproductive rights that goes back much farther than 1973.
Today, when most Reform synagogues have a social action committee and when legal segregation is a thing of the past, it may be hard for us to understand how some American Jews could not support and participate in the Civil Rights Movement. Over the last seven months, as I’ve worked on a high school curriculum about Jewish participation in the Civil Rights Movement for the Jewish Women’s Archive, I have been examining this issue and many others that highlight the complexities of Civil Rights history.
Lynn Amowitz was born and raised in North Carolina. Her community had very few Jews –- so few that her parents founded a synagogue in order for her to have a Bat Mitzvah. Amowitz suffered anti-semitic harassment from her peers, an experience which, she said, led to her work in human rights.
Ever since Bart Stupak finagled his anti-choice amendment onto the House’s Health Care Reform bill three weeks ago, my life seems to be all Stupak, all the time. I have attended rallies, visited Capitol Hill to talk to my Senators, helped plan a Lobby Day on December 2 with a broad group of progressive organizations known as the Stop Stupak coalition, supported students as they plan their own on-campus actions, and organized online to get the word out as much as possible.
On a cold November morning onehundred years ago today, more than 20,000 immigrant workers--mostly young Jewishwomen--took to the streets of the lower east side of New York, kicking off aneleven-week general strike of the shirtwaist industry knows as the Uprising ofthe 20,000.
A few days ago, I wrote about how the House of Representatives threw women under the bus in order to pass the healthcare reform bill. All week the blogosphere has been buzzing with anger and disbelief at the fact that our elected leaders would pass such an unprecidented repeal of abortion coverage, which both prohibits the public option from offering coverage, and provides financial incentives for private insurance companies to drop the coverage they currently offer.