Molly Picon: A Celebrity for the Ages

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Years ago, when I was working on my undergraduate thesis on Yiddish film, I attempted conversation about the subject at cocktail parties (well, at that point they weren’t yet cocktail parties, but there were definitely M&Ms) –

“Yiddish? Film? What? Like Yentl?”

No. Not like Yentl. They’re in Yiddish! And most of them were originally Yiddish theater productions. Molly Picon? ... No?... Nobody?... Nevermind. Is it hot in here? Pass the M&Ms.

The Risk-Takers. The Doers. The Makers of Things.

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Happy first day of the Obama Administration! It was quite special to watch the inaugural festivities yesterday (via web-streaming) with my co-workers at the Jewish Women's Archive. As cherishers and preservers of history, it was very gratifying to experience the making of history and hear an inaugural address which shared the power that history has -- indeed, "our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness."

Comedy, Cultural Memory & Legacy

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In a recent session of my comedy class for Jewish high schoolers, I instructed the students to re-do a scene in the style of the "Tonight Show with Johnny Carson." I might as well have said "gee willakers" and put on my newsies cap.

Who Does She Think She Is?

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This past weekend I saw a documentary film called Who Does She Think She Is?. The film profiles five female artists who are also mothers, as well as several commentators including Tiffany Shlain, creator of The Tribe, and Courtney Martin author of Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters and contributor to Feministing.com.

Thinking of Grace

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With all that's happening in Gaza, and with yesterday's arrests of eight Jewish women who were peacefully protesting outside of the Israeli consulate in Toronto, I can't help but think of Grace Paley.

Arise, Arise: A New Wave of Jewish Women Musicians

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Yesterday I attended a workshop on themes of social justice in Jewish music. I was given a music packet that included songs by Bob Dylan, Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul, and Mary), Pete Seeger, Jeff Klepper, the stud-of-a-Jewish-Rockstar Rick Recht, and E18hteen (the modern Jewish rock band founded by Dan Nichols). "E18hteen" sings that catchy song "Kehilah, Kedoshah" which is all the rage in Reform Jewish camps (I'm not going to lie -- I dig this song despite its cheesiness).

Joan Rivers as Yoda

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I've always had a soft spot for Joan Rivers. Once, as a student at Barnard, (BC '98), Rivers's Alma Mater, I was highlighted by a Barnard publication for my work as a comedian, and was noted to be "the next Joan Rivers." Erroneously, this allowed me to believe that we were secret best friends, and that if ever I was to meet Joan -I would say "Hello, I am the next You; we are best friends, yes?"  Also erroneous is the claim itself - there is no "Next Joan Rivers" - she is irreplaceable  (nor do I come close).

My Bat Mitzvah's Bat Mitzvah

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Sealfons Department Store Displaying Bathing Suits, Blizzard of '96Jordan's Bat Mitzvah, January 6, 1996 Today is the 13th anniversary of my Bat Mitzvah - my Bat Mitzvah’s Bat Mitzvah.

Remembering Helen Suzman

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A lovely May day in 1981. Standing — for the first and only time — in my black PhD robe waiting for the Brandeis Commencement festivities to begin. More ambivalent than excited. Not about my imminent departure from the Ivy Tower but about the speaker and honorary degree recipient, Helen Suzman, who died in Johannesburg yesterday at the age of 91.

Eight Inspiring Stories for Eight Days of Hanukkah

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Happy first day of Hanukkah! With Bernard Madoff bringing a bit of gloom and doom to our nation's holiday season, now is an especially important time for us to be (re)-inspired by those who bring out the best of Jewish life and social responsibility.

To help mark the eight days of Hanukkah, meet eight inspiring Jewish women whose stories are told at jwa.org...

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