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Peggy strut

Feminism, finally

This week’s episode finally brought the moment I’ve been waiting for: when the women’s movement makes its arrival on the scene, if only in passing mention. I practically stood up and cheered when Joan sat, calm but radiating power, on Jim Hobart’s couch and challenged him with the mention of Betty Friedan, the EEOC, and the sit-ins at the Ladies’ Home Journal. It seemed that now, after years of struggling on her own, she had a team of women to back her up.

Rosie the Riveter

A Valorous Woman

We’ve all seen—and heard of—the impossible standards to which women are held: be skinny, beautiful, athletic, and put together, but also be “natural” and be “yourself.” Don’t change yourself for a man, but don’t scare him off by being too honest or “real” from the get-go either. Be smart and informed, but don’t let your intelligence outshine his, or else his masculinity might be threatened. Be a perfect mother and wife, but make sure you’re also highly accomplished at work.

Jean Nidetch before and after

Jean Nidetch, Diet Queen

Every woman in my family has been on a diet for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories are of family parties: everyone surrounded by lovingly prepared dishes, saying “oh god, I shouldn’t eat this” and “I’m not eating carbs right now” as they piled their plates with lasagna and bread. That was the deal: diets weren’t really adhered to, but they were talked about incessantly.

Rosenstrasse Monument

The Women of Rosenstrasse

After moving from Tel Aviv to Berlin about five years ago, I started noticing that the sheer number of commemorative objects scattered around the city is quite astounding. Berlin has seen more radical changes in the last 150 years then most cities have in the last 1,000. From the Prussians to the German Kaiser, from the Weimar republic to Nazi times and subsequently division and reunification, it is a city of many identities.

Topics: World War II
Censored Book

Recording History, Warts and All

So, when prompted with the question, “Which piece of culture would you like history to forget?” I truly couldn’t think of anything. To willingly want to erase a historical cultural record really shows no regard for history at all. The culture we create is a reflection of our values during that period. Books, movies, TV, music, are the most compelling historical records we have of the mood of a society, and this includes the ugly parts. 

Topics: History
Mad Men Time and Life

Mad Men TV Club: Work Life Balance

The struggle between career and family is one that women have wrestled with for decades, and there seem to be no easy solutions on the horizon. Work vs. home. “Office wives” and romantic partners. Kids or promotions. The battles rage on, illuminated by think pieces and parsed by university studies, but the essential question of what is most worthwhile and meaningful in life remains unanswered.

Topics: Television
Mad Men Don and Sally

Mad Men TV Club: Women of the Future

I’m sure no one will be surprised to hear that my love of Mad Men stems from its focus on the gender politics of the 1960s. (When the first episode aired, I remember watching with my husband and exclaiming, “It’s like my graduate studies come to life!”). So while I found this episode frustrating in many ways (why has Glen Bishop returned and what was that scene with Betty in the kitchen??), it was at least somewhat satisfying to see women’s growing confidence and opportunity emerge from an otherwise depressing storyline.

Bitch Magazine

Bitch, reclaimed?

Sometimes, my shame overwhelms me mid-phrase, and I am only able to get half-way through the final word: “What a bi…” before I chastise myself thoroughly. “Stop it. You are a feminist now, Eliza. You are supposed to be better than this.”

Adam Levine

Just Like Animals

We need to pay strict attention to what messages we get from the media and how those messages perpetuate violence and misogyny. Violent and offensive lyrics, such as those in “Animals,” glorify and romanticize sexualized violence, causing distorted views on healthy relationships. Objectification and violence toward women can too easily become mainstream when popular celebrities endorse this behavior.

Rita Lakin-"Only Woman In The Room" Book Cover

The Only (Jewish) Woman in the Room

I was Jewish and a woman and had no idea that neither was welcomed or acknowledged in the world of television writing in the 1960s. Not that such topics were on my mind when I was forced by sad happenstance to become widowed at the age of 31 and left to support my three young children. I had to get a job.

Topics: Television
Mad Men Pima and Peggy

Mad Men TV Club: Feminism is a Frilly Pink Dress

UGH. I enjoyed only one scene in this episode, and it was Don’s visit to the Francis household. Betty looked glorious in her ultra-feminine housewife drag, and I appreciated the moment when Don looked back at Betty, Henry, and his two sons, clearly farklempt about the nuclear family he could have had.

Topics: Television
The Dress

A Subjective Obsession

In Meditations on First Philosophy, René Descartes argues that the main foundation of knowledge is one’s own mind: we think; therefore, we are. We can trust our subjective reality more than the objective one. It should follow from such a philosophical notion that people should not judge each other’s perceptions because no one can know what is really true. For a short time this winter, such a judgment was suspended, and everyone freely judged others. 

Megan Draper and Don Draper

Mad Men TV Club: Repetition Compulsion

I won’t lie – this was an annoying episode, and such a disappointment after last week’s strong premiere. And it’s not just that I missed Rachel Menken (which I obviously did).

Topics: Television
Miley Cyrus performing

Choosing Our Role Models, and Letting Them Go

When I was younger, I used to love watching Hannah Montana on television. The lead character, played by Miley Cyrus, lived a double life as pop sensation Hannah Montana. Cyrus had so many fans, so many young not-yet-teenagers who looked up to her. I remember going to see her in concert when I was in fourth grade. It was one of the highlights of my year. 

