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.

Changing Targets: Technology and Jewish Education

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Earlier this week I listened in on the “Technology and Jewish Education” conference organized by the Lippman Kanfer Institute and Berman Jewish Policy Archive @ NYU Wagner, held at the JESNA offices in New York. I heard many familiar themes: Jewish education is underfunded, and in particular Jewish educators lack both resources and training to take advantage of technology.

Finding a Jewish feminist home

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I walk into what is undoubtedly the most beautiful house on campus. Its simplicity allows for the exuberance of the people within it to shine. The rabbi opens the door, a young father of twins, all smiles and joking about having to convince me to attend the university even though my mind was already made up. I follow my friend Tobah, a Conservative Jew who has yet to skip a week of coming to the multi-denominational Havurah, into the living-room-turned-synagogue. We squeeze onto a couch with a sisterhood of freshmen and sophomores who make up the majority of the Kabbalat Shabbat crowd.

Happy 90th Birthday, Gerda Lerner!

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Lerner, Gerda - still image [media]

"I am a Jewish woman, I am an immigrant, and I will no longer permit others to define me." A Death of One's Own (1978).

Expanding Bat Mitzvah

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Bat Mitzvah 1 - still image [media]

On this day in 1922, Judith Kaplan--daughter of Rabbi Mordechai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism--was called to the Torah in what is known as the first bat mitzvah ceremony in America.

Tefillin Barbie's new career

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Tefillin Barbie

"You know Barbie's getting a new job," says my friend Mimi to me. "People can vote for her new career."

Jews and the Civil Rights Movement: What we’re really talking about

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In 1964, Elaine DeLott Baker left her white working-class Jewish family in Massachusetts and her scholarship at Radcliffe to go to Mississippi, where she spent a year working with SNCC (the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee).

Purim, feminism, and my kids

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What’s not to love about Purim? Another success story for our people: plan to kill us, foiled! Bring on the food!

Happy Birthday, Hebrew School

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Today marks the 172nd anniversary of the First Hebrew Sunday School in the United States, founded in 1838 in Philadelphia.  You can read about it at JWA's This Week in History. It was an audacious undertaking which required the special talents of an unusual woman.

Jews and the Civil Rights Movement: There’s more to it than you might think

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Heather Booth

Today, when most Reform synagogues have a social action committee and when legal segregation is a thing of the past, it may be hard for us to understand how some American Jews could not support and participate in the Civil Rights Movement. Over the last seven months, as I’ve worked on a high school curriculum about Jewish participation in the Civil Rights Movement for the Jewish Women’s Archive, I have been examining this issue and many others that highlight the complexities of Civil Rights history.

Amy in the sky

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Last week we got an unexpected call from a woman named Amy Sheridan, the first American Jewish woman pilot in the U.S. Army.

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