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Healthcare reform is a women's issue

Last Friday, Michelle Obama spoke to leaders of several women's groups arguing that "overhauling the nation’s health care system was of critical importance to women and part of 'the next step' in their long quest to assure full opportunity and equality."  With healthcare reform at the forefront, it is becoming more and more obvious that the status quo is sexist, unfair, and often dangerous for women.  For the first time in a long time, I am getting angry.

Wolf, Chesler Weigh In on the Hijab — and Each Other

Naomi Wolf — the feminist Jewish author of the bestselling landmark book, “The Beauty Myth,” which brazenly exposes how the multi-billion dollar beauty industry manipulates women’s entire sense of self — is gorgeous. For two decades now, the brilliant and outspoken Wolf has decried cosmetics, plastic-surgery and hair removal businesses while appearing, let’s just say, well made-up.

Topics: Feminism

Apples, honey, cake and ...stew? A High Holidays festive food link roundup

The Jewish holidays are divided (in my mind) into "food holidays" and "not food holidays."  The High Holy Days are the ultimate expression of this dichotomy.  On Rosh Hashana, we delight in foods that are sweet to ring in the New Year, and on Yom Kippur, we fast. 

Mazel tov, Chai Feldblum

On Monday, President Obama announced his nomination for Commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and I couldn't be happier about his pick: Chai Feldblum, Professor of Law at Georgetown, who also happens to be an out Jewish lesbian.

The all-singing, all-dancing, Jewish girl on Glee

I have fallen head-over-heels in love with the new Fox series Glee.  Often called the "anti-High School Musical," Glee is a series about a group of high school misfits who find their place in the unpopular Glee Club, featuring Rachel Berry -- a Jewish girl -- as the lead female character. The show uses all the usual high school stereotypes (cheerleaders, jocks, freaks, geeks, etc.), to create a deliciously witty and hilarious satire.  The students of the Glee Club represent the standard marginalized groups you would find in a high school and it is led by, you guessed it, the strong-willed Jewish girl.

Topics: Television

"Only in America" poll results

The results are in from the National Museum of American Jewish History's poll to select the 18 individuals to be featured in their "Only in America" Hall of Fame. The results are not too surprising.

The Rosh Hashana link feast

This week is flying by and Rosh Hashana is almost upon us.  If you have been as busy as we have this past week at the Jewish Women's Archive, the holiday comes as a welcome respite.  I have rounded up a "menu" of High Holiday links, some silly and some serious, to help ease us into the holiday season.  Enjoy!

 

What Patrick Swayze (z”l) did for Jewish women

I heard the news about Patrick Swayze's death when I logged on to Facebook last night and saw numerous status updaes about dancing the merenge and not putting Baby in the corner. Swayze's death is not just sad (he was only 57); for Jewish girls of my generation, it's the end of era.

Topics: Film

Remembering Sylvia Schur, a pioneer who transcended the kitchen

Thanks to Julie & Julia, foodies are abuzz about Julia Child.  Icon though she is, the story of a different sort of chef caught my attention this week.  Sylvia Schur passed away at age 92 last week.  Her obituary in the New York Times captivated me as I realized that this woman was no ordinary chef. 

Sylvia Schur was not a stereotypical "Betty Crocker," though she did create recipes for the company.  She did not wear pearls and an apron and stand in a TV studio stirring cake batter. Instead, she pioneered the modern food industry - creating the now classic recipes you see on the back of the box, problem solving with the heads of Ocean Spray, editing magazines, running a successful consulting company, and developing convenience foods for women on the go.  Sylvia Schur was a creative champion of modern working women who refused to spend their days in the kitchen.

Ray Frank: "Lady Preacher" of the West

One-hundred and nineteen years ago today, Ray Frank became the first Jewish woman to speak from a synagogue pulpit in the United States. Ray Frank's story is particularly intriguing due to its complexity and the questions it raises. This was undoubtedly an important event in American Jewish women's history, but its impact is not straightforward, and thinking of Ray Frank as a heroine of the women's movement is somewhat problematic.

