JWA News Release: February 13, 2004
Jewish Women's Archive Honors Unsung Local Heroes During Women's History Month
Brookline, MA, February 13, 2004—Transforming blighted urban lots into public parks; pioneering women's full participation in Jewish liturgy and ritual; preventing teen dating violence; providing research and medical care for people with AIDS: the four Boston-area women being honored by the Jewish Women's Archive this year as "Women Who Dared" have changed the lives of men and women inside and outside the Jewish community. These Jewish women activists, spanning eight generations, are being honored at the fifth annual Women Who Dared dinner on March 2nd, 2004 at Temple Mishkan Tefila in Newton MA, co-sponsored by the Jewish Women's Archive (JWA), Hadassah Boston and Women's Philanthropy at Combined Jewish Philanthropies.
The personal stories of these activists will become a permanent part of JWA's 2004 Women Who Dared web exhibit, at jwa.org/exhibits/wwd/. The web exhibit features in-depth interviews with the honorees, biographical information, and photographs.
The honorees are:
More than 40 years ago, Blocker paved the way for Conservative Jewish women's full participation in synagogue life. She was the first woman in her Newton Center, MA, congregation to participate in central aspects of synagogue ritual that had previously been the exclusive preserve of men. She has since brought hundreds of women along with her through the adult Bat Mitzvah classes she began teaching in 1976.
A survivor of teen dating violence, Chernin turned her traumatic experience into a commitment to preventing domestic and teen dating violence from happening to anyone. Currently a sophomore at Clark University, she has expanded her advocacy work to include one-on-one counseling with victims of domestic violence, as well as work in the courts as a victim advocate.
Faced with empty lots overrun with ragweed, filled with trash, and plagued by drugs and crime, Clarke raised over a million dollars and co-founded the Nonquit Street Neighborhood Association and Land Trust, Inc. with the motto "Fighting Crime With Flowers." The organization developed a public park in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood that features an original sculpture of a dragon created by Nancy Shön, the sculptor of "Make Way for Ducklings" in the Boston Public Garden.
When the AIDS epidemic hit, Dr. Shevitz was a medical resident at Boston City Hospital. She developed an AIDS curriculum for staff, and developed the first HIV testing protocol. Currently on the faculty of the Tufts University School of Medicine, she has spearheaded research into nutritional problems and lipodystrophy associated with HIV infection.
"These women are wonderful examples of Jewish women's daring and determination to make a difference," said Rachel Sagan, Director of Outreach at the Jewish Women's Archive.
"As part of the national celebrations of 350 years of Jewish life in North America," said JWA Executive Director Gail Twersky Reimer, "JWA is celebrating a 350 year history of Jewish women - women who built communities in the past, and women who are transforming our communities in the present."
The dinner will be held at 6:30 PM Tuesday, March 2, at Congregation Mishkan Tefila in Newton MA. Tickets cost $50.00, which includes dinner (dietary laws observed). Reservations are required. For more information or reservations contact the Jewish Women's Archive at (617) 232-2258.
Women Who Dared is a national program of the Jewish Women's Archive. This year JWA is co-sponsoring Women Who Dared events in several cities, including Chicago on March 17th 2004, and New Orleans on October 12th 2004. The program is partially funded by the Dorot Foundation in honor of Alice Shalvi and Deborah Lipstadt.
The Jewish Women's Archive (JWA) is a national, nonprofit organization based in Brookline, Mass. dedicated to uncovering, chronicling and transmitting the rich legacy of North American Jewish women. JWA sponsors exhibits and public programs, creates classroom materials, and runs oral history projects and community events. For the 350th anniversary of Jewish life in North America, being commemorated in 2004, JWA is serving as coordinator and catalyst for programs focused on women and their contributions. Many of our resources are available 24/7 on our award-winning website, jwa.org.