Seder Plate

How and Why We Remember

The people of a certain culture devote an entire week of each year to commemorating one of the worst parts of their history. They taste bitter things to appreciate the suffering of their ancestors. They consciously abstain from consuming bread to remind themselves what was eatenor rather, what was not eaten. They mourn the deaths of their ancient oppressors. They drink the metaphorical tears of their forefathers and foremothers. And year after year after year, they gather around tables to recount the suffering and the humiliation and the turmoil of their own people.

Topics: History, Passover
Rachel Menken

Mad Men TV Club: Rachel Menken as a Symbol of Difference

I, too, was thrilled at the return of Rachel Menken on the Mad Men Season 7 part 2 premiere. The pleasure was all too brief, however, as it was soon revealed that Rachel had died. Tara described Rachel as “the one who got away,” and I’ve always felt that she was the one who got away from the viewers as much as from Don. From the moment we met Rachel, I wanted more of her—she was smart and elusive; beautiful and guarded; speaking her mind but in some way holding the viewer at arm’s length. 

Topics: Television
Rachel Menken and Don Draper

Mad Men TV Club: The One That Got Away

So why is it that Rachel so strongly resonated with audiences, and what’s the significance of her reappearance and death? Sure Rachel was beautiful, but so are all of Don’s women. She was a career woman, like Dr. Faye and Bobbie Barrett—nothing too unique there. She was Jewish, but so was Roger Sterling’s second wife, Jane.

Topics: Television
The Uncoupling book cover

Book Club Meeting: "The Uncoupling"

Welcome to the JWA Book Club! We are excited to gather today to discuss Meg Wolitzer's best-selling novel, The Uncoupling.

When taking part in our comment-based discussion below, remember to hit "Show Reply" and "Show New Comments" to see the full conversation! Meg Wolitzer will be responding to questions mainly through the "reply" feature.

Here are some questions to consider before we begin:

1. How does The Uncoupling explore the ramifications of the loss of sexual desire?

2. What characters resonated most with you as a reader?

Topics: Fiction
iPhone Screen

The Insincerity of Instagram

I am not opposed to documenting experiences through photographs—often looking at one picture is enough for me to remember an entire sequence of events that I would otherwise have forgotten. However, in an age of social media, the obsession with producing a photo that makes an event look fun, that makes the people involved look glamorous, can be a misrepresentation of the event.

"No Strings Attached" Movie Poster

No Strings Attached? No Way.

In the film industry, 2011 was the year of casual sex. In January, Paramount Pictures released No Strings Attached, starring Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman. The movie documents two best friends who think that introducing physical intimacy into their relationship won’t complicate things and that feelings will not be involved, resulting in a “no strings attached” relationship.

Vintage New Year Postcard with Airplane

Propelled into the New Year

Early in the 20th century, Jewish New Year card manufacturers began embellishing their cards with airplanes. They did so for three interrelated reasons: to call attention to the thrilling, modern invention of the airplane, to draw an analogy between the New Year and this new means of travel, and to use the airplane to highlight the changing status of women. Airplane pictures mirrored the tremendous emigration from Eastern Europe to the West in the early part of the 20th century and were a symbol of progress and modernity.  

Topics: History
Gett: The Trial of Vivian Anselem

Film Review: Gett: The Trial of Vivian Amsalem

Directed and written by the sister-brother team of Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz and based partly on their own family history, this gripping courtroom drama set in Israel traces a Moroccan Jewish woman's effort to obtain a gett, or religious divorce, after years of a loveless marriage. In Israel, there is neither civil marriage nor civil divorce; only Orthodox rabbis can legalize a union or its dissolution, which is only possible with the husband’s full consent.

Topics: Film
Odetta Holmes cropped

Odetta Holmes, Singing for the Voiceless

Through her blues music, Holmes inspired people all over America to take a stand for black equality. She performed at numerous rallies, advocating for civil rights for all; in fact, her music is often called the “soundtrack of the Civil Rights movement.” 

Elizabeth Stahl 5

Three by Three: Making Art a Priority

Clutching a tray of two teacups, Elizabeth leads me upstairs to the study. We sit next to a tall bookshelf and she reaches towards the far right, where thick volumes are bound in hues of navy, emerald, and charcoal, with titles like The Great Alone and Time and Tide. They are the types of books that belong in a study. She slides one off the shelf, sets it on her lap, and opens it up. The book has no pages. In fact, it’s not a book at all, but a box, filled with two stacks of three by three-inch cards, separated by a divider down the middle.

Topics: Painting
Julia Rubin

The Selfish Series: A Column About Putting Ourselves First

The Selfish Series is a monthly column that puts us first. I will interview smart, strong, passionate Jewish women about “selfish” decisions they have made. These will be stories about creative pursuits, love, career ambition, education, and any other areas in which we have fought for our passions. It’s time for me and other Jewish women to recognize that we must simply make more room for ourselves.

Topics: Writing


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Jewish Women's Archive. "Blog." (Viewed on November 28, 2015) <>.


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"We need to begin to realize that to believe in human rights is to be a feminist."
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Make someone's holiday awesome by surprising them w/ and swag!
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Make someone's awesome by surprising them with and swag!