Topics: Rabbis

Gloria Steinem speaks at OMEGA and more - Link Roundup Sep. 14, 2009

Gloria Steinem, a "Jewess with attitude" if I ever saw one, spoke at the OMEGA Women & Power conference on Sep. 11th.  Feministing has a few posts about her talk to check out.  The theme of the conference was connecting across generations, and I absolutely love what Steinem had to say on that subject.  She rebukes the misconception that young women don't care about feminism, and of course, she doesn't hold back.

Family-friendly policies in the Jewish community

I read Gabrielle Birkner's article in the Forward on the shameful lack of family-friendly policies in most Jewish organizations with disappointment, but not surprise. It's one of the well-known but rarely articulated -- except by whispering mothers, trying to figure out how to manage their jobs and pregnancies -- secrets of the Jewish community.

Topics: Mothers

Finding a deeper connection to 9/11

I have always had trouble feeling connected to 9/11. Like every other American, I remember where I was and what I was doing when I found out about the attack (high school band class), but the wave of nationalism following 9/11 affected me more than the actual event, and my memories reflect that distinction. I did not know anyone that was killed, lost a loved one, or helped in the rescue or cleanup efforts, and every year I struggle to find a personal connection to that day.  This year Rabbi Irwin Kula's haunting recording of 9/11 voicemails set to Eicha trope gave me that connection, and left me holding back tears in my office.

Woe unto the single, Jewish actress in New York

While working on a story about the theater, I came across aninteresting, though as yet anecdotally-based tidbit: There are morefemale than male actors in New York, and the women are more talented toboot.

Topics: Acting, Theater

Love Shouldn't Hurt

Today I discovered the National Council for Jewish Women of Columbus, Ohio's "Love Shouldn't Hurt" community service project, which educates high school students about dating abuse and healthy relationships.  The NCJW's Love Shouldn't Hurt committee, chaired by Nancy Eisenman, has reached over 1,800 students with their teen dating abuse lecture. The NCJW of Columbus, Ohio is working to pass a bill to require all schools to include educational programs about dating and relationship abuse in the high school curriculum. I applaud this initiative, and wish there were a similar bill on the floor of every state legislature.

Book reviews, burlesque, and feminist racehorses - Link Roundup Sep. 9, 2009

Everyday I encounter a number of interesting websites, articles, and blog posts that are definitely worth mentioning. I hope you find these as interesting as I do!

  • Mazel tov to Judith Seidman and Linda Frum-Sokolowski, two Jewish women appointed to the Canadian Senate by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. [The Canadian Jewish News]
  • 'Nice Little Jewish Girls Gone Bad:' a new burlesque show challenges Jewish stereotypes. [South Bend Tribune]
  • The Forward reviews Carol Leifer's When You Lie About Your Age, The Terrorists Win: Reflections on Looking in the Mirror [The Forward]
  • Meet Donna Party and Tina Flay: two Jewish women rockin' the roller derby scene. [Oy!Chicago]

Inglourious Jewess

Inglourious Basterds has been called the "ultimate Jewish revenge fantasy," in every review and blog post I have seen.  I am not interested in adding my two cents to the debate about whether revenge fantasies are "good for the Jews" or "bad for the Jews."  Instead, I would like to offer a different angle on the film. 

Last week I wrote about the deficit of "kick-ass Jewish women" in film, and Sylvia suggested that Shoshana of Inglourious Basterds fit the bill.  Now that I've seen the movie, I completely agree.  The true hero of Inglourious Basterds is the heroine: Shoshana Dreyfus, a kick-ass Jewish feminist.

Topics: Feminism, Film

Teaching resources on labor activism

In (belated) honor of Labor Day and the start of the new school year, I want to call your attention to a set of lesson plans on labor activism and communal responsibility. The lessons are based on a speech given by Rose Schneiderman, a Jewish immigrant activist, lifelong advocate for the rights of workers and of women, and powerful orator.

