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Happy 50th birthday, Barbie

I have to admit that I didn't grow up with Barbies. Born to a feminist mom in the 1970s, I only had Skipper, Barbie's flat-chested cousin. But as much as Barbie's boobs kind of frightened me (and still do), Skipper just didn't have her charisma.

Trafficking, Sex Work, ... and Purim?

Purim starts in a few hours, and while the holiday is considered by many to be the most joyous in the Jewish calendar, there is a somber side as well.

Topics: Purim

"The best goddamn madam in all America"

I've been meeting a lot of interesting Jewish women lately. And all without leaving my computer! No, I'm not trolling JDate or chatrooms for a hot date (my life is complicated enough with a husband and two kids, thank you very much) -- I've been wandering through the couple thousand entries in the new online Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia! 

New Online Encyclopedia of Jewish Women! It's Here!

Happy Women's History Month!

Earlier this week, the Jewish Women's Archive proudly launched the online version of Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia, edited by Paula Hyman of Yale University and Dalia Ofer of Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and originally published by Alice and Moshe Shalvi of Shalvi Publishing, Ltd.

Rubber workers, anarchists, and little Jewish ladies

I was reading today about Rose Pesotta, a veteran unionorganizer with the ILGWU, who in February of 1936 went to Akron, Ohio to helpworkers striking at the Goodyear Rubber factory. She was sent to raise supportfor the strike among the workers' wives and daughters, but she was alsosuccessful in connecting with the workers themselves, ultimately helping to endthe strike with a negotiated settlement.

Topics: Labor, Unions

Vamping with Theda Bara (Who?!)

One of the highlights of our work at the Jewish Women’s Archive is uncovering hidden histories. In our This Week in History profile this week, we are looking back at silent film star Theda Bara.

Topics: Acting, Film, Theater

Mazel Tov, Sara Hurwitz!

Yesterday, I was pleased to receive an e-mail from the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA) congratulating Sara Hurwitz "on having completed the required course of study in Yoreh Deah" to become a spiritual leader. Hurwitz presently serves as a leader of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale.

BFFs...Forever

As the digital archivist here at the Jewish Women’s Archive, my duties include cataloging our multitudes of oral histories that have been recorded over the past 13 years. Each woman featured in our collection of oral histories has a story to tell; some stories are astounding, others capture the essence of a generation, but mostly they are beautiful and touching stories that resonate.

Topics: Children

Celebrating the Earth and the Jewish Women who Keep it Healthy!

A few weeks ago – in anticipation of Tu B'Shevat, the Jewish New Year for Trees – the Jewish Women's Archive introduced a new web-feature, Jewish Women in Environmental Activism.

Topics: Tu B'Shvat

Keeping Ruth Bader Ginsburg in My Thoughts ...

I was saddened to learn yesterday that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had been hospitalized for pancreatic cancer. Ginsburg is only the second woman - and the first Jewish woman - to serve on the United States Supreme Court.

Topics: Law

What I learned from Aliza Lavie ...

Did you know that there's a special prayer for preparing the wicks of Shabbat candles? Neither did I. This past Tuesday, I listened to Dr. Aliza Lavie discuss her book, A Jewish Woman's Prayer Book, a collection of prayers composed by and for women over hundreds of years in all parts of the world.

June Finer. Vicki Gabriner. Anyone? Let's Not Forget!

On January 21, the Forward published an article about how Obama's presidency is renewing Jewish activists' memories of the civil rights movement, offering personal vindication for some of the central experiences in these Jewish activists' lives.

Topics: Civil Rights

Molly Picon: A Celebrity for the Ages

Years ago, when I was working on my undergraduate thesis on Yiddish film, I attempted conversation about the subject at cocktail parties (well, at that point they weren’t yet cocktail parties, but there were definitely M&Ms) –

“Yiddish? Film? What? Like Yentl?”

No. Not like Yentl. They’re in Yiddish! And most of them were originally Yiddish theater productions. Molly Picon? ... No?... Nobody?... Nevermind. Is it hot in here? Pass the M&Ms.

The Risk-Takers. The Doers. The Makers of Things.

