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Rising Voices

Learn more about the Rising Voices Fellowship, JWA's thought-leadership program for female-identified teens.

Inside of Quincy Market

My Power is My Privilege

Power and privilege have always played, and will continue to play, a very significant role in my life. As a biracial, Jewish woman, my life has always been complicated, and oftentimes, confusing. That being said, I acknowledge and know I have an incredible amount of privilege.

Milk Carton

Open Conversations and Dairy Products

“Where are you thinking about going to college?” I’ve been asked this question by almost everyone I know. It feels like after your bat mitzvah, there’s a second rite of passage that no one tells you about: college decisions. Since the winter of Junior year, every conversation seems to take a turn towards schools. The question, “How are you?” has been replaced with, “How are the applications coming?”

Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella, 1983

Rosalie Silberman Abella: The Canadian RBG

In my opinion, Abella has demonstrated intersectional feminism through her work as a legal advocate and supporter of civil rights for marginalized communities. Before her appointment to the bench, Abella was considered one of Canada's foremost human rights lawyers.

Ruby Russell in First Grade

Who Gets To Choose

In 2007, with long chestnut pigtails sprouting from the sides of my head, I attended my first day of kindergarten at a public school just outside of Boston. I was enrolled in what was called the Choice Program, an institution that four years later would implode with scandal.

Topics: Schools, Children
Gertrude Berg and Amy Sherman Palladino

Yoohoo...Mrs. Maisel!

Gertrude Berg and Amy Sherman Palladino are two women who have brought Jews to television in completely revolutionary ways; as funny, approachable characters who are incredibly dynamic and unapologetically Jewish.

Math Equations on a Chalkboard

Mind Your Own Business

My accelerated math class has nearly twice as many boys as girls. There are only five of us. I’m no stranger to a good mansplaining, or to feeling like an anomaly in a math bros club. While many interactions in Honors Precalc make me feel like a fish out of water, a comment like “mind your own business” really highlights just how different it is to be a girl in an advanced math class.

Emmy Noether and Martine Rothblatt

Female Heroes in STEM: Emmy Noether and Martine Rothblatt

Female leaders in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) are few and far between, and Jewish female role models in those fields are even harder to find. Emmy Noether and Martine Rothblatt are superheros whose hard work and intellect propelled them to defy the odds and make contributions to the world that will outlive them.

Abigail Glickman and Brother

Siblings in Different Voices

While my brother’s intention was to help me better clarify my writing, that isn’t what my mind told me in the moment. During our conversation, I became resentful of him, and doubtful of myself. I started to question the value of the ideas I wrote about, the ones that he claimed were too big and detached.

Topics: Family, Writing
Silhouette of a Girl

Fixing the Flaws in Perfection

Every “perfect girl” I have ever met has been so humble, that they can turn a compliment into self-deprecation. It is so unbearably heartbreaking to me that these girls who are so marvelous all don’t know how marvelous they are. But the truly terrifying truth is that their humility and self-consciousness seem to be an essential part of being the “perfect girl.”

Justine Wise Polier and Libby Schaaf

Governing with Valor

As the first woman Justice of New York, Polier valiantly worked to improve the family court, fought for the rights of children and poor families, and tirelessly lobbied to ease quotas on Jewish refugees. Libby Schaaf, the 52-year-old mayor of Oakland, California, also fights for the inclusion of all people.

2017 NYC Women's March

Gaping Ideologies at Whole Foods

I’ve spent my formative years in various liberal bubbles, shielded from the reality of a bigoted and unaccepting America. I’ve been fortunate enough to live in New York City, a progressive hub and notoriously accepting city, to spend five summers at Eisner Camp, a Reform Jewish camp where we often discuss gun violence prevention, and to attend the progressive Temple Shaaray Tefila my whole life.

Emma Goldman/Women of the Wall

Making Space Where There is None

To ask for the space you need is a daunting, terrifying task. But to take the space you need without permission? That’s even more challenging. Emma Goldman and Avigail Antman are two women who refused to settle for less, and who weren’t afraid to demand more. 