Topics: Labor

"Still Lives" and the women of the 23 Souls

In early September of 1654, 355 years ago today, a group of Brazilian Jews described in the public records as "23 souls, big as well as little," arrived on the docks of the new world Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, now known as New York.  These were not the first Jews to reach North America, but the group is significant because it was mostly women and children, signaling the beginning of the first Jewish community in the New World.

'Berlin 36' and Gretel Bergmann's story

Next week is the release of Berlin 36 in German cinemas.  Berlin 36 is a film about Gretel Bergmann, the talented German high jumper denied a spot on the 1936 Olympic team because she was Jewish.  Rather than face the embarassment of a Jew winning a gold medal for Germany, the Third Reich selected gentile Dora Ratjen to compete in Bergmann's place. Two years later, a doctor revealed that "Dora" was actually a man.

The "mother-in-lawsuit," God as a woman, and everything you wanted to know about bagels - Link Roundup Sep. 2, 2009

Yesterday I participated in that wonderful September 1st Boston tradition called "Moving Day," where everybody across the city plays a traffic-ridden game of musical apartments.  To make up for my absence, here is a mega link roundup.  Enjoy!

  • Mother in law-suit? A Jewish woman is suing her daughter-in-law, a standup comedian, over her “malicious” mother-in-law routine. No joke!  [Heeb]
  • After a Muslim woman recently made waves in a “burquini,” Elle magazine takes a look at swimsuit scandals throughout history.  [Elle]
  • David K. Israel of Mentalfloss lists the “Top 20 Jewish Comedians of All Time.” Guess how many women he left out?  Tsk, tsk, Mr. Israel.  I’ll meet your Howard Stern and raise you Sophie Tucker or Joan Rivers or any of the rest of the Jewish women from Making Trouble. [Mentalfloss]
  • Amid celebrations of Women’s Equality Day, Nancy Ratzan reminds us that women are still paid less than men. [The Forward]

Bring on the Emmas!

Last week, the New York Times reported the most popular baby names, noting that there were "few baby Baracks, but Emmas abound."  "Emma" has bumped "Emily" out of the No. 1 spot as the most popular baby name for girls.  The article mentions that "Emma" has been in the top 10 since 2002, and also ranked in the top 10 in the late 19th century.  Hmm... the late 19th century, you say? 

The Return of the Red Hot Mama

I was thrilled to see the full page spread in today's New York Times about Sophie Tucker and the release of a new anthology of her early work. One of the subjects of our documentary about Jewish women comedians, Making Trouble, she's a big favorite around the Jewish Women's Archive.

Katrina's Jewish Voices and Women's Stories

This post is written by Jayne Guberman, project director of Katrina's Jewish Voices.

Four years ago today, the world was transfixed as images of Hurricane Katrina roared across our television screens and the horrifying stories of people stranded and lost flooded our inboxes, websites, and, it seemed, every news outlet in the country. Certainly at the Jewish Women’s Archive, we were transfixed.  Our beloved board member, Carol Wise, and her family had fled the storm along with tens of thousands of other New Orleanians and were holed up in a hotel in Dallas.  Her messages to us in those early days were full of relief, gratitude for the loving hands being extended to them from across the country, worry and concern about their homes and their neighborhoods, and anxiety for those left behind.

Deena Gerber and Roselle Ungar: Where are they now?

Deena Gerber and Roselle Ungar, two leaders of the New Orleans Jewish community who played instrumental roles in the relief and rebuild efforts during and after Hurricane Katrina, helped to coordinate rescues, distribute aid money, and help displaced members of the community find each other.  Four years later, where are they now?

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RT @AJHSNYC: Mon., 10/20 Women in American Sport: Settlement Houses to the Olympics http://t.co/WmhwjWeDNt
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@NYJewishWeek Thanks for the heads up!