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Jewesses with Attitude

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Rising Voices Fellow Gabi Cantor Celebrating Halloween as a Child

I’m Not A Princess Anymore

The world of Jewish women seems to be divided on the J.A.P. issue. Is it a positive term? Or is it a harmful one that reinforces negative stereotypes? In her article, Reclaim the J.A.P. ,for JWA’s blog, Alana Kayfetz argues that while most connotations of J.A.P. are harmful, we as Jewish women should work to redefine the term as follows: a J.A.P. is a  powerful woman who is confident and willing to work hard to get what she wants. 

Books on a Desk

Being a Good Ally, on One Foot

In my job as staff writer for the Jewish Women’s Archive, I write short profiles about historical and living women. Each one is fascinating—and each presents its own challenges. Are there reliable sources I can use, or do I have to sift through puff pieces? If the only information I can find about someone is a résumé, how do I create some sort of throughline that turns those bullet points into a human story? And hardest of all, if each profile is just 200 words, how do I decide what to include and what to cut?

Topics: Writing
Rising Voices Fellow Ariela Basson

An Open Letter to “Good Feminists”

In her November 2013 post for JWA’s blog, Marissa Harrington-Verb wrote about the challenges and critiques her mother faced with regard to her attachment parenting. Many people, including women, would critique Marissa’s mother for her very involved approach to parenting. Ultimately, Marissa argued that feminism is the freedom to make a choice. I could not agree more with Marissa’s point. 

Mechitza

Orthodox Feminism

A lot of people leave Orthodoxy because of the sexism. Honestly, it’s really hard to stay. Being a teenager with friends who are all forming their identities, I struggle with this a lot. Many of my friends are leaving the movement because they are tired of tirelessly fighting, enduring, and never being equal. 

Madeleine Albright and Hillary Clinton

Clash with the Titans

This has been a lousy week for feminists of all ages. The longstanding tensions between second- and third-wave feminists have been boiling over as the old guard claims that younger women mistakenly think feminism is a thing of the past, that we’re distracted by other causes, that we don’t understand the importance of having the first woman president.

Performance of Elizabeth Swados' "Sosua" at the United Nations General Assembly

Dare to Dance Together: 1940, 2011, and Today

Tony nominated playwright Elizabeth Swados raised our consciousness; she opened our eyes and dared us all to dance. Swados gave much to the world: theater, the gift of herself, one who constantly seeks truth and justice, and a strong female leader. Liz Swados also impacted my life in a very personal way- she taught me the meaning of community. 

#1000BlackGirlBooks

This Black History Month, A Call for Diversity in Children’s Books

Much like my current life, my childhood was filled with books. I could never get enough of traveling into different worlds and times, and making friends with fictional characters that at times appeared more real than reality.

Excerpt from the Amidah

Holy Glass Ceiling

On June 13th, 2013, three women graduated from the Yeshivat Maharat and were ordained with the title of maharat, or female spiritual leader. Even then, the Rabbinic Counsel of America (RCA) refused to recognize these women as part of the Orthodox Rabbinate. This is a two steps forward, one step back situation. 

"Children Dancing in a Ring"

Can Jewish Pluralism Be Salvaged?

Every Thursday, the Jewish Standard, a community newspaper catered to the diverse North Jersey and Rockland County Jewish populations, is delivered to my house just in time for Shabbat. When I was younger, I used to look forward to its arrival. I would straighten out the pages and perch on the couch like the adults I saw on television, immersing myself in the cultural happenings of my local Jewish community. 

Malala Yousafzai

Malala's Mission

As a child, I would play “school.” I would pretend to be the teacher, and my siblings and stuffed animals were my students. Although it was a curriculum based on Barbies and Legos, I was attracted early on to sharing my knowledge. It was rewarding to stand in front of the “class,” lecture, and ask questions. 

Wendy Davis

Learning How To Lose

When I think of former Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, the first thing that comes to my mind is her shoes. A fearlessly bright shade of pink, this choice of footwear made headlines across the country when Davis debuted them…at an eleven-hour filibuster to prevent a vote on a bill that would have mandated the closure of most Texas abortion clinics.

Knesset Member Stav Shaffir

Politics, You, and a Cup of Cold Brew

Two great loves that I’ve discovered in high school are politics and coffee. These are two critical elements of who I am today, but one would think they rarely intersect. That’s what I thought too—until Stav Shaffir came along and gave Israeli politics a total caffeine jolt. Stav Shaffir is a young female member of the Israeli Knesset (parliament), a star to be sure. 

Rising Voices Fellow Rana Bickel with the Pope

Pop(e)ular

Religious leaders aren’t normally considered cool by teenagers, but Pope Francis is most definitely an exception. As a teenager myself, I can say that the Catholic Church was not at all on my radar until he started making waves. 

