The Rising Voices Fellows of 2013-2014
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.
We asked our fellows to introduce themselves, and here they are:
Miriasha Borsykowsky is a high school senior in Burlington, Vermont. She is passionate about queer issues, fandoms, feminism, and Harry Potter. Miriasha is a regional leader of Young Judaea and has a book-hoarding problem, but she promises she's going to read all of those books. Someday.
Hannah Elbaum is a junior at Newton South High School. She is an active participant in the North American Federation of Temple Youth-Northeast region, a Diller Teen Fellow in the Boston cohort of 2012-2013, and now a Rising Voices Fellow. She also spends quite a bit of time at Temple Beth Elohim in Wellesley, MA where she is engaged in a variety of leadership roles. In her (lack of) down time, she avidly watches Gilmore Girls, contemplates her next Starbucks purchase, and color coordinates her planner.
Avigayil Halpern is a senior at the Hebrew High School of New England in West Hartford, Connecticut. She is a 2013 Bronfman Youth Fellow, and a member of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA) Teen Leadership Committee. She maintains a personal blog at theprocessofthetaking.blogspot.com. In her spare time, she fangirls over Mary Wollstonecraft and overuses semicolons.
Marissa Harrington-Verb is seventeen years old and a senior in high school. She loves words, foreign languages, and writing. Even though she is rather shy, she truly enjoys performing; she sings and dances and does musical theater, and is a second-year teacher's assistant in a dance class for younger students.
Olivia Link is an 11th grader attending the Boston Arts Academy. At her school, she is a dance major and hopes to take knowledge and experience in her craft to become a physical therapist for dancers. Though 75 percent of Olivia’s time is devoted to dance, she also is an active member of student government, environmental club leader, and a passionate reader/writer.
Eden Marcus is a senior at Needham High School, and is excited to participate in Rising Voices. She is president of Needham’s USY chapter, and is involved in writing programs at her high school.
The Rising Voices Fellowship will officially kick off November 4th with our first blog posting from one of our fellows. In the meantime, we present a small taste of each fellows writing inspired by a few of our favorite quotes and images.
“Well-behaved women seldom make history.”
This quote discourages me. What, it’s not already enough that the very thought of skipping class or smoking marijuana makes me want to vomit? Now I need to worry about making history?
Good behavior and obedience are not the same thing. I don’t want to be obedient. No girl should want to be obedient. All forms of the word – obedience, obedient, obey – connote only one of three things: a dog, a slave, or a citizen of a sci-fi dystopia. So if there were T-shirts, posters, and bumper stickers urging women to be disobedient, I wouldn’t feel so uncomfortable.
- Marissa Harrington-Verb
In politics, there is no room for nice. To me, it is heartbreaking that the fair-players and the do-gooders rarely achieve a goal because some group of corporate monsters is out to squash any movements that oppose their own political agenda. In order to fight the federal machines, you have to scream and scratch to get a point onto their radar, and never take no for an answer. I look at iconic Jewish activists like the notorious Emma Goldman, who successfully attracted media and political attention with her fiery speeches and moving articles. She was fearless of the strict social boundaries when she fought for access to birth control for all women. Goldman was arrested and ridiculed for her loud voice, which only confirmed how threatened the government felt by her anarchist ideas. Without her tough personality and “none-ladylike” attitude, Goldman would never have made American history.
- Olivia Link
"The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians." — 1992 Iowa fundraising letter opposing a state equal-rights amendment by Pat Robertson
The truth is, while feminism has acquired a bad name, that bad name does not exist because some of us are lesbians, some of us are interested in overthrowing the (cis& heterosexist white supremacist patriarchal) capitalist regime, some of us connect with Wicca and some of us get divorce and abortions.
The “bad name” exists because all of us want and deserve to be treated like people, and those benefiting from our suffering do not want to give up their power. But doesn’t that sound a little familiar?
“Women are not making it to the top. A hundred and ninety heads of state; nine are women. Of all the people in parliament in the world, thirteen per cent are women. In the corporate sector, women at the top… tops out at fifteen, sixteen per cent.”-Sheryl Sandberg
This past week, the story reappeared on the front page. President Obama announced that he had appointed the first woman—a Jewish woman might I add—to head the Federal Reserve. While I still agree with Sheryl Sandberg that women are not making it to the top, this shows progress, and progress is something to note.
- Eden Marcus
I did not want to wrap tefillin. Immediately, my brain ran into overdrive; Well, I know I am a feminist, women should be able to read Torah, as I did at my bat mitzvah, and they should have the opportunity to wrap tefillin. Does this mean I am not actually feminist? Am I a bad person (or Jew) if I don’t take my turn” Or even worse if I do?
- Hannah Elbaum
For most of my life, the image of women in tefillin was an odd mix of the familiar and the taboo; as a girl in an Orthodox community, the straps and boxes were deeply familiar to me. I saw my father, and, when I got older, my male friends donned them daily. However, the combination of the black leather I normally saw next to button-downs, ties, and polo shirts instead paired with floral scarves and long, curly hair was almost transgressive in its oddness. Women and tefillin was simply a pairing that didn’t belong, like peanut butter and pickles.
- Avigayil Halpern