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Jewesses with Attitude

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Parenting Like the Talmud Told You?

Last week’s New York Times article “So the Torah Is a Parenting Guide?” discusses the prolific use of the book The Blessing of a Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children written by a Los Angeles clinical psychologist named Wendy Mogel.

Rose Kushner: breast cancer activism pioneer

If you’ve noticed that we seem to be awash in a sea of pink ribbons and ads for pink products these days, you probably realize that it’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Not surprisingly, given our prominence as feminist leaders (and the higher incidence of breast cancer among women of Ashkenazi descent), Jewish women have played leading roles in breast cancer activism. The public attention to breast cancer today is largely due to the pioneering activism of journalist Rose Kushner (1929-1990).

Is Hiring a Domestic Worker Dirty Business?

Twice a month, I have a “domestic worker” (no one says “cleaning lady” any more) come help at my house. By that I mean, she does all the tasks I stink at: removing the excess cat hair of three cats; de-griming the tub; and sweeping Cheerios from the bizarre places my two-year old drops them. Each time this woman comes, we sit for a little while, and share parenting stories and laugh. And even though I pay her well, I still feel guilty when she comes. Is there some reason I can’t manage to clean my own home? Am I spoiled?

Topics: Labor, Mothers

Mikveh and workers' rights

Reading last Friday’s Forward, I was struck by the juxtaposition of two articles about the Conservative movement Rabbinical Assembly’s Committee on Law and Standards.

Fashion and feminism

Kate Goldwater, a former JWA intern, has a new venue to express her feminism: her own clothing store, AuH2O. Kate makes her own line of clothes from recycled garments, which she restyles. Many of her pieces have a political message, such as her “Reproductive Freedom Fighter” dress and the “I am a Feminist” tank top – both of which convey the message that being sexy and political are not mutually exclusive.

The Next Generation's Culture

by JL

This week, I attended a conference sponsored by the National Foundation for Jewish Culture on young adults, culture, and Jewish engagement. The conference was based on their study Cultural Events and Jewish Identities on the social and cultural fusion of young unaffiliated Jews ages 25-35 in New York City.

As a young engaged Jew who falls on the fringe of the young adults defined by the study (I’m only 23), I was intrigued to find out more about the report.

Topics: Judaism

Tikva Frymer-Kensky, Z"L

It’s been a couple of weeks since the feminist biblical scholar Tikva Frymer-Kensky passed away, and I find myself returning to her work as a way of honoring her memory. I didn’t know her well, but I have learned a great deal from her writing (particularly Reading the Women of the Bible and Motherprayer) and have used her scholarship in my own teaching.

Ms. JewSA

by JL

This day, sixty one years ago, Bess Myerson was the first (and so far, only) Jewish woman, to be crowned Miss America.

Ephron’s book: funny truth or big-time set-back?

Nora Ephron’s new book I Feel Bad about My Neck is causing quite the stir. Here we are at a time when Oprah is claiming that 50 is the new 40, women’s magazines are focusing on the beauty of self-confidence over taut skin, and women past menopause are openly discussing their sexuality. Then, wham!, Ephron comes and claims this is bull****.

Topics: Non-Fiction

Labor Day

It’s Labor Day Weekend, which for some reason in this country is a time to barbeque, shop, and maybe spend one last weekend at the beach. Labor Day has come to mean the end of summer, rather than a day to consider and celebrate the role of workers in building and sustaining this country.

Topics: Labor, Unions, Law

A Filmmaker, a Rabbi, and Iraq

by JL

This week, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences honored the first Iranian Jew with an Emmy. She also happens to a woman—Lila Yomtoob. The Forward profiles Lila today, noting that her award is for working as a sound editor on the HBO documentary "Baghdad ER." The film follows the daily lives of doctors, nurses, soldiers, medics, and chaplains working in the U.S. Army's Baghdad medical facility in Iraq's Green Zone.

Katrina's Jewish Voices

by RP

As I’m sure you all know, today is the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. It’s hard to believe it’s already been a year.

Topics: Memoirs

Happy Women's Equality Day!

Today is the 86th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment, which granted American women the right to vote. It took women activists 72 years to win the federal right to vote, and it was a hard battle, filled with many setbacks and contentious disagreements about ideology and strategy.