Carly Fiorina/Hillary Clinton Collage

The Fluidity of the Politician

I live in a town where Bernie Sanders merchandise adorns front yards and backpacks, school clubs like the GTSA (Gay-Trans-Straight Alliance) and Students Against Human Trafficking have the largest followings, introducing yourself with pronouns is required, and discussions on issues like the refugee crisis and racial inequality are held in both the classroom and the cafeteria. It’s a liberal bubble in a world with increasingly pervasive conservatism, and while many members of my town are wonderfully open about acceptance of liberal issues, kids at school are ostracized for identifying as Republican. 

A Translation From One Language To Another

Sharing Our Stories

I grew up bilingual. From a young age, my parents, who are not Israeli, spoke to me in Hebrew because they felt it was an important skill to have. My ability to communicate with people outside of the English-speaking world has always felt like an incredible privilege. Although I love being able to find deeper meaning in the things I say through my dual-vocabulary, it’s the ability to share stories with people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to understand them, and the ability to hear theirs, that I find most important. 

Topics: Activism, Writing
Kasia, Katka, Maria, and Tusia in "The Return"

The Return: A Filmmaker Discovers Modern Jewish Poland

How did I end up spending four years traveling across three continents to track the lives of four young Polish women as they explored their newfound Jewish roots?

Because that’s what I do. I’m a documentary filmmaker. I try and get into the lives of people and make sense of their various turns and choices: the stories of how people change over time. It’s a combination of being an anthropologist, journalist and a therapist, all in the service of storytelling. It’s difficult, challenging, maddening—but it’s also the greatest thing in the world.

Angela Merkel

Macchiatos with Merkel

This lady is my German RBG (Ruth Bader Ginsburg), and let’s not even discuss what would happen if I were to bump into RBG at a coffee shop. For anyone who might not know, Merkel is the Chancellor of Germany (2005-present), and is the first woman to hold the position. 

Donald Trump

It's About Time We Dump Trump

Donald Trump isn’t a name thrown around fondly in my social circles. I’d say I live comfortably in a liberal bubble, one which sees Donald Trump as an overblown joke. With the upcoming election, his name has become a household one, and is uttered with callousness and a little bit of fear. As primaries are approaching and poll results are flying in, I’m becoming uneasy about Donald Trump’s viability as a presidential candidate.

Cecile Richards (Cropped)

Care No Matter What

Recently, American women came under attack. And I’m not talking about a dozen women, or even a hundred women. Earlier this year, each and every one of the estimated 160 million women living in the United States of America was threatened by an attack which, had it succeeded, would have set women’s rights back to the early 1900s. 

"True BU" Campaign Image

Marwa Sayed, a Leader in the Community

Marwa Sayed was the first Hijabi I ever met. I was a freshman in high school and she was a junior. A force to be reckoned with, she terrified me. She had strong convictions for equality and justice from which she did not back down. I served on student council with her at Boston University Academy (the high school we both attended) for two years, and during that time she led the charge to abolish the dress code and to establish gender neutral bathrooms. 

Barbie Ferreira

Barbie Revisited

As a teenage girl who has had a consistent, though definitively low key, internet presence since I was 12, I have witnessed the rise and fall of many-a carefully tailored persona. Online venues (Tumblr being the most recent and preeminent, but MySpace before this) provide a space for young people to pick the best bits and pieces of themselves, and to cut and paste them together into some straw man fallacy of a person.

Topics: Feminism
Monica Lewinsky

Monica Lewinsky: From Ruin To Role Model

While we know the most intimate details of the scandal, what most Americans don’t know about (or don’t care about) is the extreme personal harm that Lewinsky endured as a result. 

            

Rising Voices Fellow Gabrielle Cantor in Color Guard (Cropped)

Evolution Revolution

I am a member of the Marching Band and Color Guard at my high school. One challenge that we face as a group year after year is designing our costumes. The easy part is making the design fit with the show’s theme. The harder part is designing something to wear that everyone is happy with. 

Judy Feld Carr

Judy Feld Carr: Rescuing Thousands from Syria

As the news is flooded with reports of refugees fleeing Syria, we have found ourselves remembering a very different Syrian refugee crisis: the mass exodus of persecuted Jews from that country from the 1970s through 2001. I recently spoke with Judy Feld Carr, who arranged 3,228 of those rescues by forging passports, bribing officials, and arranging for individuals and families to be smuggled across the border. What’s amazing about her story is that Judy wasn’t a Special Forces commando or a human rights lawyer; she had no background in this type of work.

Thrift Store Purchases

Feminism: Lab Science Or Liberation?

For the young woman, a thrift store serves as the proverbial laboratory of feminism. The reactants: bits and pieces of people left behind in coat pockets and skirt pleats (the people, hopefully, being solely metaphorical). The product: a newly formed sense of self, or the ability to form said sense of self. 

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Jewish Women's Archive. "Blog." (Viewed on May 27, 2016) <http://jwa.org/blog>.

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