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Celebrating Ruth Proskauer Smith, an unheralded champion of women's and human rights

Ruth Proskauer Smith, a longtime women's and human rights activist, passed away last Friday at the impressive age of 102. Smith co-founded the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, which later became the National Abortion Rights Action League and is today known as NARAL Pro-Choice America.

The work/family balance, feminist-atheist siddurs, Holocaust hip hop and more -- Link Roundup Jan. 27, 2010

  • This is interesting in light of the discussion taking place at The Sisterhood about feminism and the work/family balance.

Household hints from the "American Jewess"

Take a look at these "household hints" published in American Jewess in January, 1896. Published between April 1895 and August 1899, The American Jewess was the first English-language publication directed to American Jewish women. I wonder what household hints American Jewesses would share today?

Topics: Journalism

Submit your environmental activist before Tu B'Shevat!

Saturday is Tu B'Shevat, known as the "Jewish New Year for trees," the "Jewish Arbor Day," or the "Jewish birthday for trees." The holiday has an interesting history that, believe it or not, began with taxes.  Lenore Skenazy explains in The Forward:

Back about 2,000 years ago, Tu B’Shevat — literally the 15th day of the month of Shvat — was a tax deadline, of sorts. Any trees planted before Tu B’Shvat were considered to have been “born” the previous year. Those planted after Tu B’Shvat (or, perhaps those that started blooming after Tu B’Shvat) were part of the next year’s crop. As the amount of fruit you were required to tithe from each tree was determined by its age, this date was significant. And since the easiest way to remember a tree’s birthday was to plant it on that day, that’s what some folks did: planted.

"Does working make me a bad mother?" -- Legitimate question, or pseudo dilemma?

Last week in The Sisterhood, Elana Sztokman weighed in on the struggle to balance work and motherhood. Her piece was written partly in response to an earlier Sisterhood post by Deborah Kolben, who wondered if choosing to stay home with her new baby made her a "bad feminist."  Below is an excerpt from Elana Szotkman's piece.

Topics: Mothers

Trusting women: A look back

Today is the 37 anniversary of the Supreme Court's legalization of abortion in the Roe v. Wade decision, and as such, it's also NARAL's 5th annual Blog for Choice Day. The question NARAL has posed for this year is "What does Trust Women mean to you?" And I've chosen to answer this as historians do best -- by dipping into the archives for a story about Jewish women and reproductive rights that goes back much farther than 1973.

Blogging, Tweeting, and Facebooking for Choice: An interview with Gloria Feldt

Happy 5th Annual Blog for Choice Day!

Today is the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and to celebrate this occassion, we wanted to discuss one of the more exciting new developments in Choice organizing: the use of social media.  Who better to speak on this topic than Gloria Feldt, whose passion for Choice organizing remains strong after 30 years of leadership at Planned Parenthood. Gloria volunteers on the board of the Women's Media Center and the Jewish Women's Archive, and worked as a consultant for Not Under the Bus, a platform and aggregator for the many media campaigns working to combat stop anti-abortion measures in healthcare reform.

Add an environmental activist to our list!

Beginning with the commandment for Adam and Eve to protect the Garden of Eden, Jewish tradition teaches that sustaining the health of the earth and all of its living things is a moral imperative.

Where was gender in the Brown/Coakley race?

The Jewish Women's Archive offices are located in Masachusetts, and as you might imagine, morale was pretty low in the office yesterday.  On Tuesday, we witnessed one of the greatest defeats for the Democratic party as Republican Scott Brown was elected to represent our traditionally "blue" state.  Gender was never really a part of Martha Coakley's campaign, nor the rhetoric surrounding the race in the weeks and months leading up to the election.

Babysitter or JSitter: what's at stake when we discriminate

I recently received a press release announcing the launch of JSitter.com, a site that purports to connect families with "reliable" Jewish babysitters, pet sitters, and house sitters. My initial reaction to this was disgust. This morning while I was catching up on my reading, I saw a post on TC Jewfolk that caught my attention.  In their advice column, "Ask Shuli," a reader asked: "I’m wondering where to find a Jewish babysitter.

Topics: Children

The "Not My Tax Dollars" campaign and the complexity of Tikkun Olam

The people at the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) are turning one of the arguments for the Hyde Amendment back on itself in an exciting video campaign with one of my favorite video bloggers, Jay Smooth. Hyde supporters have argued that federal dollars should not fund something a large percentage of the population considers immoral. The CRR is asking: what do you wish the government wouldn't spend your tax dollars on?  And if you don't get to pick and choose, why should the Pro-Lifers?

What the Women of the Wall Want

Anat Hoffman is director of the Israel Religious Action Center of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism and chair of Women of the Wall.  This was originally published as an op-ed in The Forward.

