Did you know that there's a special prayer for preparing the wicks of Shabbat candles? Neither did I. This past Tuesday, I listened to Dr. Aliza Lavie discuss her book, A Jewish Woman's Prayer Book, a collection of prayers composed by and for women over hundreds of years in all parts of the world.
While many Americans are still relishing in a renewed surge of hope (myself among them), I thought I'd give a shout-out to Emma Lazarus. Her memory became forever associated with her powerful vision of America as a symbol of hope and possibility for the down-trodden. Today marks the 121st anniversary of Emma's untimely death, at the age of 38.
A few years ago, I read Devil in the White City, Erik Larson's non-fiction account of the history of the Chicago World's Fair in 1893, complete with architecture, politics, and a murder mystery. Good stuff. But I didn't realize that the Chicago World's Fair was also the site, 115 years ago this week, of the first Jewish Women's Congress, which was part of the Fair's World Parliament of Religions.
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.
Fifteen years ago this week, Ruth Bader Ginsburg became the second woman - and the first Jewish woman - to serve on the United States Supreme Court. Considering that of the court's 110 justices, 7 have been Jewish and only 2 women, Ginsburg's appointment was no small feat.
The first Olympics I remember well were the 1988 Summer Games, held in Seoul. We were sitting shiva for my grandfather on Long Island. I remember my sister and I lying on our grandparents' bed (my grandmother always had pink satin sheets) and being completely mesmerized by the tiny female gymnasts as they tumbled across the floor. To my knowledge, none of those women were Jewish (Kerri Strug made her debut in 1992, and the Israeli gymnasts who competed in 1988 likely did not make it to American television), but American Jewish women have made a strong impact on the Olympic Games over the past 100-plus years.
It goes without saying that Jewish women have so many accomplishments to be proud of. A quick search through the Jewish Women's Archive's Discover pages reveals women both lauded and nearly forgotten who have made strides in business, medicine, philosophy and the arts. Telling their stories is our mission. And this story is a big one.