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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

Interview with Danya Ruttenberg

Last week I interviewed one of my new favorite Jewesses with attitude - Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg. I recently (finally!) finished her new book, Surprised by God: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Religion.

World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS Day and, having spent this past summer in Uganda where I volunteered with an indigenous HIV/AIDS advocacy organization, AIDS awareness has particular resonance for me this year.

Listen to Ruth Messinger!

As our country's most politically charged month draws to a close, we're wrapping up November with a podcast of a (former) political leader who never ceases to inspire: the incomparable Ruth Messinger. A former New York City politician and now president of American Jewish World Service, Messinger, featured in JWA's online exhibit Jewish Women and the Feminist Revolution, has much to say about social justice and the challenges of being a woman in politics.

Topics: Feminism

More on Jews, Jewesses, and Thanksgiving

Apropos of Ellen's comment about "what makes Thanksgiving so meaningful for some American Jews" in her prior post, I thought I'd share an excerpt from an article published in The American Jewess in November 1896.

“Do Jews celebrate Thanksgiving?”

"Do Jews celebrate Thanksgiving?" a friend's Catholic grandmother asked her the other day. "Of course, they do," she replied, rolling her eyes. Indeed, in many American Jewish families, Thanksgiving is observed with nearly as much sacredness as (in some cases, even more than) the High Holidays.

Topics: World War II

Emma Lazarus's Audacity of Hope

While many Americans are still relishing in a renewed surge of hope (myself among them), I thought I'd give a shout-out to Emma Lazarus. Her memory became forever associated with her powerful vision of America as a symbol of hope and possibility for the down-trodden. Today marks the 121st anniversary of Emma's untimely death, at the age of 38.

Topics: Poetry

Radical Dancing Annas!

Seventy-one years ago today, Broadway got a little bit feistier when 27-year-old choreographer and dancer Anna Sokolow made her debut with several politically and socially charged compositions.

Anna Schön, a 23-year-old graduate of Barnard College, is a present-day radical dancer of another kind. 

Film Review: Beautiful Hills of Brooklyn

If I ever had any doubt about whether "the ordinary" mattered, Beautiful Hills of Brooklyn drove such doubt away. Based on a true story, and adapted from the play by Ellen Cassedy, Beautiful Hills of Brooklyn is a life portrait of Jessie Singer Sylvester, a retired elderly Jewish woman living on a pension in 1976 who is confronting the changes in her life and in her beloved Brooklyn neighborhood.

Topics: Film, Writing

Remembering Jewish Women in the Service

Today, in honor of Veteran's Day, Jewesses with Attitude is starting a new series highlighting materials we have collected in our Jewish American Women & World War II online collecting project.This is the first in a multi-post series looking at the lives of Jewish women during the era of rations, Rosie the Riveter and the Roosevelts.

Jewish mother blogging

A quick shout out to JWA heroine Joyce Antler -- scholar extraordinaire, chair of our Academic Advisory Council, founding board member, and last but certainly not least, mother to our resident comedian, Lauren. Joyce recently wrote a blog series at Jewcy, in which she elegantly spans the worlds of politics, pop culture, feminism, and humor. Check it out, and share your own Jewish mother funny stories with us in her honor.

Topics: Non-Fiction

Election day kavanah (intention)

I promise I'm not turning this blog into all Bella Abzug, all the time, but I think this election day deserves a kick-ass quote to set the tone. Bella described her occupation as "figuring out how to beat the machine and knock the crap out of the political power structure." She wasn't one to mince words. I love that about her.

It's Any Jewish Woman's Race

In addition to tracking the obvious race in tomorrow’s election, here at the Jewish Women’s Archive, we’ll also be keeping our eyes on two congressional races in which Jewish women are vying for seats in the House of Representatives.

 

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Jewish Women's Archive. "Blog." (Viewed on September 1, 2014) <http://jwa.org/blog>.

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