Happy first day of the Obama Administration! It was quite special to watch the inaugural festivities yesterday (via web-streaming) with my co-workers at the Jewish Women's Archive. As cherishers and preservers of history, it was very gratifying to experience the making of history and hear an inaugural address which shared the power that history has -- indeed, "our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness."

Comedy, Cultural Memory & Legacy

In a recent session of my comedy class for Jewish high schoolers, I instructed the students to re-do a scene in the style of the "Tonight Show with Johnny Carson." I might as well have said "gee willakers" and put on my newsies cap.

Who Does She Think She Is?

This past weekend I saw a documentary film called Who Does She Think She Is?. The film profiles five female artists who are also mothers, as well as several commentators including Tiffany Shlain, creator of The Tribe, and Courtney Martin author of Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters and contributor to Feministing.com.

Topics: Art, Mothers, Film

Thinking of Grace

With all that's happening in Gaza, and with yesterday's arrests of eight Jewish women who were peacefully protesting outside of the Israeli consulate in Toronto, I can't help but think of Grace Paley.

Topics: Poetry

Arise, Arise: A New Wave of Jewish Women Musicians

Yesterday I attended a workshop on themes of social justice in Jewish music. I was given a music packet that included songs by Bob Dylan, Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul, and Mary), Pete Seeger, Jeff Klepper, the stud-of-a-Jewish-Rockstar Rick Recht, and E18hteen (the modern Jewish rock band founded by Dan Nichols). "E18hteen" sings that catchy song "Kehilah, Kedoshah" which is all the rage in Reform Jewish camps (I'm not going to lie -- I dig this song despite its cheesiness).

Joan Rivers as Yoda

I've always had a soft spot for Joan Rivers. Once, as a student at Barnard, (BC '98), Rivers's Alma Mater, I was highlighted by a Barnard publication for my work as a comedian, and was noted to be "the next Joan Rivers." Erroneously, this allowed me to believe that we were secret best friends, and that if ever I was to meet Joan -I would say "Hello, I am the next You; we are best friends, yes?"  Also erroneous is the claim itself - there is no "Next Joan Rivers" - she is irreplaceable  (nor do I come close).

My Bat Mitzvah's Bat Mitzvah

Today is the 13th anniversary of my Bat Mitzvah - my Bat Mitzvah’s Bat Mitzvah.

Topics: Ritual

Remembering Helen Suzman

A lovely May day in 1981. Standing — for the first and only time — in my black PhD robe waiting for the Brandeis Commencement festivities to begin. More ambivalent than excited. Not about my imminent departure from the Ivy Tower but about the speaker and honorary degree recipient, Helen Suzman, who died in Johannesburg yesterday at the age of 91.

Eight Inspiring Stories for Eight Days of Hanukkah

Happy first day of Hanukkah! With Bernard Madoff bringing a bit of gloom and doom to our nation's holiday season, now is an especially important time for us to be (re)-inspired by those who bring out the best of Jewish life and social responsibility.

To help mark the eight days of Hanukkah, meet eight inspiring Jewish women whose stories are told at jwa.org...

Topics: Hanukkah

Muriel Rukeyser: Daring to Live for the Impossible

While listening to the Writer's Almanac this morning, I was reminded that today is the birthday of poet Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980) who lived to "breathe-in experience, breathe-out poetry."

Topics: Poetry

Remembering Pearl Harbor

Every generation has specific dates that are indelibly etched into the memories of the people who lived them. For my generation of baby boomers, the day that President Kennedy was assassinated is one, followed by the days on which Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were killed.  Most of us can remember vividly where we were and what we were doing as events unfolded on those historic dates.

Topics: World War II

Mazel Tov, Arlene Blum! A Woman with a Purpose

I'd like to give a special congratulatory shout-out to Arlene Blum, a phenomenal Jewess and founder of the Green Science Policy Institute, who was just awarded the 2008 Purpose Prize for people over the age of 60 who are taking on society's biggest challenges. 

Topics: Activism

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Jewish Women's Archive. "Blog." (Viewed on September 30, 2014) <http://jwa.org/blog>.

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