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Rising Voices

Learn more about the Rising Voices Fellowship, JWA's thought-leadership program for female-identified teens.
Rising Voices Fellow Noam Green at the People's Climate March Cropped

Moving Past My Passivity

by Noam Green

I was a relatively passive preteen. I was stuck in this mentality that my life wasn’t really going to start until I was older, that everything until then was just filler. Looking back at it now, I can acknowledge the internalized adultism that clouded my perception of the world, but am still regretful of this period of stagnation in my life. 

"Grease" Rehearsal

Is Grease Sexist?

by Elisabeth Eigerman

I once told a friend of mine that I think Grease is horribly sexist because the plot is basically: girl changes herself to get the guy. He responded, “I always thought it was her throwing off negative social norms. It’s not like the whole goody two shoes thing was good.” His sentiments versus my own are the crux of the argument about whether Grease is a sexist movie, or one that supports feminist ideals. 

Topics: Feminism, Schools, Music, Film
Drawing of a Prince and Princess

The Princess Tried

by Rana Bickel

My favorite movie [The Princess Bride], though strikingly Jewish, is not particularly feminist. It’s not just that it doesn’t pass the Bechdel test (because let’s be real how many movies do?), it’s because the female protagonist, Buttercup, is seemingly incapable of doing anything on her own. 

Topics: Film
Tyra Banks

America's Next Top Sell-out

by Maya Franks

Tyra Banks. What comes to mind when you hear that name? For you, maybe a middle-aged woman who has been riding a franchise for too long. However, what comes to mind for me is a strong, African American woman who has had a wildly successful career, first as a model, and more recently as one of the creators and judges on the TV show, America’s Next Top Model. ANTM originally was intended to humanize the modeling career, however, as of recent, it has done nothing but the polar opposite.

A Red Rose

My Beef with the Bachelor

by Ariela Basson

This winter, Ben Higgins graced our TV screens once again in his search for love on ABC’s hit reality show, The Bachelor. As an avid (yet ashamed) Bachelor viewer, I’ve been thinking about everything wrong with this show. From the degrading one-sided relationships, to what is expected of the women on the painfully cheesy dates, there are so many things wrong with this show; and don’t even get me started with the lack of diversity! 

Topics: Television
"Girlfriends" Movie Poster

Letting go of Woody Allen with the help of Claudia Weill

by Noam Green

Woody Allen’s name is synonymous with New York City Jewry and avant-garde art; he is the poster boy for the guilt ridden, philosophically burdened, emotionally stunted kvetcher that we are all familiar with. Allen’s characters are recognizable—carrying pieces of our relatives, our community members, and ourselves. Annie Hall, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Manhattan, and Fading Gigolo, to name a few, place a strong emphasis on Jewish culture and idiosyncrasies, connecting to both a broad, general audience, that responds to the novelty, and to the specific tastes of Jews.

Topics: Film
Pride and Prejudice, 2005 Film

Elizabeth Bennet, Feminist Killjoy

by Sarah Groustra

I became a full-blooded Janeite when I read Emma as a twelve year old, shortly followed by Austen’s classic, Pride and Prejudice, a few months later. I was captivated by a world of lavish parties, grand estates, and husband-material men who make five thousand a year

Topics: Feminism, Film, Fiction
Jennifer Lawrence in "Joy"

The ‘Miracle Mop’ Can’t Wring Out Dated Stereotypes

by Eliana Gayle-Schneider

Joy is a cute movie, to say the most. Jennifer Lawrence’s character, Joy Mangano, is a housewife who strives to become a businesswoman despite the men in her life advising her against it. On the surface, this is a powerful story about  a woman coming into her own; a working class woman in the late 80s who moves beyond her meager station in life to make a name for herself. 

Scene from Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" Cropped

Hail Caesar! - A Movie (Obviously) by White Men

by Delaney Hoffman

I wrote my most important college admissions essay about The Big Lebowski. This is probably less indicative of my commitment to higher education, and more indicative of my unabashed love of the unstoppable film duo that is The Coen Brothers. 

Topics: Film
Barbra Streisand in What's Up, Doc?

Unlearning Silence in What’s Up, Doc?

by Caroline Kubzansky

For all that I am the outspoken, proud nerd in my school life, for all that I try to speak up for my views and ask questions in academic settings, for all that I am confidently liberal in conservative settings— I am distinctly self-conscious about all of it. 

Topics: Feminism, Comedy, Film
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The Feminist Force Awakens

by Gabrielle Cantor

On December 17, I joined millions of people around the world in a line. Now this was no ordinary line. In front of me stood Chewbacca, and behind me several Stormtroopers waited patiently. This was the line to see the latest and possibly greatest movie in the Star Wars saga, The Force Awakens. That evening, I joined fans both young and old in delighting in the marvels of another world. I lost myself in the journey of Rey and Finn, cheering for their victories and crying at their defeats.

The White House

Why I Fell in Love with The West Wing

by Hani Fish-Bieler

The West Wing is, in my opinion, one of the greatest TV shows of all time. It’s the perfect balance of seriousness and comedy, with enough storylines to keep you interested but not too many to get confused. It’s intellectual, but totally engaging. The characters are witty and lovable. I could go on about my love of The West Wing for hours. And I wouldn’t be done.

"Legally Blonde" Movie Poster

Is Elle Woods a Feminist?

by Abby Richmond

Elle Woods was one of my favorite heroines growing up, and I was not only in love with her sparkly outfits, but also with her fiery personality. It had been a couple years since I had watched the movie, but I caught myself thinking about Elle’s story as I walked around Harvard Square with my friend a few weeks ago. So, I decided to watch Legally Blonde again. 

