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Leah Berkenwald

Leah Berkenwald
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Leah Berkenwald

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

Blog posts

Healthcare, the Wailing Wall, "Dan the Dude," and more

On healthcare:

  • The Senate's compromise on abortion, and the work left to be done. [Daily Kos] [Feministing] [Feministe]
  • The truth about abortion and morality. [Forward]
  • "Needling Worry": Marjorie Ingall discusses our anxiety over vaccinations and other decisions. [Tablet]
  • Are the new recommendations for mammograms patronizing to women? [Feminist Law Professors]

On employment:

  • The Jewish Alliance for Women in Science: a new organization helping Jewish women find mentors and mentees and navigate careers in science and medicine. [JAWScience]
  • The "he-cession" disproportionately hurts unmarried women. [Center for American Progress]

Is the "imposter syndrome" a woman thing?

Have you ever acted confident when deep down you felt unqualified or incompetent -- in short, like an imposter?  Have you ever felt that someday you would be discovered as a fraud?  A blogger for Psychology Today linked this “imposter syndrome” to women, asking “why do so many successful women feel they are frauds?”  It’s an interesting question to be sure, but I can’t help wondering if the “imposter syndrome” is really specific to women, and if there might be a danger in framing it as a women’s issue.

"It's No Joke"

The Center for Reproductive Rights is taking an exciting approach to fighting the Stupak Amendment and the potential loss of abortion coverage it would ultimately bring about.  Cory Kahaney (one of the hosts of Making Trouble) stars in their new ad, "It's No Joke," which will air on MSNBC this week.  Kahaney drives home her point with a quick standup routine about health care that makes it perfectly clear that the threat to abortion access is no joke.  

Taking action against Stupak

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. 

The Forward's 50

Today the Forward posted their list of the 50 Jews who have had the most dramatic impact on the Jewish community over the past year.  These types of lists are somewhat gimmicky, because they are essentially a "supreme New Media trick of writing feature stories that are news events themselves," as Matthue Roth writes at My Jewish Learning.

Taking stock on Veteran's Day

During World War II, more than a half-million Jews served in the American military.  The story of the Jewish American military experience begins there, but World War II also marks the beginning of a second story -- the story of Jewish women in the American military. In honor of Veteran's Day, I have been thinking about this story, its beginnings, and how far we have come since then.

Topics: Military

Uplifting stories to beat the "news blues"

The recent attack on women's health in the Stupak Amendment has got me so angry and frustrated that it's hard to see straight. But, thanks to stories like these and a second cup of coffee, I'm feeling better.  Good things are happening, and I want to share them with you.

  • This story about Rabbi Robin Nafshi, president of Seer Farms, a "people-centered animal sanctuary," left me with a wonderful warm and fuzzy feeling. Seer Farms "takes care of pets for owners who are temporarily unable to keep them, whether due to foreclosure, illness, domestic violence, overseas deployment, eviction or other circumstances," offering compassion to pets and pet owners alike in times of need. [Forward]
  • Girls Write Now, a New York organization led by Maya Nussbaum that matches girls with professional writing mentors, won the 2009 Coming Up Taller Award from the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. On Nov. 4, First Lady Michelle Obama presented the award to Nussbaum and one of her mentees. [Feministing]

The elephant in the room

I was not surprised by the recent headline in the Forward stating “Jewish women lag behind men in promotion and pay.” Nu? What else is new?  The article reports that women make up about 75% of Jewish organizations, but only hold 14.3% of the top positions, and they only earn 61 cents for every dollar earned by a man. It is unfortunate but reasonable to expect a gendered pay gap to exist in the Jewish, non-profit community since one exists consistently throughout the nation.  However, I was shocked to learn that women working in Jewish non-profits experience a pay gap wider than the national average! According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, women in full-time positions earn an average of 77 cents to every dollar earned by a man, nationwide -- 16 cents more than the average for women in Jewish organizations.

Sold out in the name of healthcare reform

Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed the Healthcare Reform bill only after Democrats caved on abortion, allowing the Stupak Amendment to be added in order to move the bill along.  The Stupak Amendment prohibits any public option to offer abortion coverage, and also prevents private insurers from covering abortion by limiting federal affordability credits to plans that do not cover abortion.  For those of us who desire a truly comprehensive healthcare reform act that values women's healthcare needs, this "victory" was hard to swallow.

"Girls in Trouble": Indie rock as midrash

I tend to be wary of educational musical acts, especially those that sound like they were written by teachers trying to be "cool."  But after a quick listen, it is obvious that "Girls in Trouble" is far, far more than a simple "101" on biblical women. 

Pages

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. " Leah Berkenwald ." (Viewed on July 29, 2014) <http://jwa.org/blog/author/leah-berkenwald>.

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