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
October is host to Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Love Your Body Day (Oct. 21st), and now Fat Talk Free Week. Beginning Oct. 19th, Fat Talk Free Week challenges us to stop "Fat Talk", defined as "all of the statements made in everyday conversation that reinforce the thin ideal and contribute to women's dissatisfaction with their bodies.
- Jewish Women International releases its "10 Women to Watch in 5770" list. Mazel Tov! [JWI]
On the Arts:
- The Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco will host “As It Is Written: Project 304,805,” a public performance in which 34-year-old scribe Julie Seltzer will spend a year calligraphing a Torah scroll in one of the museum’s galleries. [Tablet]
- New York, I Love You opens this Friday, starring Natalie Portman as an ultra-Orthodox woman. Tablet looks over the history of Hasidic characters in film. [Tablet]
- Regina Spektor condemns Holocaust deniers in her song, "Ink Stains." [MyJewishLearning]
This weekend I went to the Central Square Theater to see Cravings: Songs of Hunger and Satisfaction, a cabaret set in a Jewish kitchen that explores themes of hunger, success, acceptance, nourishment, fame, and sex. Cravings, starring cabaret artist Belle Linda Halpern, accompanied by Ron Roy, and directed by Sabrina Hamilton, was originally created to close the Ko Festival's 2008 series, themed on food.
As I entered the theater I was surprised to find myself in a Jewish kitchen. The only thing out of place was the piano. Belle Linda Halpern made charoset, and kibbitzed with us in between songs. She even called on Ron to help peel apples. As a Jewish woman, I found everything in this show relatable. (Except, where did they find such a quiet food processor!?) But what struck me most of all was the connection Halpern draws between the Jewish craving for food and the craving for success and achievement.
"Boobs, boobies, titties, and ta-tas." These are not the words of a giggling 6 year-old, but the words of the nationwide Breast Cancer awareness campaign. They are illustrated by the t-shirt to the right, and a variety of other oh-so-tasteful designs. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and this year, campaigns have ditched the emotional appeals to save the lives of the women in your life in favor of misogynistic slogans like, "Save the titties!" and "Save Second Base!"
As the 2009 Nobel prizes are being handed out, many are fussing over Obama's Peace Prize -- does he deserve it, will this affect his approach with Iran, etc. Important questions, certainly, but don't let them distract you from the real story this year: 2009 is a record year for women Nobel Prize-winners!
Only 40 women have ever won the prestigious Nobel Prize, 5 of whom were awarded the prize this year, one of whom is Israeli Jewess Ada Yonath, winner of the Chemistry Prize.
Earlier this week, Family Guy aired an episode called "Family Goy" in which Lois (the mother) discovers her Jewish roots. As a self-proclaimed pop culture critic I feel like I should say something about this but honestly, what's to say? It's getting a lot of attention, as you might expect when a show known for offensive humor takes on the Jews. But the reality is that this is nothing new. If anything, it confirms the fact that Jewiness has gone mainstream.
On November 6th, the Museum of Jewish Heritage will open the Keeping History Center, providing an interactive experience for New York visitors that allows them to record and add their own stories to the historical record. This project is near and dear to us at the Jewish Women's Archive, since we have worked since our start 13 years ago to record the untold and unheard stories of American Jewish women -- stories like the one shared in this podcast.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. " Leah Berkenwald ." (Viewed on September 23, 2014) <http://jwa.org/blog/author/leah-berkenwald>.