Topics: Feminism, Film, Law
The Genderqueer Pride Flag

We’re Not In Oxford Anymore

by Caroline Kubzansky

I am one of the biggest grammar freaks that I know. I proudly count myself as a “soldier of the subjunctive,” and I find cartoons about comma placement to be hilarious-- so it may come as a surprise that I was excited when The American Dialect Society voted an ”incorrect” use of English to be the defining word of 2015. The word in question? The singular “they.” 

A Sampling of Netflix's Stand-up Comedy Offerings

Netflix and No-Chill?

by Delaney Hoffman

I am the funniest person I know. Out of all of the aspects of my identity, my sense of humor is probably my favorite. I say my jokes loudly; I laugh at the things I say even if nobody else does. Shari Short asserts in her article, "Jewish Funny", that humor is a common ground for Jews. Self-deprecation and sprinklings of Yiddish go a long way when identifying fellow members of the Tribe by jokes alone. 

Topics: Television, Comedy
Miss America Pageant, 2014

Pageant Problems

by Abby Richmond

Bess Myerson, the one and only Jewish Miss America, was crowned winner in 1945. Jordyn Rozensky’s 2013 JWA blog post, Here She Comes….Miss America, discusses the influence Myerson had on America and on the Jewish community following her big win. Myerson was the first Jewish woman to win the pageant, and she experienced significant antisemitism as a result. Despite these challenges, Myerson channeled her fame into doing good—she became active with the Anti-Defamation League and launched a successful political career. 

Topics: Feminism, Television
United Synagogue Youth (USY) Convention

Where Have All the Boys Gone?

by Elisabeth Eigerman

As soon as anyone tries to say that feminism is about women’s rights alone, someone pops up and points out that it’s a movement about equality.  But if that person then turns around and says that men are inherently sexist or that men cannot be victims of sexism, they contradict themselves.  Sexism towards men is real. It’s a parent telling their son, “big boys don’t cry.”  It’s a boy feeling unable to ask for help because he’s afraid of being perceived as weak. 

B'nai Jacob Synagogue

Come, Join Us

by Hani Fish-Bieler

I remember my excitement upon hearing about Yeshivat Maharat’s  ordination of women. As a supporter of female Jewish leadership in all of its forms, I was thrilled at the idea. Evidently, Jessica Cavanagh-Melhado, a contributor to JWA’s blog, felt the same way. In June 2013, she wrote a piece entitled, We Begin to Become a Multitude. In the piece, she describes her experience attending the first ever ordination of women as open Orthodox female spiritual leaders. 

Rising Voices Fellow Gabi Cantor Celebrating Halloween as a Child

I’m Not A Princess Anymore

by Gabrielle Cantor

The world of Jewish women seems to be divided on the J.A.P. issue. Is it a positive term? Or is it a harmful one that reinforces negative stereotypes? In her article, Reclaim the J.A.P. ,for JWA’s blog, Alana Kayfetz argues that while most connotations of J.A.P. are harmful, we as Jewish women should work to redefine the term as follows: a J.A.P. is a  powerful woman who is confident and willing to work hard to get what she wants. 

Topics: Feminism, Children
Rising Voices Fellow Ariela Basson

An Open Letter to “Good Feminists”

by Ariela Basson

In her November 2013 post for JWA’s blog, Marissa Harrington-Verb wrote about the challenges and critiques her mother faced with regard to her attachment parenting. Many people, including women, would critique Marissa’s mother for her very involved approach to parenting. Ultimately, Marissa argued that feminism is the freedom to make a choice. I could not agree more with Marissa’s point. 

Topics: Feminism, Children
Mechitza

Orthodox Feminism

by Rana Bickel

A lot of people leave Orthodoxy because of the sexism. Honestly, it’s really hard to stay. Being a teenager with friends who are all forming their identities, I struggle with this a lot. Many of my friends are leaving the movement because they are tired of tirelessly fighting, enduring, and never being equal. 

Performance of Elizabeth Swados' "Sosua" at the United Nations General Assembly

Dare to Dance Together: 1940, 2011, and Today

by Eliana Gayle-Schneider

Tony nominated playwright Elizabeth Swados raised our consciousness; she opened our eyes and dared us all to dance. Swados gave much to the world: theater, the gift of herself, one who constantly seeks truth and justice, and a strong female leader. Liz Swados also impacted my life in a very personal way- she taught me the meaning of community. 

Topics: Holocaust, Dance, Theater
Excerpt from the Amidah

Holy Glass Ceiling

by Sarah Groustra

On June 13th, 2013, three women graduated from the Yeshivat Maharat and were ordained with the title of maharat, or female spiritual leader. Even then, the Rabbinic Counsel of America (RCA) refused to recognize these women as part of the Orthodox Rabbinate. This is a two steps forward, one step back situation. 

"Children Dancing in a Ring"

Can Jewish Pluralism Be Salvaged?

by Noam Green

Every Thursday, the Jewish Standard, a community newspaper catered to the diverse North Jersey and Rockland County Jewish populations, is delivered to my house just in time for Shabbat. When I was younger, I used to look forward to its arrival. I would straighten out the pages and perch on the couch like the adults I saw on television, immersing myself in the cultural happenings of my local Jewish community. 

Malala Yousafzai

Malala's Mission

by Ariela Basson

As a child, I would play “school.” I would pretend to be the teacher, and my siblings and stuffed animals were my students. Although it was a curriculum based on Barbies and Legos, I was attracted early on to sharing my knowledge. It was rewarding to stand in front of the “class,” lecture, and ask questions. 

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