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Jewesses with Attitude

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Don’t call her Anna-Lou, or a lesbian

In week three of my Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia self-education program, I've been thinking about Annie Leibovitz.

Bat Mitzvah revolutions and evolutions

Judith Kaplan (Eisenstein) made history 87 years ago today when she became the first American to celebrate a Bat Mitzvah. As the daughter of an innovative rabbi - Mordechai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism- she benefited from his belief in egalitarianism and his willingness to challenge tradition.

Topics: Ritual

A Look at "How Jews Look" and "The Colors of Water"

A few weeks ago, released "How Jews Look", a four-and-a-half minute film profiling a few Jews reflecting upon their own appearances in connection with their Jewish identities. A lively and somewhat heated conversation about "How Jews Look" emerged on Jewschool.

Topics: Film

Podcasts for Women's History Month!

Happy Women's History Month! This may come as a shock, but at the Jewish Women's Archive, every month -- correction: every minute of every month -- is Women's History Month. Still, there's no reason why we shouldn't do something special on cue with the Gregorian calendar, right? Of course.

Women crunch numbers, too. Like Barbara Liskov.

Think you can't survive without your computer? The Internet? The blogosphere? Me too. It's easy for me (and for many of us, I think) to forget about the brains, number crunching, and rigorous research that enable us to post blog entries, read the NY Times online, or shop for shoes with just the click of a mouse.

Topics: Technology

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.


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

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


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Jewish Women's Archive. "Blog." (Viewed on November 25, 2015) <>.


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