Plan B

by JL

On this weekend twenty six years ago, women paraded down New York's Fifth Avenue to mark the tenth anniversary of Women's Strike for Equality and the sixtieth anniversary of the women's right to vote.

Guilty of Jewish Guilt

I’ve never been to Israel. There, I said it. When I was a bratty teen who turned my back on all things religious, it was a point of pride. A badge that said I was too cool for exploring my encumbering heritage. Now it’s a source of embarrassment.

How could I have worked in the Jewish community for three years and not have set foot in the Holy Land? How could I be a 37-year-old woman proud of my Jewish identity and not have experienced the place Jews call home?

An urban activist

When Jane Jacobs died earlier this year, we heard a lot about her urban activism to save neighborhoods from the destruction of a proposed Lower Manhattan Expressway. (We at JWA, by the way, learned as we researched a memorial piece on Jacobs that, contrary to popular belief, she was not Jewish). Friday’s Forward has a great article about a woman named Lillian Edelstein, whose own urban activism preceded Jacobs’.

Still a ways to go

Tanya is one of my closest friends. We’ve known each other since we were 15, and it’s fair to say that we know each other better than our husbands probably ever will (okay, not in all ways). We have an arsenal of inside jokes, and a language that’s our own.

When Tanya told me last week that she does not consider herself a feminist, I was extremely surprised. Tanya is smart, liberal, independent, and gets totally ticked off when anyone is treated unfairly, especially her woman friends.

Topics: Feminism

Sex Wars

It’s the story of an immigrant struggling to survive economically in the big city, a woman running for president, a crusade against pornography and birth control, a decades-long debate on how to achieve political equality for women.

G.I. Adi

by JL

I am a 23 year old Jewish female, born and raised in the U.S. Until this point in my life, I thought I had a fair amount of responsibility—I went off to college hundreds of miles away from home and moved into an equally far away home of my own after graduating to begin a career. Yet, in contrast to my fellow female Israeli counterparts in their 20s, the responsibility on my shoulders pales in comparison.

Topics: Israel, Military

Gowns for My Daughter

My daughter Risa is turning two next week. When my mother, a Jewish feminist who went to law school at age 40, asked me to accompany her to a toy store to pick a gift, I agreed. She asked me what Risa enjoyed most these days, and I admitted “dress-up.”

Making change, inside or out?

All week I’ve been fascinated by the reports of Catholic women being ordained as priests – 12 women were ordained on a boat outside of Pittsburgh on Monday (these “irregular” ordinations take place on rivers, which are beyond archdiocese jurisdiction), and last week another secretly ordained woman priest “came out” about her ordination and resigned from her position in the Archdiocese of Boston.

Peace in the Middle East and Unicorn Rides

As Israel resumes air strikes against Lebanon, after a brief pause of bombing, most of us are left wondering if peace in the Middle East is as possible as catching a unicorn ride to Narnia. And yet, as Israeli novelist A.B. Yehoshua recently put it, “I can be a pessimist for myself, but I have to be optimistic for [my grandchildren]. I have to keep the spirit.”

Who makes the Jewish future?

We may be known for our long and rich past, but I think it’s fair to say that the Jewish community is obsessed with its future – think about the role of a term like “Jewish continuity” in American Jewish life. And we also like to talk. So it’s not a big surprise that so many conferences and programs – especially now, in the early years of a new millennium – have taken the Jewish future as their subject.

Topics: Feminism, Judaism

Getting Groped . . .and Busted

When I saw the footage of President Bush coming up behind German Chancellor Merkel and squeezing her shoulders, I have to say I was pretty horrified. Was it the most offensive thing I’ve seen Bush do? Not by a long shot. But the notion that he thought this was acceptable behavior was still disturbing. For many of us women, it also brought back a memory of having our space invaded by some jerky guy, being too surprised to do anything, and then regretting we hadn’t.

Seeking peace

For the past two weeks, I’ve been reading the news reports about the escalating violence in Israel and Lebanon with dread and despair. I am struck by how unavoidable the violence seems to be, and yet how unconstructive it is, destroying lives, homes, businesses, and hope, while sowing further seeds of hate.

Topics: Activism, Israel

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Jewish Women's Archive. "Blog." (Viewed on August 31, 2014) <http://jwa.org/blog>.

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