Last week, Newsweek ran an article titled From Barricades to Blogs, asking about the state of feminism in the 21st century. The article treads familiar (to my mind, tired) ground, questioning whether young women are taking up the torch of feminism, or whether they (we) are letting the flame die.
I just returned from the Jewish Outreach Institute’s annual conference called Opening the Tent: Visions and Practices for a More Inclusive Jewish Community. It was an interesting conference that explored practices for welcoming interfaith families, non-Jewish partners of Jews, Jews-by-Choice, and, generally speaking, all whom are “unaffiliated”—including Jews perceived to be “on the margins” (i.e. Jews of Color and GLBT-identified Jews)—into the established community.
The 2007 Nobel Prize laureates in Physics were announced this week—Albert Fert from France and Peter Gruenberg from Germany, both credited for the first successful applications of “nanotechnology” to radically reduce the size while radically increasing the storage of computer hard-drives. With their impressive credentials, Fert and Gruenberg seem to fit the mold for this award in a profession in which male + Ph.D is a likely pairing. But following the announcement, I was pleasantly reminded of chemist Gertrude Elion, a 1988 Nobel Prize recipient, who most certainly did not fit this mold, and who didn’t think much of it: “Women in chemistry and physics? There’s nothing strange about that.”
With the exception of Yom Kippur, the past few weeks, for many of us in the Jewish community, have been bountifully full of food. I’ve been happily partaking in pumpkin bread/pumpkin muffin production (baking three loaves, and two tins of twelve muffins over the course of two days) and enjoying my friends’ seasonal culinary creations on a chilly evening in their sukkah.
Sukkot is my favorite Jewish holiday. I like a good harvest bounty; I like that I can share meals with friends not in my kitchen; I like that I can eat while meditating on stars peeking through a canopy of colorful paper chains, laquered gourds, and chili pepper lights (which always adorned my family’s sukkah). In preparation for Sukkot (just a few hours away!), I've been thinking about other, more provocative, sukkah decor that might be inside the sukkot in which I eat.
It’s a thrill for me to see artist Joan Snyder listed among this year’s recipients of MacArthur fellowships, the “genius grants” that honor and advance the work of exceptionally creative thinkers and doers. Joan Snyder greets me each morning as I begin work. A copy of her print, “Our Foremothers,” occupies the wall opposite my desk. A collage of names of all the women in the Bible as well as women in her own family, the print is a visual metaphor for our work at the Jewish Women’s Archive.
I’ve never met Lorraine Rothman, a women’s health activist and inventor of the Del’Em menstrual extraction kit. But I came to know her work through my dissertation research, and so I was deeply saddened to hear that she is dying.
With the flowering of autumn Jewish holidays consuming our attention, it’s unlikely that many of us have tuned into September as National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. I wasn’t aware of it either until I listened to NPR yesterday for the first time in several days. Ovarian cancer—often called the “silent killer”—seems to garner less attention than breast cancer whose awareness month is assigned to October, awash with pink ribbons, walks, fundraisers, and other benefits.
As we prepare to herald the new year and celebrate the creation of the world, I thought I’d call your attention to JWA’s new edition of our educational resource, Go & Learn. This edition focuses on the midrashic figure of Lilith -- the first woman, imagined by the rabbis as a demon -- and Judith Plaskow’s early feminist reclaiming of her as a woman who demanded equality.
Two years ago today, Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, causing a massive dislocation of residents of all races and socio-economic levels. It also devastated a Jewish community that had been nearly 250 years in the making.