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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

We should not stand idly by on health care

Twin Cities Jewfolk asked Minnesota State Representative Phyllis Kahn the question: "Is it Jewish to support national health care reform? Why or Why Not?”

Here is Rep. Kahn’s response:

At this advent of the secular New Year, it is appropriate for Jews to reflect on their duty to Tikkun Olam to “repair the world.” It is apparent that among our greatest tasks is to repair our broken health care system in the U.S. today.

Healthcare reform passes in the Senate and more - Link Roundup

This morning the Senate passed their verson of the healthcare reform bill in what was another historic moment.  Still, it doesn't feel much like a victory.  Significant compromises were made, especially regarding abortion coverage, not to mention the loss of a public option. Take a look at the links below for more information, and let us know how you feel about the Senate's bill in the comments.

Fetishizing ourselves

Recently, the infamous Heeb magazine began a feature on their blog called "Gratuitous Jewess," in which they feature photos of a scantily-clad Jewish woman, and then readers comment about whether or not they would "hit that."  Last week there was outrage over the Details piece heralding this very same "Jewess fetish," but apparently the objectification of Jewish women from within the Tribe goes relatively unchallenged.

Standing up for women's health care

These last several weeks, I (like other JWA bloggers) have walked around in a haze of frustration, rage, and despair over politicians' apparent blindness to the centrality of women's health to national health. As a historian, I can attest that as goes women's health, so goes the health of the nation.

Topics: Medicine

A Jewish American (Disney) Princess?

In response to yesterday's post about the "What's a Coastie?" song, Renee Ghert Zand of Truth, Praise & Help shared this video.  Landline TV spoofs classic Disney "behind the scenes" shorts about the making of a fictional new animated film about a Jewish American Princess called "Rachel and the Dragon."

Topics: Film

Henrietta Szold: travel and transformation

Today Henrietta Szold would have been 150 years old.  Exactly 75 years ago today, her birthday was celebrated by Zionists throughout the U.S.  There was a national radio address, parties hosted by local Hadassah chapters, and Shabbat sermons dedicated to her all over the country.  To read more about this remarkable event, visit This Week in History.

What's a Coastie? -- the latest "JAP" attack

News of the University of Wisconsin's slang term "Coastie" exploded over the weekend with a song called "What's a Coastie" quickly going viral on Youtube.  A "Coastie," as explained in the song, is an out-of-state student who wears East Coast fashion and is a "rich Jewish girl."  The lyrics say:

What’s a coastie?

Black tights all day

That’s a coastie

Starbucks, big shades!

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Jewish Women's Archive. "Blog." (Viewed on July 31, 2015) <http://jwa.org/blog>.

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