A Prayer For The New Year

Renee Ghert-Zand is a Jewish educator and writer living in Palo Alto, CA. This piece was originally posted on her blog about Jewish culture, education, current events and parenting, called Truth, Praise and Help: Musings of a Gen X Yiddishe Mama.

Topics: Prayer

Take action today with Not Under the Bus

Today I discovered a particularly obnoxious column in the Boston Globe that began with the line, "A specter is haunting America, and much of the industrialized world - the specter of female domination."  The piece, by Globe columnist Alex Beam, argues that women are taking over America and that boys are "tomorrow's second sex."  Beam claims that because women outnumber men in general, in colleges, and in the workforce, they are, in effect, "dominating" America. As the father of 3 sons, Beam wonders if he is "raising the underclass of tomorrow."  Seriously? 

Miep Gies: an ordinary heroine

Reading about Miep Gies’ death this morning in the New York Times caused me to pause and reflect on the story of this ordinary Dutch woman who selflessly hid Anne Frank’s family and friends over 60 years ago. Anne Frank’s story is one that we’re all more than familiar with, and it bears no repeating here.

Topics: Holocaust

Jews and the Civil Rights Movement: There’s more to it than you might think

Today, when most Reform synagogues have a social action committee and when legal segregation is a thing of the past, it may be hard for us to understand how some American Jews could not support and participate in the Civil Rights Movement. Over the last seven months, as I’ve worked on a high school curriculum about Jewish participation in the Civil Rights Movement for the Jewish Women’s Archive, I have been examining this issue and many others that highlight the complexities of Civil Rights history.

Topics: Civil Rights

Obsessive Segregation Is About Misogyny — Not Modesty

I knew I would regret it as soon as I started typing, but I did it anyway. As much as I try to avoid getting into virtual arguments in talkback-land, this week I found myself unable to restrain myself. The language, it seems to me, is at the root of the problem, and that’s where the fight needs to take place.

Natalie Portman has got a point

Natalie Portman raised some eyebrows last week when she stated that she avoids Jewish roles, romantic comedies, and playing the "sex object," in an interview with Elle magazine.

Topics: Acting, Film

What would Ida Cohen Rosenthal think of your bra as a symbol for breast cancer awareness?

Today I got a curious message titled "Breast Cancer Awareness" in my inbox on Facebook.  It instructed me to update my status to say the color of my bra, and asked me to spread the word to my lady friends only. It struck me as an odd way to show support for breast cancer awareness, but I decided to play along. 

Throughout the day, I saw the number of status updates reading simply "black" or "hot pink" increase throughout the day, accompanied by comments by confused and frustrated male friends asking, "What does it mean???"  I was pretty surprised to see how quickly the message spread throughout the Facebook universe.  (Behold the power of social media!)

And as this was happening, and will continue to happen, I couldn't help but wonder what Ida Cohen Rosenthal -- co-founder of Maidenform -- would think of the fact that the bra is quickly becoming a symbol of breast cancer awareness.

The Western Wall: ground zero for the struggle for equality and pluralism

Today Jane Eisner, editor in chief of The Forward, reported the second egregious injustice at the Western Wall in the following pieces.

Women of the Wall Leader Interrogated by Police

The leader of Women of the Wall, a group of women who gather monthly to pray at Jerusalem’s Western Wall, was questioned by police, fingerprinted, and told that she may be charged with a felony for violating the rules of conduct at what is considered Judaism’s most sacred site.

Calls to action and "quiet revolutions" -- Link Roundup 1/6/2010

Saying goodbye to Jean Carroll

Legendary comedian Jean Carroll passed away on New Year's Day at the age of 98.  A pioneering stand up comedian, Jean Carroll was a regular headliner in nightclubs and theaters in the '40s and '50s.  She was featured on the Ed Sullivan Show, and she even had her own sitcom on ABC in the 1953-1954 season.

Topics: Comedy

Rachel Simmons on the Truths of Girls' Lives

One of the country’s foremost experts on the lives of American girls is Rachel Simmons, a 35-year-old alumna of Vassar College and Oxford University who also attended the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School through high school.

The decade in Jewish women's history

Since we celebrated the beginning of a new millenium, Jewish women have continued to make important "firsts" in a variety of fields, and have made their voices heard in the Jewish community, in American culture and politics, and in forums around the world.  Here are just some of the important events of this decade in Jewish women's history.  Please do add other important events and accomplishments in the comments.

Happy New Year everyone!

The decade's best Jewish athlete?

Last week the Jewish Chronicle asked us to nominate the most important Jewish person in sports over the last decade.  They suggested Israeli footballer Yossi Benayoun, European judo champion Arik Ze’evi, tennis star Andy Ram, and American swimmer Jason Lezak.  Tablet magazine picked up on the story, and added Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis to the list. Excuse me, but where are the Jewish women athletes? Have they been invisible for the past ten years?  Considering the Associated Press' recent nomination of two horses for "Female Athlete of the Year," maybe so.

Topics: Athletes

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