In 1968, the Pittsburgh chapter of the National Council for Jewish Women embarked on an oral history project to record the experiences of Jewish Eastern European immigrants, who came to the U.S. between 1890 and 1924. In 1973, the project was expanded to collect the stories of Pittsburgh Jewish men and women who made contributions on local, national, and international levels. Today, this project is the longest running and largest oral Jewish history project known to exist in the world. Now the 500 plus interviews have been digitized and made accessible to the world, creating a "treasure trove" of primary source materials.
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Leah Berkenwald was born and raised in Northampton, MA, where "The coffee is strong, and so are the women." As such, she was a feminist and equal rights activist straight out of the womb. She is particularly passionate about reproductive rights and sex education, despite her father's wish that she do something less controversial like "save the whales." Leah draws strength from the memories of her grandmothers - two incredible Jewesses with some serious attitude. After three years as JWA's Social Media Specialist, Leah moved on to Wentworth Institute, where she coordinates Wellness Education. You can read her blog at www.leahbee.net
It has been a really interesting week in the world of Jewish women. Take a look at these important stories!
If you follow JWA on Twitter or Facebook, it should be pretty obvious that we think Making Trouble, the film about six trailblazing Jewish women entertainers, makes a great Hanukkah present for the whole family. Normally, the idea of pushing a "product" makes me queasy. Afterall, I chose to work for a non-profit, not an advertising firm! So I feel that I owe the JWA audience a real and honest explanation for why I think Making Trouble is something you should own.
Jewish women are hot right now. According to an article in the men’s magazine Details, “Jewish women have become the ethnic fetish du jour.” And in true men’s magazine fashion, Christopher Noxon revels in the opportunity to eroticize and exoticize Jewish women; using dehumanizing terms like “cultural mutt” and “JILF,” meaning “Jew I’d like to…” -- you get the idea.
This article does little more than call attention to the misogynistic trend it then goes on to abuse for shock value, and Irin Carmon does a great job of breaking it down at Jezebel. Yet the use of the word “Jewess” in the article was particularly troubling for me, as a Jewesses with Attitude blogger. Given the continued derogatory use of the word “Jewess,” can the term ever really be reclaimed? And how do Jewish women feel about being the object of a sexual fetish?
December 1 is World AIDS Day, established in 1988 by the World Health Organization to raise awareness and focus attention on the global AIDS epidemic. World AIDS Day reminds us that for many across the globe, the spread of HIV/AIDS is a very real, very present, part of every day life, and millions are suffering.The global AIDS epidemic can be difficult for some Americans to accept or understand.
I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday weekend. I certainly did, which is why I missed so many great posts and articles over the weekend. Here is a Thanksgiving weekend link roundup, just in case you missed them too.
Friday is StoryCorps' National Day of Listening. Since you can order your Making Trouble DVDs conveniently online at www.makingtrouble.com, there is no need to go shopping on Black Friday. Instead, join Storycorps and sit down with a loved one and record their story. Ellen wrote about the National Day of Listening last year, and explained why the tradition of listening is so important to Jews, especially in the context of Thanksgiving, a holiday important to many Americans with immigration histories.
Things are wrapping up as we prepare for the holiday. But in the midst of the chaos of the end of the year mailing, Nora found time to share what she is grateful for this year.
The New York Times recently identified androgyny as the "it" fashion trend. It seemed to begin with "skinny jeans" -- skin-tight pants quickly adopted by fashion-forward men and women. Unisex hoodies, coats, footwear, t-shirts, and hairstyles were soon to follow. While women dressing in masculine clothing is old hat (the tomboy), the idea of heterosexual men dressing in feminine clothing is new, edgy, and raising eyebrows as well as questions about traditional gender norms.
Today is the 11th annual International Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day to mourn those who were killed by hatred, bigotry, and ignorance. Many of these deaths went unreported in the media, or if they were covered, the victims were reduced to attention-grabbing headlines and dehumanizing terms. You can read the names of the 162 trans people murdered between November 20, 2008 and November 12, 2009 here, and these are only the people we know about.