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Teach: Ideas from the Field - Using the 'Women of Valor' posters

These "Ideas From the Field," which use Women of Valor materials, were selected out of reports and evaluations submitted to the Jewish Women's Archive. It is our hope that these examples will inspire you to recreate and adapt them to your community's needs. We encourage you to send in your own tried and true programming ideas for inclusion in this section, or to comment, below.

Note: While some of the programs described below refer to "Jewish Women's History Week," we learned from you that it would be more helpful if we did not single out a particular week in March. Our goal is for you to have more flexibility when scheduling events.

Synagogues

  • Family Education Program: an Interactive Event—Karen Raizen, a teacher at McHenry Jewish Congregation in Spring Grove, Illinois created a Family Education Program for her synagogue, which focused on Lillian Wald, Emma Lazarus, and Molly Picon. She divided the room into three booth-like stations—one for each woman. Each booth offered families information and activities related to its respective Woman of Valor. For example, Lillian Wald's station was designed to represent what a lower east-side tenement might have looked like, in the time period in which she worked and lived. The families who visited Ms. Wald's booth were encouraged to make origami peace signs and cranes in her honor. At Emma Lazarus' station the visiting families were asked to illustrate and write poems about subjects such as peace and justice. At Molly Picon's station the organizers screened some of her films, during which time the children were encouraged to dress up like Picon. In Molly's booth there was also a Yiddish storyteller, whose stories entertained all who attended the event.
  • This Month On Oprah…—Congregation Beth Am in Wheeling Illinois got very creative with the Woman of Valor this year. Three group members were each assigned one of the three Women of Valor. The women dressed in costumes appropriate to their given time periods and participated in a "talk-show" presentation … Oprah style! They researched each of their characters, and prepared various questions for the interviewer. Information presented included background, contributions made, the women's impact on the world, and what role Judaism played in their lives. It was an opportunity to have some fun while sharing information with the congregation.
  • Feature the Women at Shabbat services—Beth Israel Sinai Congregation in Racine, WI held a special Shabbat service devoted to the topic of Jewish Women's History Week. It included readings, songs, and programs by women and about Jewish women. For the next month, a member of the congregation presented one of the three women featured in the Women of Valor materials during Friday night services.
  • Stage a Play—In Tom's River, New Jersey the synagogue's sisterhood honored Jewish women of the past and present with a Women of Valor theatre production. The program was designed for the younger population of the synagogue. Included in the play were the Women of Valor poster series, and short acted synopses of the Women of Valor's lives.
  • Host a Luncheon—Temple Beth Am in Rochester, New York created a Mother/Daughter Grandmother/Granddaughter luncheon to celebrate three of the Women of Valor. Candi Nelson, a member of the synagogue, read from the Women of Valor Resource Guide in order to educate the other members. The organizers focused on Bella Abzug and her contributions to the (female) Jewish community. The highlight of their program was when they presented four women from their synagogue with framed "Temple Beth Am's Women of Valor Certificates." Both men and women members nominated the women. The response to the program was so positive that the organizers have already scheduled a Women of Valor Tea Party for next year.

Adult Education

  • Create Personal Memory Boxes—Barbara Rosenblit from Atlanta paired up with artist Sheila Miller and led a group of a dozen women through a four-session course. Sponsored by the Atlanta Jewish Educational Services, the women went about not only studying the lives of the Women of Valor on the posters but also recognizing their own women of valor. The class culminated in the creation of "memory boxes" honoring women who had made an indelible mark on the participants. The contents of the memory boxes included a decorated hatbox, a teapot and a quilt.

Community Organizations

  • Create Curiosity with Public Art—In Manchester, New Hampshire, Sarah Denmark projected the images of the three of the Women of Valor through three large windows of the Federation/JCC building, which stands on a major boulevard. The images created intense curiosity and the Federation phones rang off the hook with people asking for more information on these women.

College Campuses

  • Complement other events with WOV materials—In Toronto, the Center for Jewish Studies at York University (the largest such program in the country) previewed the documentary The Natural Athlete and used the WOV materials to compliment the program. According to Professor Joe Levy, the group of college students (primarily not Jewish) found the materials "spectacular." Professor Levy again used the WOV materials with several hundred students from area day schools who came to the University for an orientation to the Center.
  • Host Cultural Events—University of Santa Barbara California Hillel hosted a week long series of events celebrating Jewish Women's History, including Shabbat dinner with a discussion about Eishet Chayil, hosting Gaby Lev's Theatre Company Jerusalem on "Esther," a Rosh Hodesh celebration where the women learn to play Mah Jaongg "like their grandmothers did", and a screening of the film Treyf produced by two Jewish lesbians who examine the Jewish identity of their upbringings and its impact of their lives.
  • Community-wide Rosh Chodesh Ceremony—The University of Arizona Hillel in partnership with the Women's Division of Federation sponsored a meaningful Rosh Chodesh celebration complete with ritual and learning. Intergenerational participants, through the posters and other resources, learned about the lives and accomplishments of three Women of Valor. The women read excerpts to each other about the Women of Valor and then engaged in conversations about their lives.
  • Brown-bag lunch seminars—At the Stanford University Hillel in Stanford, CA, Jewish Women's History Week was co-sponsored by Judaic Studies, Feminist Studies, and the Humanities Center. Brown-bag lunch seminars on issues pertaining to Jewish women's history were held thoughout the week in different campus centers and departments. The week culminated with a Shabbat dinner attended by more than 100 people.

