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A Feminist Hanukkah

Hanukkah is eight days long—a perfect amount of time to express your feminist values! I’ve compiled a list of Jewish, feminist-themed activities for Hanukkah—one for each day of the holiday. To be clear: these activities should be part of your life for the rest of the year, too! But sometimes it’s easy to fall behind, so without further ado, here is your recommended feminist Jewish agenda for this holiday:

DAY ONE: Start by reading up on the oft-overlooked heroine of the Hanukkah story, Judith. While you’re at it, read through JWA’s collection of other badass women named Judith. Some of our favorites are Judith Butler, gender theorist and activist, Judith Kaplan Eisenstein, the first Jewish girl to have a public bat mitzvah, and of course, Judith Rosenbaum, the fearless and fabulous director of JWA.

DAY TWO: Dedicate the day to self-care and celebrating your body! Explore the website of the amazing organization At The Well as a great place to start. Check out their stories and poems about sexuality and menstruation—all framed through a feminist, Jewish lens—and treat yourself. Take a listen to our podcast with author and activist Jacqueline Friedman about curly Jewish hair. Or, watch Kissing Jessica Stein for a feminist movie experience. Whether it’s battling stigma around periods or simply wearing an outfit that you feel incredible in, all forms of self-love should be on the table today. (And every day.)

DAY THREE: The holiday season inevitably means hunting for gifts and stressing over purchases. Today, support female-owned businesses and buy your friends and family presents while also helping women break barriers in industry. I recommend starting at stores like Bulletin, Lola, or Flora Stationery. Or, you could also take a look JWA’s online shop, which sells items like Bella Abzug tees and Emma Goldman posters.

DAY FOUR: As the JWA communications intern, I like to think it’s a pretty unique place. But did you know there’s an organization across the pond that also goes by the name JWA? Meet the Jewish Women’s Aid. Located in Britain, this extremely worthwhile cause provides counseling and a safe place for women facing domestic abuse. In the spirit of the #MeToo movement, take today to educate yourself on some of the many incredible organizations that support victims. Journey to Safety is one that provides aid to Jewish survivors of domestic violence, and The Interfaith Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence advocates for legislation that addresses violence against women, both in the form of domestic abuse in American abuse and violence towards women internationally.

DAY FIVE: Focus today on learning all about intersectionality, essential to practicing inclusive feminism and activism. Listen to Kimberle Crenshaw, the woman who coined the term, intersectionality, by watching this Ted-Talk. Educate yourself on the intersecting struggles of women of color, women in the LGBTQ+ community, and women of different religions by picking up books such as Stone Butch Blues by LGBTQ+ activist Leslie Feinberg, Woman, Native, Other by Vietnamese filmmaker and writer Trinh T. Minh-ha, or Bad Feminist by writer and activist Roxane Gay.

DAY SIX: Today, browse through JWA’s vast archive of awe-inspiring Jewish women from all eras and find your namesake! I myself have enjoyed learning all about iconic Abbys of the world, including Abby Shevitz, an advocate for HIV and AIDS patients, and Abigail Van Buren, who was behind a wildly popular advice column called “Dear Abby.”

DAY SEVEN: Make today all about intergenerational conversations. Specifically, make time to consider the perspectives of Jewish women both young and old. Read JWA’s Rising Voices Fellows’ thought-provoking pieces—these teenage changemakers’ articles cover everything from Eve Ensler to the biblical tales of Bilhah and Zilpah. Afterwards, read interviews of badass elderly women by Susan Goodman through Acting Our Age, an organization seeking to battle ageism and promote the wisdom of the elderly.

DAY EIGHT: Seven days after educating yourself about Hanukkah heroine Judith, channel your inner biblical heroine for the last day of Hanukkah. By that, I don’t mean you should go around decapitating corrupt kings (although, for me, attending an anti-Trump protest is always a good idea!). Instead, use the last day of the Festival of Lights to spread kindness. Compliment a coworker on their sweater. Tell your female friends how powerful they are. As you light the final candle of the Hanukkah, let it serve as a reminder to spread that same brightness and energy to those around you.

Chag sameach!

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"Judith Slaying Holofernes" by Artemisia Gentileschi, circa 1614-20
Full image

Judith Slaying Holofernes by Artemisia Gentileschi, circa 614-20. Oil on canvas. 158.8 cm × 125.5 cm.

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How to cite this page

Richmond, Abby. "A Feminist Hanukkah ." 11 December 2017. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on October 22, 2018) <https://jwa.org/blog/eight-days-of-feminist-hanukkah>.

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