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Jewesses with Attitude

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Kagan and bat mitzvah innovation

I've been loving the coverage of Elena Kagan's youthful challenge of her rabbi over her right to have a bat mitzvah. I love it because it confirms what I've always believed -- that the chutzpah of young girls is not just pre-teen attitude but a sign of inner strength and a harbinger of great things to come (and I say this not only in a self-serving way as a former obnoxious girl-child or as the mother of a burgeoning one).

If Elena Kagan were a man, would we be questioning her sexuality?

It’s common knowledge that Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is Jewish, and except for some handwringing over the fact that her appointment would mean the Court would be made up entirely of Jews and Catholics, her Jewish identity is a non-issue. Unlike the debates over Justice Sotomayor’s ethnicity, no one is worried that Kagan’s status as a “wise Jewess” will color her judgment. Her sexual orientation, however, is another story.

"Listen To Your Mother"

The Jewish Women’s Archive was the community partner for the Boston New Center for Arts and Culture’s last program of the season on May 6, “Listen to Your Mother,” featuring StoryCorps founder David Isay. He played a number of clips from StoryCorps interviews and closed the evening with a “sneak preview” of StoryCorps’ newest venture which will be broadcast on PBS this summer -- an extremely effective animated version of a conversation between a mother and her young son.

Topics: Mothers

The Supreme Court and the Single Gal

This was originally posted at The Sisterhood

It’s hard not to get excited about the nomination of Elena Kagan to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court. If seated, she would bring the number of women on the Supreme Court to three, the number of Jewish women to two, and the total number of Jews on the bench to three. On paper, Kagan’s a great choice. An Upper West Side girl who went to public school and then off to Princeton and Harvard Law School, where she became the first woman to be named the Dean of the Law School. And then she became the first woman to serve as Solicitor General of the United States.

Jewish feminism, then and now

Yesterday I celebrated Mother's Day in an unusual way.

Mazel tov to Elena Kagan, Supreme Court nominee!

We at the Jewish Women's Archive were thrilled to watch President Obama officially nominate Elena Kagan to the United States Supreme Court. If confirmed, she would be the third woman on the Supreme Court and the fourth woman Supreme Court Justice in American history! She would also join Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the second Jewish woman on the court.

Topics: Law

Navah Paskowitz-Walther: The Jewish Mother of Surfing’s First Family

Knowing Navah Paskowitz-Walther today as a San Fernando Valley stay-at-home mom who is active in her synagogue and children’s Jewish day school, it is hard to believe that, as a child, she lived a peripatetic existence in a 24-foot camper.

Topics: Mothers, Sports

Changing Targets: Technology and Jewish Education

Earlier this week I listened in on the “Technology and Jewish Education” conference organized by the Lippman Kanfer Institute and Berman Jewish Policy Archive @ NYU Wagner, held at the JESNA offices in New York. I heard many familiar themes: Jewish education is underfunded, and in particular Jewish educators lack both resources and training to take advantage of technology.

More search stories: What if Lillian Wald and Henrietta Szold used Google?

We had so much fun making Emma Goldman's search story that we took requests and made two more! I wonder what else we could do with this neat tool.

Finding a Jewish feminist home

I walk into what is undoubtedly the most beautiful house on campus. Its simplicity allows for the exuberance of the people within it to shine. The rabbi opens the door, a young father of twins, all smiles and joking about having to convince me to attend the university even though my mind was already made up. I follow my friend Tobah, a Conservative Jew who has yet to skip a week of coming to the multi-denominational Havurah, into the living-room-turned-synagogue. We squeeze onto a couch with a sisterhood of freshmen and sophomores who make up the majority of the Kabbalat Shabbat crowd.

Topics: Feminism, Prayer

If Emma Goldman used Google

Tamar Fox over at My Jewish Learning discovered the new Search Story tool at Youtube that allows you to easily mimic Google's renowned Parisian Love Story commercial. She saw the potential in this right away, and put together two videos, one about the history of the state of Israel and one about Jewish lifecycle events.

On Being a Jewish Mother, Professionally

I am an actress, currently rehearsing a one-woman show at the Nora Theatre in Cambridge, MA.  I play Ann Landers, a.k.a. Eppie Lederer. The title of the show is The Lady With All the Answers.

