In our current political climate, the First Amendment can sometimes become a catchphrase for those looking for the license to say hateful things under the guise of patriotism. This shallow understanding of the First Amendment excludes the deeper truth behind the freedom of speech: everyone has a right to information, free of censorship or agenda.
Women Wage Peace declares: We refuse to live indefinitely by the sword. We vow that we will not be silent, that we will raise our voices above the sounds of weapons and sirens. Violence only breeds more violence and further radicalization, with suffering and insecurity for all sides.
As my first assignment at JWA, I am tackling the legendary but polarizing Rosh Hashanah dessert: Honey Cake. An informal poll of every Jewish person I spoke to over the course of a week told me that no one likes it. The strongest emotion I’ve felt about honey cake has been a luke-warm “well, sure.” However, for my inaugural blog post, I was determined to create a recipe that incorporated some of the flavors and ingredients of honey cake.
The 8th International Bet Debora Conference of European Jewish Women, Activists, Academics and Rabbis was not for women like me: those of us born and raised in the US, people whose bat mitzvahs were a given, who grew up with live grandparents and a great-grandmother, who do not have generational gaps on their family tree because of the Shoah. In short, women who haven’t had to fight for their Judaism.
In 2003, when the new head of obstetrics at the University of Chicago decided to close the nurse midwife practice, he said it was due to cost. For me and many other past and present patients...it also felt like yet another attack on women and our access to quality reproductive health. It seemed to communicate that women's comfort, and the personal services midwives provided, weren’t valued as a meaningful aspect of obstetrics.
Yesterday News-PressNow.com published an article by columnist Dave Hon titled, “Why I’ll never date a feminist.” In it Hon argues that feminists hate men, that he doesn’t believe there’s a wage gap or a culture of rape on college campuses, and that “People who are more loyal to their gender and not their significant other don’t make good partners.” Now, Dave, I’m about to tear your article apart.
Historically, August is a wonderful month to be a Jewish woman in the political sphere: Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined the Supreme Court on August 10, 1993, and Elena Kagan also donned the austere black robes on August 5, 2010. In 1971, August 26 was named Women’s Equality Day, thanks to the tireless work of Bella Abzug and other Jewish feminists.
Television’s new Jewish American comedy scene, however, is being taken over by badly-behaved Jewish women like Bloom’s Rebecca, Lena Dunham’s Hannah, and Broad City’s Abbi and Ilana. These are women who take their Zoloft with mimosas and wreak havoc at their workplaces.
When one exists in opposition to the status quo because of her ethnicity, it feels more natural to also begin to question the significance of gender and other means of social stratification. I am not an average Jew or an average Indian. Why would I try to be an “average” woman, to conform to archaic rules and norms that have nothing to do with me?
The year was 2008, and I was eight years old.
Politics was a grown-up term that I didn’t know much about, other than a few names: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John McCain. Although the real meaning of the election was lost on me, my parents encouraged my brother and me to formulate opinions about the world. However, there was something standing in my way of deciding who to cheer on.
Maybe politicians sacrifice authenticity for popularity, and prophets sacrifice efficacy for moral purity. Maybe politicians choose their paychecks over their values and prophets choose radicalness over relatability. Maybe politicians are too quick to resort to “business as usual.” Maybe prophets are too quick to isolate themselves.
The camp's philosophy regarding Jewish religious observance is both rigorous– campers are expected to observe the laws of kashrut and Shabbat– and egalitarian...Encouraging girls and women to wrap tefillin at places like Camp Ramah seems long overdue.
Recently, the Pew Research Center has found that in 2013, 47% of adults, ages 40-59, had both a parent who was sixty-five or older and children they were still financially supporting. This group, called the “Sandwich Generation,” will only grow larger as people live longer and have children later. The responsibility of taking care of elderly parents often falls on daughters who are also mothers and professionals.
On July 28, I watched, with tears in my eyes, as former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton became the first woman to be nominated as a presidential candidate by a major political party. Whatever your politics—this is not a political post—it was incredible to watch another glass ceiling shatter and heartwarming to imagine what this moment will mean for all of the young girls, staying up late to hear Clinton’s speech.
This summer, paranormal activity gets a new set of adversaries as four awkward and highly intelligent women come together to prove not only that ghosts are real, but that women are capable of rebooting a previously all-male franchise.
A few weeks ago, I found myself eyeing a pair of socks decorated with typewriters. I used to love stuff like this, I thought, Why don’t I wear crazy socks anymore?
Oh yeah, I remembered, I’m a rabbi now.
But as I prepared to place the socks back on the rack, I wondered, Why can’t a rabbi wear crazy socks? More importantly, Why can’t I, as a rabbi, wear crazy socks?
Although I never met him in person, I felt Elie Wiesel was the voice of my own suffering and sorrow; I, too, had fled a repressive regime, leaving home and family behind. I saw in him the possibility of taking my misery and translating it into a hopeful future where humanity could work together and embrace the common good.
After last week’s murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by police officers, America’s cities erupted in protest. A tragic and incendiary week became even more violent when a gunman opened fire on a Dallas protest, murdering five police officers. The resulting media frenzy was, overall, disheartening.
When my allies speak up, their voices can reach people who don’t want to listen to me, but who are willing to listen to someone more like themselves. And more than that, when my allies speak out, they make it clear that my issues matter to them, that I matter to them. I want to pass that on.
I don’t think I fully understood the importance of my mother's words at the time. But looking back, this lesson, and being raised in a household that constantly preached passion and hard work over vanity, are some of the things that have shaped me most into who I am today.
I wouldn’t really say I write for change. In theory, yes, that’s a wonderful idea: the idea that everything can be changed through the power of the pen (or should I say keyboard), but I honestly don’t believe that’s true in my case. Would I love if my blog posts really inspired people and made them want to change the world around them? Yes! But I know that’s probably not the case. In fact, I think it would be a little naïve rather than ambitious of me to think that.
While some Jews may struggle to see the connection between their modern, fast-paced lives and traditional Jewish practices, Kohenet Sarah Shamirah Bechirah sees such links as natural. As a Hebrew Priestess and Jewish Meditation teacher, she puts treasured rituals in a fresh context.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Blog." (Viewed on September 29, 2016) <http://jwa.org/blog>.