Lisa Batya Feld
Lisa Batya Feld has edited a wide range of websites and academic journals. She is excited to bring her deep sense of curiosity and love of language to her role as web content editor for the Jewish Women's Archive. She holds a BA in medieval studies from Bard College and an MFA in creative writing from Colorado State University. She is also a novelist, drawing her inspiration from history and folklore, stories of what was, what might have been, and what might yet be.
This Women’s History Month, the Jewish Women’s Archive is celebrating the thousands of Jewish women who have participated in activism and resistance in the United States. We all know the names of the most famous women who shaped these movements, from Gloria Steinem to Emma Goldman: the women with the megaphones, with the loud voices and stirring speeches, the women whose names made it into the history books. But one person alone can never make a movement.
After the profound depression and helplessness I felt on Friday, I woke up on Saturday energized and hopeful. As I got my coffee and walked to the train for the Women's March in Boston, I saw a multitude of pink pussy hats, rolled up signs, discreet pins. I felt like the whole city was part of something, that my people were all around me. I was delighted rather than upset by the many trains that passed my station, completely full, and grateful when the MBTA opened a fresh train on the maintenance track to handle the overflow.
There is a repeated scene throughout Hidden Figures in which Katherine Goble Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) types her name into the bylines of her reports only to be told that “computers” (most of whom are women) don’t author papers; she must erase her identity from her work. This scene helps explain why the contributions of Johnson and other women were forgotten for so long, but it also says something important about which stories, and whose contributions, we validate as part of our culture.
I was five when I saw Star Wars for the first time at my friend Danny’s house. We loved it so much that we spent the next two years playing games where we clambered up on rocks and swung down on tree branches like we were maneuvering through the Death Star together.
I admit, I am woefully late to the party on Supergirl. I tried the pilot episode when it came out last year and found it a little campy and contrived next to my usual superhero and science-fiction fare. And by the time I gave it another try, late in the season, most of the previous episodes weren’t available online anymore.
But to drum up enthusiasm for Season Two, Season One is finally available on Netflix, and bingeing it hasn’t just been a guilty pleasure, it’s pushed me to look at massive blind spots I still have in my assumptions about feminism and pop culture.
When my allies speak up, their voices can reach people who don’t want to listen to me, but who are willing to listen to someone more like themselves. And more than that, when my allies speak out, they make it clear that my issues matter to them, that I matter to them. I want to pass that on.
As we enter an election cycle that promises to be intense and potentially groundbreaking, the Jewish Women’s Archive is looking to collect your stories about elections. Some possible topics you might explore include:
In my job as staff writer for the Jewish Women’s Archive, I write short profiles about historical and living women. Each one is fascinating—and each presents its own challenges. Are there reliable sources I can use, or do I have to sift through puff pieces? If the only information I can find about someone is a résumé, how do I create some sort of throughline that turns those bullet points into a human story? And hardest of all, if each profile is just 200 words, how do I decide what to include and what to cut?
This has been a lousy week for feminists of all ages. The longstanding tensions between second- and third-wave feminists have been boiling over as the old guard claims that younger women mistakenly think feminism is a thing of the past, that we’re distracted by other causes, that we don’t understand the importance of having the first woman president.
As the news is flooded with reports of refugees fleeing Syria, we have found ourselves remembering a very different Syrian refugee crisis: the mass exodus of persecuted Jews from that country from the 1970s through 2001. I recently spoke with Judy Feld Carr, who arranged 3,228 of those rescues by forging passports, bribing officials, and arranging for individuals and families to be smuggled across the border. What’s amazing about her story is that Judy wasn’t a Special Forces commando or a human rights lawyer; she had no background in this type of work.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Lisa Batya Feld." (Viewed on March 27, 2017) <https://jwa.org/blog/author/lisa-batya-feld>.