Schools

  • Pop Quiz!—Ames Jewish Congregation Religious School in Ames, Iowa laminated the posters and put them in a central area in the school. One of the older classes was asked to come up with questions based on the women portrayed in the posters. The quiz was posted and the contest was announced and publicized in the school. Winners were awarded their prizes and their names posted.
  • "Virtual Access"—At the Yeshiva of Greater Washington in Silver Spring, MD, one student used the Women of Valor materials to construct a web site on Jewish Women's History. Featuring figures such as Lillian Wald and Rebecca Gratz, the web site supplied brief biographies and noted achievements of important Jewish women. It also created a link to jwa.org, the Jewish Women's Archive web site.
  • Create a Timeline—Grades three through six at Eliahu Academy in Louisville, KYcreated a timeline of American History aimed at filling the gaps in our history. Women of Valor materials were helpful in providing students and teachers with resources to begin filling in these gaps.
  • Incorporate materials into History Curriculum—The Solomon Schechter Day School in Skokie, IL incorporated the Women of Valor materials into their study of the American immigration period. Once a week, over 60 fifth graders visited their Learning Center to study the lives and time periods of Lillian Wald, Rebecca Gratz, and Molly Picon (all Women of Valor). Through reading, discussion, and creating beautiful collages, the students learned about these women in a hands-on, fun, and creative way. They also had the opportunity to examine JWA's online exhibit on the Women of Valor to see more extensive collection of photos and artifacts of these women.
  • School-wide celebration—The Jewish Community Day School in Newton, MA spent a month specifically integrating Jewish women into all aspects of their curriculum. The kindergartners researched their mothers, the first and second graders interviewed their grandmothers and the older classes investigated the lives and legacies of other important Jewish women. The month-long study culminated in a celebration at which the children presented their projects to each other and invited a speaker to give a talk about uncovering women's stories through archival research.
  • Create a Women's Awareness Week—Bialik High School in Montreal, QUE inaugurated its first ever Women's Awareness Week. The week-long celebration featuring guest lectures, assemblies and student presentations was a huge hit and received extensive coverage in the Montreal Gazette (a full-page color spread!).
  • Incorporate materials into school displays and publications—A memo was drafted and sent out at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, MD, which provided all the teachers at the school with suggestions on how to incorporate Jewish women into nearly every subject's curriculum (secular and religious). They created bulletin board displays of significant Jewish women and a library exhibition featuring books on Jewish women's issues and history; they provided a brief biography of a Jewish woman every day for a week in the school bulletin; and they put together a "Lunch and Learn Session" for students and faculty.
  • Incorporate materials into traditional text study—Park East Religious School in New York, NY held a celebration in honor of Jewish Women's history week that combined traditional text study with readings from the biographies of three Women of Valor. The event culminated with students receiving their own kiddush cups. A cake was decorated in honor of the event.
  • Classroom discussions and Invited Guests—Temple Shalom Religious School in Waterloo, ONT used the posters, information sheets, and discussion questions for classroom activited in grades 2–7. They then had a special storytelling session in which they invited parents and grandparents to tell stories they remembered about their mothers, grandmothers, and aunts.

Girls' and Women's Groups

  • Mother Daughter Conference—B'nai Brith Girls, the female component of the B'nai Brith Youth Organization North Star Region, created for the first time a Mind, Body, and Attitude Mother/Daughter Fair. The posters were hung around the room and a panel was invited to speak on "Timeless Wisdom from Remarkable Women." The two-day conference had as its theme: Become the Jewish Hero of your own Story. A panel of local women spoke about how they got where they are today, what obstacles they have overcome, and what it means to be a hero. The posters and information helped shape the discussions and exemplified Jewish women heroes for the mothers and daughters.
  • A New York State of Rhyme—Ma'yan: The Jewish Women's Project, the Jewish Community Center on the Upper West Side, and the Jewish Week partnered together to honor Woman of Valor Emma Lazarus. In celebration of the poet's 150th birthday, Jews spanning several generations shared an evening of poetry. The winning poems, all with themes of Jewish New York, were selected from more than 200 entries. The four winning poems were published in the New York Jewish Week.
  • A Passion for Justice: Continuing the Legacy of Justine Wise Polier—An evening public forum, sponsored by the Jewish Women's Archive in Boston, focused on the legacy of woman of valor Justine Wise Polier as carried on today by local Judge Nancy Gertner. Speakers made the connection between the challenges faced by a contemporary activist judge and those faced by Polier in her lifetime.
  • Pop Quiz!—Ames Jewish Congregation Religious School in Ames, Iowa laminated the posters and put them in a central area in the school. One of the older classes was asked to come up with questions based on the women portrayed in the posters. The quiz was posted and the contest was announced and publicized in the school. Winners were awarded their prizes and their names posted.
  • Famous Jewish Women Hall of Fame—Jewish Girl Scouts of Chaparral Council in Albuquerque, NM inducted Henrietta Szold and Rose Schneiderman into their Famous Jewish Women Hall of Fame. They studied the women, created their own posters on these and other Jewish women, and dressed up as the heroines they had researched at a celebratory event honoring Jewish women of achievement.

For more information or to share your own Ideas From the Field, please send us an email or call us at (617) 232-2258.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Teach: Ideas from the Field - Using the 'Women of Valor' posters." (Viewed on July 24, 2014) <http://jwa.org/teach/bestpractices/ideasfromfield>.

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