Miriam Cantor-Stone graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 2012 with a Bachelor’s in Religion and Gender Studies. During college, she sang in two choirs and was often found in theatrical productions, in both on and off stage roles. In the recent past, she worked for Lilith Magazine and the Museum Department of Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion Museum in New York. In her spare time, Miriam knits, cooks and bakes with her friends, and contemplates her next adventures.
Lauren Bacall was one of the first female actors who showed audiences that female confidence was incredibly attractive. Her characters didn’t need to be saved by the leading man, they could take care of themselves just fine, thanks. There’s a scene in To Have and Have Not, when the police are interrogating her and Bogart, and one of the officers slaps Bacall across the face. She hardly blinks an eye at the attack, doesn’t falter or faint, and doesn’t need someone else to defend her.
Some readers of Jewesses with Attitude might remember that almost a year ago, I wrote about the documentary film Girl Rising, which at the time was being shown here in Boston as Abby Mohr’s bat mitzvah project. I was frustrated that I couldn’t see the film at the time, so I was thrilled when Tara, JWA’s Director of Engagement and Social Media, posted on our Facebook that the American Jewish World Service (AJWS) would be screening a shortened version of the film. I made it a priority to go to this event—not only to make up for missing it last year, but also to finally see what I’ve been hearing so much about since the making of this film.
Girl Rising tells the stories of girls in developing countries fighting to earn the educations they need and deserve. What’s so powerful about the film is that it is truly a docu-drama. Each story focuses on a young woman who worked with a writer from her country to present her story the way she wanted it told.
Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to catch the final performance of Underground Railway Theater’s Brundibar & But the Giraffe, which was actually two plays separated by an intermission. The first of which, But the Giraffe, by multiple-award-winning playwright Tony Kushner, is about a little girl given a choice; her family is frantically packing up their belongings, and there is very little room left in their suitcase, and she must choose between bringing her beloved toy giraffe or the score of an opera for children, Brundibar.
Last week, JWA led the first online learning program of the year, “Hanukkah: Ignite and Inspire.” We spoke to almost 20 educators from across the country, covering topics from incorporating lessons of Jewish heroines to the challenges of creating a refreshing and relevant Hanukkah curriculum. I was most excited to talk about Judith, a Jewish, Biblical era woman whose story is not included in the Jewish scriptural canon.
This morning, upon my arrival to JWA’s office, I walked over to Jordyn’s office to say good morning.
She greeted me with a question: “I know you’re a nerd… But, are you a gamer?”
Jordyn continued her line of questioning by asking me if I knew anything about the new Grand Theft Auto game that was just released. While I haven’t devotedly played video games in over ten years, I appreciate the world of gaming and have many friends—and two brothers—who certainly identify as gamers.
What is it about being Texan and Jewish that fills me with such pride? I think it’s the unexpectedness of it. I enthusiastically say, “Howdy y’all!” to friends and receive strange stares and sudden cases of the giggles. When I tell people where I’m from they reply, “You don’t sound Texan…or look Texan.” In the same way, people are often told they don’t “look” or “sound” Jewish. What does this even mean? Why are people still bogged down by stereotypes of cowboys and yentas and all other characters associated with Texas and Judaism? Why do I need to prove my Texan-ness or Jewish-ness with how I speak or act or look?
I love my legs. There, I said it! While I don’t have any serious self-esteem problems, I have always had trouble taking compliments and pinpointing the parts of myself I most appreciate. At the same time though, I’m not shy about expressing my opinion and standing up for what I believe is right. Friends who have argued with me about subjects ranging from books to movies to politics will surely agree.
But lately I’ve been noticing that while there are campaigns out there telling me I’m beautiful no matter what, society doesn’t actually allow people to feel that in a truly positive way. I’ve heard one too many stories about friends being hurt (emotionally and physically) by street harassment. I’m sick of people thinking they have the right to shout out whatever they like to others without any thought for their feelings.
When I was 15 years old, I was about to go on vacation with my grandparents and I needed a book. I picked up a collection of three of your plays (The Heidi Chronicles, Uncommon Women and Others, & Isn't It Romantic) that I’d been assigned to read for my ninth grade English class, but never gotten around to studying. I didn’t know anything about you or the plays before opening the book, but I was soon transported to a world of women who didn’t necessarily know exactly what they wanted out of their educations, careers, and relationships, but did know they wanted a great deal. Suffice to say, it greatly appealed to me.
Abby Mohr lives a stone's throw away from Boston, but her take on education is global. Barely even in her teenage years, and she cares deeply about making sure girls all over the world can get an education. “I really like school,” she says. “Boys get to go to school all over the world, and girls should too.” Most teenagers probably do not realize just how lucky they are to be educated, but Abby is not one of them.
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Jewish Women's Archive. " Miriam Cantor-Stone ." (Viewed on August 21, 2014) <http://jwa.org/blog/author/miriam-cantor-stone>.