Topics: Mothers

Like our work? Tell the world!

You use Yelp to find restaurant reviews, Amazon for book reviews, and TripAdvisor to find hotel reviews. But where can you go to read and write reviews of nonprofits like the Jewish Women's Archive

Womens' Words: Should we stop cursing?

Today's guest post comes from high school student Talia Weisberg, creator of Bleep!, an organization dedicated to eradicating the use of foul language by today's youth. Talia created Bleep!

Topics: Feminism

History Next Door

New Yorkers know better than to bother an actor, celebrity or otherwise famous person when they see one on the street (or in a restaurant, store, or park – not to mention stepping out of a taxi).  As a New Yorker for fifteen years, I upheld this unwritten rule – even when it came to a famous neighbor.

Topics: Midwifery

Happy 90th Birthday, Gerda Lerner!

"I am a Jewish woman, I am an immigrant, and I will no longer permit others to define me." A Death of One's Own (1978).

A few Friday links

Have you seen any other interesting posts or articles this week? Share them in the comments!

Dorothy Height, Honorary Jewess with Attitude

Like countless other Americans, here at the Jewish Women's Archive we were great admirers of Dorothy Height, who died on April 20 at the age of 98 and is being buried in Washington, DC today. Given what we know about Dr. Height, we couldn’t help but be struck by President Obama’s statement that "the godmother of the civil rights movement" had “served as the only woman at the highest level of the civil rights movement, witnessing [italics added] every march and milestone along the way."

Topics: Civil Rights

Mikveh Dreams

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately about niddah, or the laws having to do with a women’s monthly immersion in the mikveh (this is what happens when you run a Jewish blog---you read a lot of random things). I am no expert on this issue---far from it---but I think it’s a really interesting topic, and something that more women should be aware of, especially in light of the battle over mikvaot that is going on in some communities in Israel right now. 

Topics: Ritual

The "real" Sarah Silverman

Last Friday I went to a sold-out book reading in Coolidge Corner. Sarah Silverman, probably the most (in)famous Jewish woman comedian today, was reading from her new memoir, The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee. Since she is without a doubt a "Jewess with attitude," I thought it was important that I be there.

Topics: Comedy, Memoirs

Another "Jewess with attitude" on the Supreme Court?

Mere minutes after news of Justice John Paul Stevens’ retirement went public two weeks ago, speculation about his replacement began. As Republican lawmakers declared their opposition to all and any hypothetical candidates and the Obama administration played coy while strategically leaking information to the media, political junkies began to analyze the President’s “shortlist”: those few candidates strongly rumored to be up for the job. The initial conventional wisdom pointed to three contenders: Appeals Court judges Diane P. Wood and Merrick B. Garland, and Solicitor General Elena Kagan.

Earth Day: Honoring Jewish women environmentalists!

In January, we asked you to help us recognize the many Jewish women working to increase environmental consciousness and protect our planet. We were delighted by the response, and have been working on adding these new and important stories to our collection. 

Topics: Activism

Story Time

The work of the historian is to not only tell a story, but to tell it in a way that makes it real, vivid, alive, and human for the receiver. I learned this on Monday when I had the privilege of attending the Matrix Awards and hearing Doris Kearns-Goodwin’s acceptance speech. This wisdom instantly struck a chord because it describes exactly why I write and what I want to do with my writing.

Topics: Feminism

From the Supreme Court short list to mother-daughter body issues - Link Roundup

  • In a response to this New York Times piece, Elissa Strauss tackles the Jewish relationship to body hair and hair removal. [Sisterhood]
  • For Elana Kagan and Judge Diane Wood, the two "Jewesses with attitude" on Obama's Supreme Court short list, their pro-gay and pro-choice politics will be the focus of media vetting.

The Loaded Tattoo

Today on Truth, Praise & Help, Renee Ghert-Zand expressed her displeasure at two Israeli men who decided to honor their Holocaust survivor matriarch with a tattoo of her Auschwitz number on their forearms. She, like many Jews, has trouble with tattoos and finds Holocaust remembrance tattoos particularly offensive.

Topics: Holocaust


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Jewish Women's Archive. "Blog." (Viewed on October 24, 2016) <>.


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