Today is the first Tuesday in November, which means that for those of us freezing our toes off up north, it's finally time to turn on the heat! It also means it is Election Day, and since we're not electing a President this year, we have the luxury to relax and reflect on the trailblazing Jewish women in politics who have made history on this historic day.
Yesterday, Oct. 28, 2009, heralded a historic moment for human rights as President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act into law. This act expands the already existing hate crime protection to include crimes based on one's sexual orientation, gender, disability, or gender identity, and also allows federal authorities to support local investigations, as well as step in when local authorities unable or unwilling to investigate. For the first time in our nation's history, GLBT people and people with disabilities have the legal right to safety from hate violence.
Our friends at the National Museum of American Jewish History have recently announced a new project for which they are seeking public input. Their new museum, scheduled to open in November 2010, will include a gallery called "Only in America," that will -- in their words -- "examine the choices, challenges, and opportunities faced by a remarkable group of a token 18 American Jews on their paths to accomplishment."
My earlier post on Sotomayor sparked some interesting conversation among my friends on Facebook that I thought worth bringing back to the blog. Most of it -- unsurprisingly, considering my demographic (thirtysomething mothers of young kids) -- was about motherhood.
I promise I'm not turning this blog into all Bella Abzug, all the time, but I think this election day deserves a kick-ass quote to set the tone. Bella described her occupation as "figuring out how to beat the machine and knock the crap out of the political power structure." She wasn't one to mince words. I love that about her.
Judith Warner's New York Times op-ed piece caught my eye with its opening quote from Bella Abzug, one of my heroes: "Our struggle today is not to have a female Einstein get appointed as an assistant professor. It is for a woman schlemiel to get as quickly promoted as a male schlemiel." Warner's piece was, as you might guess, about Sarah Palin. (I won't say more about her for fear of threatening our 501(c)3 status.)
Thirty-eight years ago today, thousands of women nation-wide responded to Jewish feminist Betty Friedan's call for a Women's Strike for Equality. In addition to a huge march down New York's 5th Avenue, women around the country demonstrated in support of three main goals: free abortion on demand, free 24-hour community-controlled child care centers, and equal opportunity in jobs and education.
Today is the tenth anniversary of the death of Bella Abzug, activist extraordinaire. With her big hats and even bigger charismatic personality, her sharp mind and even sharper tongue, Bella took on the world and changed it. As a young girl, she spoke on street corners for Hashomer Hatzair, the socialist Zionist youth movement. As a young lawyer in the 1950s, she took on civil rights causes in the atmosphere of McCarthyism. As a mother and activist, she fought for a nuclear-free world with Women Strike for Peace.