Art, liberation, ritual, the environment. For Jewish eco-feminist artist, Helene Aylon, these are the unifying elements of her life's work. In celebration of Earth Day, I've been re-exploring some of her ground-breaking work and realizing that we need more of it!
With Passover fast approaching, now is a perfect time to think about the many roles of courageous women in historical and contemporary quests for freedom.
As a start, check out the Jewish Women's Archive's resource on Jewish midwives which highlights Shifra and Puah, two women who play a critical part in the Exodus story through their acts of resistance in sparing the lives of Hebrew male babies born in Egypt.
Besides this piece being interesting as a documentary description of late 19th century life in London, it's fascinating for the writer's clear invocation of class issues, though that seems more a natural by-product of her own upper-class biases than a deliberate attempt to raise an explicit discussion about socioeconomic divisions between Jews.
"Imagine how much stronger Jewish organizations would be if women truly shared leadership with men," says Shifra Bronznick, co-founder of the national non-profit, Advancing Women Professionals and the Jewish Community (AWP). Wouldn't it be nice if we no longer needed to imagine this?
Cross-posted on Jewess. The beginning seems like a good place to begin our exploration of The American Jewess archives. The first issue of TAJ, from April 1895, proves to be varied in its area of coverage, likely reflecting the varied interests and education of its intended readers. And that 19th century language sure is something!
Filmmaker Michal Goldman's At Home in Utopia is a new documentary that traces the history of these "Bronx utopias," focusing on the United Workers Cooperative Colony, or simply "The Coops."
New Feature: "The American Jewess" on Jewess and Jewesses With Attitude ... Or, Happy 113th Birthday, TAJ!
Today marks the 113th anniversary -- centennial + bat mitzvah! -- of the launch issue of The American Jewess, the first English-language publication directed to American Jewish women.
Today is the tenth anniversary of the death of Bella Abzug, activist extraordinaire. With her big hats and even bigger charismatic personality, her sharp mind and even sharper tongue, Bella took on the world and changed it. As a young girl, she spoke on street corners for Hashomer Hatzair, the socialist Zionist youth movement. As a young lawyer in the 1950s, she took on civil rights causes in the atmosphere of McCarthyism. As a mother and activist, she fought for a nuclear-free world with Women Strike for Peace.
"And you shall write them on the doorposts of your ... spaceship?" Jewish artist, Laura Cowan, has been making space-travel themed mezuzot for years. She was taken by surprise, however, when she received a call from American Jewish astronaut, Greg Chamitoff, asking if he could bring two of her rocket-inspired ritual objects into outer space.
"The life of men and women is so cheap and property is so sacred! There are so many of us for one job it matters little if 146 of us are burned to death. I know from my experience it is up to the working people to save themselves, and the only way is through a strong working-class movement."
As those of you who read my posts know, I like nothing more than to talk about activists who have changed our world. And my interest in this aspect of our history, of course, is due to my own desire to effect change and to inspire others to do so as well.
A woman riding a bicycle in full Victorian dress doesn't freely associate with being Jewish …except in the case of Annie Cohen Kopchovsky (who adopted the decidedly less ethnic name of "Annie Londonderry"). In courageous, chutzpah-like ways, Annie -- a Jewish immigrant living in Boston in June 1894 -- shattered the social conventions of her time.
I first "met" Barbara Seamen through my dissertation research. Reading her books about women’s health and her personal archives, I encountered a woman who was prescient, outspoken, and brave. At a time when most feminists celebrated the wonders of the Pill, which freed sex from reproduction, Seaman investigated its costs to women’s health, publishing her first book, The Doctors’ Case Against the Pill, in 1969.
On February 21, 1942 (sixty-six years ago yesterday) Wanda Landowska -- a Warsaw-born Jewish musician with a mastery of the harpsichord -- made history with a performance of Bach's "Goldberg Variations" at New York's Town Hall. It was the first time in the 20th century that the piece, originally written for the harpsichord, was performed publicly on that instrument. A student of Landowska's later remembered that hearing her performance was "like being in front of one of the greatest wonders of nature."
A few years ago, I saw the Israeli film Sentenced To Marriage which documents the stories and experiences of agunot, Jewish women whose husbands refuse to grant them a get (divorce contract) leaving them as "chained wives." It was rather sobering to learn about these women (religious and secular alike) whose self-determination is trumped by oppressive men, and falls prey to the less-than-sympathetic judgments of the rabbinical high court.
Happy Adar, everyone. Get your costumes ready, give the groggers a preparatory whirl, and pre-heat your hamantashen-baking ovens, because Purim is coming! (Well, actually, not until next month, since this is a Jewish leap year, with two months of Adar).
I first heard the word "Refusenik" applied to Israelis who refuse to serve in the Israeli Defense Force. Then I heard it in relation to Jewish citizens of the former Soviet Union who were refused permission to emigrate. I learned the word in a third context -- "Muslim Refusenik" -- a few years ago, when I heard Irshad Manji speak at my college. Ms. Manji is a Canadian lesbian Muslim feminist.
I spent the last week of December encamped in a Catskills hotel with about 425 klezmorim, dancers, artists, students, and lovers of Yiddish from around the world. We had gathered for the 23rd annual KlezKamp, a music and culture extravaganza organized by Living Traditions, a nonprofit dedicated to Yiddish cultural continuity and community. During the day, we took classes on everything from Hasidic dance to world Jewish foodways; at night, we danced to the newest and oldest in Ashkenazi music in the hotel ballroom with its famous gold lamè curtains.
My friends and I often talk about how our religious and activist identities interconnect when, at times, they seem to be at odds. I've been thinking about this while reading some of the essays in a provocative new anthology entitled Righteous Indignation: A Jewish Call for Justice.
Lately I’ve had bras on the brain. Having recently weaned my twins (and here I’m referring to actual babies, not euphemistically to my breasts themselves), I’m gearing up for one of the milestone moments in a mother’s life: buying new, regular, non-nursing bras. So I’ve been thinking about what bras mean in the life of a Jewish woman.
I watched the coverage of the New Hampshire primary last night, and in the wake of the Obama hype, meshed with harsh criticism and suspicion (unwarranted, in my opinion) about Hillary's display of emotion (a.k.a. humanness!) at a coffee shop in Portsmouth, I was impressed by -- and excited for -- Hillary's win.
Anyone who was charmed by Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing and Ferris Bueller's Day Off could not help but mourn the loss of Jennifer's face after her nose job, (and other facial re-constructions). What Grey thought to be "enhancements" only resulted in dried up acting gigs and disenchanted fans.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Blog." (Viewed on July 7, 2015) <http://jwa.org/blog>.