JWA News Release: September 25, 2003
Let Our Voices Be Heard Throughout the Land
Jewish Women's Archive Brings Together 14 of the Finest Female Scholars in the Field of American Jewish Studies to Offer Programs to Organizations Across the Nation
BROOKLINE, MA, Sep 25, 2003—14 nationally renowned scholars in American Jewish history will headline programs celebrating the 350th anniversary of the founding of the first Jewish community in North America. Dr. Gail Twersky Reimer, Executive Director of the Jewish Women's Archive, announced that the scholars will serve on JWA's Speakers Bureau "Let Our Voices Be Heard Throughout the Land," which is available to local organizations planning 350th anniversary events.
"This initiative is extremely important to JWA's goal of making sure that women's voices are heard during the commemoration," said Reimer. "The role that Jewish women have played in the history of this nation has gone unrecognized far too long. This is our opportunity to redress that wrong."
The scholars have developed over 40 topics of interest that an organization or institution can choose from as the basis of an informative and meaningful program to commemorate the anniversary. Topics range from the Lower East Side to the California Gold Rush. The gathering of these outstanding scholars and their topics itself makes a powerful statement about the vitality and centrality of women's shaping presence in American Jewish life.
JWA's theme for 2004 is "350 years of Jewish Women Building Communities in North America." In addition to the Speakers Bureau, JWA programs for the 350th anniversary include:
- A curriculum for middle school students
- Discussion guides to be used by organizations and institutions of selected films and books about American Jewish women
- An oral history "how to" as a helpful tool to uncover history
- Research grants to scholars to look at Jewish women's roles building communities in Denver, Dallas/Fort Worth, San Francisco, Chicago, Nassau County NY, and Vancouver British Columbia
- A calendar of 365 facts-of-the-day relating events in American Jewish women's history on the dates that they occurred throughout the year
JWA's website jwa.org will serve as a resource for organizations and institutions to develop their own programs and share them with others. JWA will also produce several special events during the celebration including:
- An exhibit, film series, and panel discussion at the Boston Public Library
- An exhibit at the Jewish Museum of Maryland in Baltimore of artworks based on oral histories collected by JWA
- A panel discussion at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC on the meaning of American Jewish women's history
The Jewish Women's Archive (JWA) is a national, nonprofit organization that employs a combination of approaches to its work, from online exhibits to community-based oral history projects to public programs and events. JWA provides scholars, individuals, organizations and institutions with programs and resources that uncover, chronicle, and transmit the rich legacy of North American Jewish women. Founded in Boston, Massachusetts in 1995, JWA was one of the first organizations in the Jewish community to stake a claim in the new frontier of the web, and continues to innovate in its use of the virtual world for academic, cultural, archival and educational purposes. JWA's award-winning website, jwa.org, has the most extensive collection of material on American Jewish women on the web. JWA has become a leading advocate for and center of education in Jewish women's history, ensuring that we remember the women who came before us, honor the women among us, and inspire those who will follow us. For more information go to jwa.org.
About the 350th anniversary
In September 1654 twenty-three people, including women, men and children, landed in New Amsterdam to form the first Jewish settlement in North America. Individual Jewish men, had lived and worked on the continent previously, but 1654 marked the first time that the presence of women and children made it possible to create a community that could have both a rich present and a future. The official commemoration for the event will begin in September 2004 and run through June of 2005. JWA will serve as a coordinator and catalyst for programs focused on women and their contributions. For more information or to sign up for updates about 350th activities go to jwa.org/discover/350years/.
JWA has formed a 350th Celebration Honorary Committee of accomplished women in varied fields in support of these initiatives which includes writer and poet Adrienne Rich, Rabbi Sally Priesand, singer and performer Barbra Streisand, Senator Dianne Feinstein, historian Gerda Lerner, and many others.