History

The Album as Archive, the Photograph as Story

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On Sunday afternoon, twelve women sat around a table at the sunny education center of Mayyim Hayyim, in Newton, Mass. Each of us clutched -- gently, lovingly -- a few old photos, sepia-toned, worn at the edges. These photos held pieces of our history, and as many questions as answers.

You can tell their story

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Celebrate the National Day of Listening

Friday is StoryCorps' National Day of Listening. Since you can order your Making Trouble DVDs conveniently online at www.makingtrouble.com, there is no need to go shopping on Black Friday.  Instead, join Storycorps and sit down with a loved one and record their story.  Ellen wrote about the National Day of Listening last year, and explained why the tradition of listening is so important to Jews, especially in the context of Thanksgiving, a holiday important to many Americans with immigration histories.

Taking stock on Veteran's Day

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During World War II, more than a half-million Jews served in the American military.  The story of the Jewish American military experience begins there, but World War II also marks the beginning of a second story -- the story of Jewish women in the American military. In honor of Veteran's Day, I have been thinking about this story, its beginnings, and how far we have come since then.

To Life! Celebrating Vermont's Jewish women

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Ann Zinn Buffum came to JWA through “midnight web searches” for family history.  She was surprised to discover that Madeleine May Kunin, the first woman Governor of Vermont, was the only Vermonter to be featured on jwa.org.  “Surely there were other women in our state, small as it is, who had interesting and accomplished lives,” she writes in To Life!, the book that accompanies the gallery exhibit. With her mission in mind, she enlisted Sandra Stillman Gartner, a writer, actor, and active member of the Rutland Jewish Center community, to create DAVAR: The Jewish Women’s History Project.

The collective "shoebox": JWA joins Flickr Commons

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16th General Hospital Nurses, Jan 1944

Last week JWA became the 29th organization to join Flickr Commons, a project to increase access to public photo collections and to provide a way for the general public to contribute information and knowledge to the historical record.

Why the Anne Frank video is so unsettling

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I logged onto the computer last weekend to see that Anne Frank was a trending topic on Twitter. That was largely thanks to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, which released (as the Bintel Blog reported) a new video, showing the only known footage of Anne, leaning out of a window and watching a married couple. It immediately became a hit on YouTube. Seeing such a timelessly tragic figure from another time on such definitively contemporary context — Web 2.0 — had an odd feeling to it. And then of course, Anne got caught in the middle of a bizarre dust-up between David Mamet and the Disney Studio. (Mamet’s re-imagining of the diary onscreen involved a contemporary girl going to Israel to learn about the trauma of suicide bombings) and she is the subject of a new book by Francine Prose.

Finding a deeper connection to 9/11

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Remembering 9/11I have always had trouble feeling connected to 9/11. Like every other American, I remember where I was and what I was doing when I found out about the attack (high school band class), but the wave of nationalism following 9/11 affected me more than the actual event, and my memories reflect that distinction. I did not know anyone that was killed, lost a loved one, or helped in the rescue or cleanup efforts, and every year I struggle to find a personal connection to that day.  This year Rabbi Irwin Kula's haunting recording of 9/11 voicemails set to Eicha trope gave me that connection, and left me holding back tears in my office.

"Still Lives" and the women of the 23 Souls

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In early September of 1654, 355 years ago today, a group of Brazilian Jews described in the public records as "23 souls, big as well as little," arrived on the docks of the new world Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, now known as New York.  These were not the first Jews to reach North America, but the group is significant because it was mostly women and children, signaling the beginning of the first Jewish community in the New World.

Reflections on Stonewall

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The wee hours of June 28, 1969, began with a routine enough event: a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a Greenwich Village gay bar owned by the mafia (as nearly all gay bars were at the time, since bars that catered to homosexuals were usually denied a liquor license, and only mob-owned bars could afford to pay off the police so that they could operate without a license). The cops entered with their usual intentions: to check id cards and arrest those found to be cross-dressing. 

Remembering Janet Jagan, President of Guyana

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You might have read in the New York Times or in the Boston Globe that Janet Jagan, the first woman elected president of Guyana, died at age 88 this past weekend.

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