Word Collage

Dyslexia, the World, and Me

When I was five years old, I was diagnosed with dyslexia. My parents were told that I’d need extensive therapy in order to read and write. At five, I never thought I would read. I threw books on the ground and refused to even try. I would yell, “I don’t need to read! I hate reading!” over and over again.

Madison, Wisconsin

This is Not My Story

Besides its bike-friendly status, Madison also has a reputation for being incredibly liberal. You can’t go one block in Madison without spotting a Prius sporting a bumper sticker in support of a Democratic candidate. Often, Madison feels like an insulated left-leaning bubble within red Wisconsin.

Topics: Activism, Schools
Ruby Russell's Business Card

The Internet’s Girlfriend and the Power of the Business Card

Constricting suppositions about young women are nothing new. We’re “bored by academia,” “weak,” “hysterical,” “hormonal,” “boy crazy,” and “fashion-obsessed.” Of course, we teenage girls are sometimes hormonal, fashion-obsessed, and a little romance-crazy (as most teenagers are), but we are so much more than that.

Mind The Gap

Mind The Gap

I know that with every conversation I have with my friends, I will walk away with a stronger, more nuanced point of view, and hopefully they will too. When engaging in respectful discourse, my ideas become bigger, and my ignorance fades.

Lila Zinner in Fifth and Eleventh Grade

Reclaiming “Bossy”: How Sexism Shaped Who I Am

As a child, I was loud and outspoken. I prided myself on my intelligence and eagerness to learn; I truly had killer confidence. I told people I was going to be “the dictator of the world” when I grew up. But as time went on, it became increasingly apparent that the education system didn’t have room for a personality like mine. Well, at least when that personality belonged to a girl.

Girl Speak Event

Pressing “Post” on Speaking Up

Last winter, I created Girl Speak, an event-based organization built to foster education and action on issues affecting teenage girls as an answer to the calling I’d felt for years. When I first started labeling myself a feminist in middle school, I began searching for a way to become more engaged in social justice work and start making more of an impact on the world.

Topics: Feminism
Man and Woman Talking, Question Marks

Let’s Talk about the C-Word

While I can understand why some feminists want to reclaim this word, I personally believe it’s one of the vilest things you can say to or about someone. It’s indicative of our society’s contempt and disgust for the female sex.

Topics: Feminism
Emily Axelrod at L'Taken

Stirred and Spurred to Action

Judaism never seemed to offer anything that stoked my social justice fire. I didn’t hear many calls to action in services; partly because I wasn’t looking, and partly because services felt mundane to me.

Hannah Downing's Extended Family

Photographic Memory

I never paid much attention to our history when I was younger. I felt very disconnected from my Jewish past, as I had little grasp of what the Holocaust really was and what it meant to be Jewish, especially growing up in an area with few Jews.

Memorial at Tree of Life Synagogue

Rising Voices Fellows Respond to Pittsburgh

In the wake of the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue shooting, the 2018-2019 Rising Voices Fellows came together to reflect, respond, and call people to action. In these pieces you will find connection, sadness, outrage, courage, and compassion. You will find the strength of today’s teens who are growing up in an age of so much senseless gun violence.

The Personal is Political

Politically Personal: Personally Political

To me, being a feminist means working to achieve equity for all members of society, confronting personal bias, alleviating institutional sexism, and prompting others to do the same. There are so many ways feminism manifests itself in my life, but until freshman English class, I didn’t even think to consider one of the most significant ways that I’m involved in political feminism.

Topics: Feminism, Schools
Anti-Semitic Graffiti

May the Faith Be With You

Because I didn’t have support, because I felt alone, I didn’t confront my teacher about his words that day or about the lack of Holocaust education. I didn’t take a stand, either, when I found the words “JEW HUNTER” scrawled on the leg of a desk. Nor did I speak up when I found the same horrifying phrase on a different desk a few weeks later.

Ruby Russell at the Kotel

Am I Welcome at the Wall?

The first time I visited the Kotel (Western Wall), I cried. I know, this is nothing unusual. This historic place often invokes intense spiritual connection or deep reflection from its visitors, moving them to tears. I was certainly overcome by emotion, but for a completely different set of reasons.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Rising Voices." (Viewed on February 18, 2019) <https://jwa.org/blog/risingvoices>.

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