Today is the 86th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment, which granted American women the right to vote. It took women activists 72 years to win the federal right to vote, and it was a hard battle, filled with many setbacks and contentious disagreements about ideology and strategy.
I’ve never been to Israel. There, I said it. When I was a bratty teen who turned my back on all things religious, it was a point of pride. A badge that said I was too cool for exploring my encumbering heritage. Now it’s a source of embarrassment.
How could I have worked in the Jewish community for three years and not have set foot in the Holy Land? How could I be a 37-year-old woman proud of my Jewish identity and not have experienced the place Jews call home?
When Jane Jacobs died earlier this year, we heard a lot about her urban activism to save neighborhoods from the destruction of a proposed Lower Manhattan Expressway. (We at JWA, by the way, learned as we researched a memorial piece on Jacobs that, contrary to popular belief, she was not Jewish). Friday’s Forward has a great article about a woman named Lillian Edelstein, whose own urban activism preceded Jacobs’.
Tanya is one of my closest friends. We’ve known each other since we were 15, and it’s fair to say that we know each other better than our husbands probably ever will (okay, not in all ways). We have an arsenal of inside jokes, and a language that’s our own.
When Tanya told me last week that she does not consider herself a feminist, I was extremely surprised. Tanya is smart, liberal, independent, and gets totally ticked off when anyone is treated unfairly, especially her woman friends.
It’s the story of an immigrant struggling to survive economically in the big city, a woman running for president, a crusade against pornography and birth control, a decades-long debate on how to achieve political equality for women.
I am a 23 year old Jewish female, born and raised in the U.S. Until this point in my life, I thought I had a fair amount of responsibility—I went off to college hundreds of miles away from home and moved into an equally far away home of my own after graduating to begin a career. Yet, in contrast to my fellow female Israeli counterparts in their 20s, the responsibility on my shoulders pales in comparison.
My daughter Risa is turning two next week. When my mother, a Jewish feminist who went to law school at age 40, asked me to accompany her to a toy store to pick a gift, I agreed. She asked me what Risa enjoyed most these days, and I admitted “dress-up.”
All week I’ve been fascinated by the reports of Catholic women being ordained as priests – 12 women were ordained on a boat outside of Pittsburgh on Monday (these “irregular” ordinations take place on rivers, which are beyond archdiocese jurisdiction), and last week another secretly ordained woman priest “came out” about her ordination and resigned from her position in the Archdiocese of Boston.
As Israel resumes air strikes against Lebanon, after a brief pause of bombing, most of us are left wondering if peace in the Middle East is as possible as catching a unicorn ride to Narnia. And yet, as Israeli novelist A.B. Yehoshua recently put it, “I can be a pessimist for myself, but I have to be optimistic for [my grandchildren]. I have to keep the spirit.”