Looking over this program for the annual Women’s Festival at Queens College in New York that I helped to plan in the early l970s brought back the rush of exhilaration that I experienced during that time, as a member of the Women’s Collective. Feminism was exploding, illuminating my life with new ideas.
Feminism gave women the power to change the world, and the world was changing for women. We ranged across an extraordinary terrain – from politics to culture to family life – and there was no territory that our feminist imaginations and visions could not discover, recover, or transform.
Jewish feminism was more complicated for me. I loved Network’s first National Conference of Jewish Women at the McAlpin Hotel in 1973, and I dedicated myself to moving these issues forward in the Jewish world. But Jewish feminism always seemed more laborious and more constricting. And yet, at the same time, my commitment to Jewish feminism was a powerful calling that kept me returning again and again to my communal roots.
I lived in two parallel universes. As a feminist I expanded my consciousness. As a counterculture Jewish activist and Jewish feminist, I explored within, to discover my identity as a Jewish woman. My feminism went wide; my Jewish feminism went deep. Sometimes these roles have been in conflict. Sometimes they have converged.
Thirty years later, I continue to exist in these parallel worlds – emotionally, politically, and intellectually. Often I feel confident that feminism has truly changed the world – remaking the family, reshaping the relationships between men and women, expanding our notions of leadership, challenging the assumption that status derives from wealth and work, and opening every single field to women’s influence. Other times, I feel the weariness that comes from seeing the dirt under our fingernails as we labor to make some small plants grow in a garden that seems so far from Eden, where our huge efforts seem so disproportionate to our modest outcomes.
Still committed and still questioning: when will our women’s work become the work of the world?
Shifra Bronznick is the founder of Bronznick & Co., LLC, a change management firm that specializes in launching new initiatives, restructuring organizations, and developing programs for the not-for-profit sector. An expert in the field of leadership and women’s advancement, Bronznick is the founding President of “Advancing Women Professionals and the Jewish Community.” In collaboration with her client, , she launched the National Women’s Leadership Initiative and Impact & Influence, a summit for Jewish women volunteer leaders. Bronznick also designed the program for the White House Project’s National Women’s Leadership Summit, which convened the most influential women in business, government, not-for-profit, and academia in 2002 and 2003. Previously, Bronznick served as Executive Vice-President of Swig, Weiler & Arnow Mgt. Co., Inc., one of the premier commercial real estate firms in New York.
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