I've been loving the coverage of Elena Kagan's youthful challenge of her rabbi over her right to have a bat mitzvah. I love it because it confirms what I've always believed -- that the chutzpah of young girls is not just pre-teen attitude but a sign of inner strength and a harbinger of great things to come (and I say this not only in a self-serving way as a former obnoxious girl-child or as the mother of a burgeoning one).
Yesterday I celebrated Mother's Day in an unusual way. Instead of the traditional "early bird" dinner with my extended family, I traveled to New York City for a reunion of Jewish feminist matriarchs: the founders of Ezrat Nashim. I was invited to this gathering as a daughter of the movement to present a reflection on Jewish feminism today.
When a people have been around as long as the Jews, they have to be pretty good at renewing and re-imagining traditions in ways that feel authentic and also relevant. How else can rituals, practices, and beliefs survive the changes of time and place? It's a fine balance that is nicely captured in the term "old-new"--used, for example, in Theodore Herzl's Zionist novel about the "Old-New Land."
One hundred years ago, the German socialist Clara Zetkin originated International Women's Day to coordinate women's demands around the world. Zetkin, who proposed this new holiday at the 1910 second International Conference of Working Women, was inspired by the power and organization of women labor activists -- many of whom were Jewish -- who had provoked sweeping changes in the garment industry in the 1909 Uprising of the 20,000. In March 1911, the first International Women's Day brought out more than 1 million women and men to demonstrate for women's rights to work, vote, and serve in public office.
On Sunday afternoon, twelve women sat around a table at the sunny education center of Mayyim Hayyim, in Newton, Mass. Each of us clutched -- gently, lovingly -- a few old photos, sepia-toned, worn at the edges. These photos held pieces of our history, and as many questions as answers.
Today is the 37 anniversary of the Supreme Court's legalization of abortion in the Roe v. Wade decision, and as such, it's also NARAL's 5th annual Blog for Choice Day. The question NARAL has posed for this year is "What does Trust Women mean to you?" And I've chosen to answer this as historians do best -- by dipping into the archives for a story about Jewish women and reproductive rights that goes back much farther than 1973.
These last several weeks, I (like other JWA bloggers) have walked around in a haze of frustration, rage, and despair over politicians' apparent blindness to the centrality of women's health to national health. As a historian, I can attest that as goes women's health, so goes the health of the nation.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. " Judith Rosenbaum ." (Viewed on December 10, 2016) <https://jwa.org/blog/author/judith-rosenbaum>.