Education

This August we are raising an apple to our educators. As the back-to-school sales reach a crescendo (but before we start dipping our apples in honey for Rosh Hashanah), we are focusing on the experience of Jewish education. Education has always been a cornerstone of Jewish culture and religion, although girls and women had to fight to get the same opportunities as their brothers.

Women were actively involved in education from the first years of Jewish life in America. Over 350 years later, teachers continue to inspire students in day and supplementary schools, in pre-b'nai mitzvah and confirmation classes, in seminaries and yeshivas. During August, we are calling on educators to share their lesson plans, their surprising stories, their triumphs, and, yes, their failures. We will learn along side of them as we reflect on what it means to be the people of the book.

Esther Broner: A Weave of Women

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Esther Broner, or E.M. as she was known, was a Jewish feminist, prolific author, professor, and pioneer of the feminist  movement. Known for re-imagining traditional Jewish customs and rituals, she co-wrote The Women’s Haggadah, which encouraged women to devise their own version of traditional rituals.

Guess What's Being Taught in my Sunday School Class?

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Chalkboard of Jessica Kirzane Photo

A few weeks ago, on the Sunday before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I posed a question to the students in my class on "Jews and the Civil Rights Movement": "If you could plan a Jewish commemoration for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, what would it be? Who would be the audience? What would you do? Why should Jews, as Jews and in Jewish communities, commemorate this holiday?"

How I Came to My Table

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Table and chairs photo

I was seated at one of those grand, heavy, deep brown mahogany tables in a beautiful room with two walls of windows. To my left, sat my mother, visiting for a few days from Los Angeles. Then to my right, and all the way around the table sat 10 classmates and my professor. We were talking about my favorite topic: How do you do good?

“Thinking Inside the Box”: Framing My Grandmother’s Life

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Adina and her Grandmother

I had never taken the time to learn much about my grandmother, Esther Rebeca Leibowich de Bortz’s past. While I knew that something in her history must have gone right—she became a renowned gynecologist in Argentina—large gaps existed between each of the detailed but disconnected anecdotes that she recounted to me over the years.

My grandmother—or Bobe as I call her—and I have never lived in the same country. She was born in Argentina and has lived there for her entire life, while I was born in Chile and have lived in Atlanta for most of mine. With each of her visits, I learn more about this woman I have always been taught to revere, but in truth never knew much about. Consequently, I welcomed the opportunity to take the course, “Jewish Women in Modern America,” at The Weber School in Atlanta, where I am a junior.

Different Shades of Daring

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segregation_protest

Just the other day I took part in a big rite of passage for many suburban teens and braved a very imposing vacant parking lot to tackle one of my larger anxieties: manning an automotive vehicle. I clearly failed when it came to predicting the required amount of tenacity needed to control that metal monster, but like most teenagers that golden fantasy of independently cruising down the road in a glorious car overrode the shaming jerks, scratches, and damaged vegetation. I cannot deny that driving is scary; with just one misplaced press of a pedal I could jeopardize the safety of many people (and my parent’s car). But in the end, my rallied courage was worth it—now I can confidently drive without my eyes glued to the gearshift!

Though my anecdote is whimsical, the theme of persistence is relevant to next week’s MLK day.

The Rising Voices Fellows of 2013-2014

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Rising Voices Fellows 2013-14

The Jewish Women’s Archive and Prozdor are thrilled to announce our inaugural Rising Voices Fellowship class. The fellowship, which is open to female-identified teens in grades 11 and 12, was awarded to 6 young women with a demonstrated passion for writing, a concern for current events, and a strong interest in Judaism—particularly as it relates to issues of gender and equality.

Staking Claim: What I Learned From All This Jabber about the Pew study

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A few months after I started working at the Jewish Women’s Archive, I was taking the last bus home from a raucous karaoke night on the other side of town. Being from the Midwest originally (read: overly friendly), it was only natural that I strike up a conversation with the bus driver. As our conversation roamed from the weather to current labor issues in the MBTA, I shared a story with him about Rose Schneiderman, a Jewish woman labor activist who had I had been researching for a work-related project. The conversation was so lively I missed my stop and had to walk four extra blocks home.

When I think about that night, I remember the pride that I felt about sharing part of Jewish history with this guy, and how grateful I was that my Jewish identity was giving me a lens through which to connect with others (even non-Jews!) and understand complicated issues in my community.

50 Years On: 5 Things I Learned About the March on Washington

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The Emma Lazarus Federation of Jewish Women's Clubs

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the March tomorrow, I would like to share 5 things I have learned about the March on Washington that you may not already know—one for each decade. I hope you’ll take this opportunity to check your assumptions and look more closely at this monumental, game-changing event.

Dayenu. Dayenu. Dayenu.

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Image of Heather Booth and Fannie Lou Hamer

This past year, I took a group of seven teens on a tour of the American South. The trip was inspired by my desire to infuse young people with a sense of history and context as it relates to Judaism in the South and Jews in the Civil Rights Movement.

We began in Atlanta, then drove to Alabama, stopping in Birmingham, Montgomery, Selma, and many places in between. We met with people who had lived through segregation and fought against it. We saw the Rosa Parks Museum, experienced history, and talked about what it means to be an American Jew from the Northeast.

Summer & the Educator

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Summer on Plumb Island

Somehow summer has flown by—it’s August 19, which pretty much came out of nowhere. If you're anything like me, summer started with grand plans and lofty ambitions. The pages in the calendar stretched on and on, and great adventures were planned for sometime later this summer. And, somehow… summer is coming to a screeching, halting stop.

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