Rising Voices

Learn more about the Rising Voices Fellowship, JWA's thought-leadership program for female-identified teens.
Rachel by Joseph von Führich, 1836

Hannah's Ghost

by Eliza Bayroff

I love Hanukkah. Always have. Eight crazy nights of games, presents, impromptu dance parties to the songs of Jewish musical maestro Paul Zim, and examinations of a stack of illustrated children’s books about the holiday, among them one very special giant-sized coloring book. (When I tell you giant-sized, I mean the length and width of an average toddler.)

Latte

"You Are So Basic"

by Maya Sinclair

To many other girls, I am “basic.” I shop at J. Crew and I love Starbucks. I Instagram pictures of food and take selfies on Snapchat. Sometimes, I say things like “OMG I cant even,” and I eat at Chipotle. Despite this, whenever someone calls me “basic” and I ask why, they always point to the clothes I wear.

Yana Kozukhin Puts on Mascara

Dress to Impress Yourself

by Yana Kozukhin

I set the water on my stove to boil and flicked on the kitchen radio, which was, as usual, set to NPR. The announcer was giving an update on the ebola crisis, now listing fatalities from a recent accident, now discussing the stock market—I changed the channel. I’d had a long enough day already and had no desire to sit and listen to the ongoing string of bad news. I flipped through channels until I hit a pop station that wasn’t in the middle of a commercial break. As I pulled out plates and pasta sauce, a new song played in the background.

Cotillion

Fashion, Feminism, and A Winter Formal

by Rachel Landau

In my hometown, December means more than just early evenings and the optimism  of an impending winter break. It takes on significance beyond any of the holidays, concerts or changes in the weather. Instead, December means Cotillion, the prom-like event that has groups of high school students talking endlessly of dresses and limousines, pre-parties and after-parties, and definitely not the etiquette that the dance is supposed to teach. 

Corset Illustration

Corset On, Corset Off

by Eliza Bayroff

For most of my life, my fashion sense has been dictated more by what I don’t want to wear than what I do want to wear. Socks with seams? Nope. Tight jeans? No way. Itchy sweaters? Out of the question! I feel almost nothing towards clothes, and when I do feel anything, it is usually frustration at tedious trips to the mall and or the seamstress shop. Sure, I enjoy looking “good.” But I have never really had any idea what “good” actually means.

Historic Fashion

Fashionably Frustrated: Confessions of a Shop-o-Phobic

by Ilana Goldberg

I was leading the feminist crusade toward an era where women would be judged not by the cuteness of their clothing but the content of their character. I, clad in ill-fitting yet fully functional attire, was the ascetic monk of the religion of Not Caring What Other People Think.

Doc Martens

“ . . . So Then I Started Wearing Army Pants and Flip Flops”

by Sophie Edelhart

It was sixth grade when I started to feel like a child among women. Up until that point my wardrobe had consisted mostly of gaucho pants, t-shirts, and Converse sneakers, which suited my perfectly boyish body. But the dreaded halls of middle school eventually caught up with me and walking into school the first day I was caught up in a flurry of flowery perfume, tight leggings clung to early curves, lip gloss, and straightened hair flipping over shoulders. Hormones were raging and silly crushes became relationships while“hook up” was introduced into my vocabulary.      

Miniskirt

Fashion: A Double-Edged Sword

by Eliana Melmed

When I shop for clothes, I try to purchase tops that are not exceedingly cropped, low-cut, or sheer. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been excited about a cute dress or shirt, only to flip it over and find that the back is completely cut out. This is disappointing, but it also makes me question my own tendency to judge the Girl with the Crop Top. If the majority of clothes at the mall are cut out, cut-up pieces of fabric, it might not be fair to judge consumers for buying what is being sold.

Girl Playing with Barbies, 2012

Slumber Party Barbie: Always in Fashion?

by Ellie Kahn

The little girl races to unwrap it and gasps when she sees what the package contains. It’s Slumber Party Barbie™ and she couldn’t be more thrilled. All of the girls in her class have the doll, and now she can’t wait to bring her new Barbie in to school to show them! With the silky haired icon comes an accessory set including a pink satin robe, hair curlers and a pajama set. But what Barbie would be complete without a matching pink scale permanently set at 110 lbs. to keep her slim and fit? Oh and better yet, Slumber Party Barbie™ comes with her very own diet book, solely containing the advice “Don’t eat!”

Adrienne Rich

Poetry is Politics

by Rachel Landau

One of the best ways to write poetry is to read poetry: this is common knowledge probably spoken at every writing class in the world. However, this advice is not specific enough. The leader of the class should instead announce to the group of rookie writers that one of the best ways to write poetry is to read the poetry of Adrienne Rich.

Topics: Activism, Poetry
Eliana Melmed Playing Doctor

Not Just Pink

by Eliana Melmed

I am a junior in high school. I’m involved in the mock trial team, the drama department, the creative writing program, and a music club. I’m also on two sports teams: water polo and swimming. I could have also chosen to participate in basketball, or cross country, or tennis, or volleyball, or soccer, or a dozen other sports. I definitely take for granted my opportunities to participate in the athletics and activities of my choice.

Labor Demonstration, 1915

Dorothy Jacobs Bellanca: The People's Voice

by Ilana Goldberg

Dorothy Jacobs Bellanca was not a women’s rights activist. She was a people’s rights activist.

She understood the problems of the working class—people of all genders, ages, and backgroundsand sought to improve conditions for workers.

It just so happened that along the way, she became a leader in a way that was unprecedented for women of her era.

Paintbrush and Palette

Seeing, Painting, and Understanding: A Tribute to Ruth Light Braun

by Ellie Kahn

Our world is a broken place.

It’s important to acknowledge this, to be aware of what is going on around us, because only then can we begin to pick up the pieces and try to make repairs. One of the points of brokenness in the world right now is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an ongoing struggle between two groups of people fighting over the same land.

Topics: Painting, Israel
Betty Friedan

"The Problem That Has No Name," Then and Now

by Sophie Edelhart

Betty Friedan would end up being best known as the mother of second-wave feminism.

"Sylvia Porter" by Tracy Lucht

Having It All, On Wall Street

by Maya Sinclair

As a student applying to college, my peers and teachers regularly ask me what I am interested in studying. However, when I excitedly answer “business and political economics and foreign affairs,” people often raise their eyebrows or look at me as though I have something in my teeth. One recent encounter stands out as particularly shocking.

Sophie Tucker Portrait

Sophie Tucker: All About That Bass

by Eliza Bayroff

Sophie Tucker was a heavyweight performer—in every sense of the word. Right up to her death in 1966 at age 82, Tucker, the so-called “Last of the Red Hot Mamas,” took her act worldwide, combining her singing talents and bawdy humor into a legendary act that would manage to survive the demise of vaudeville and the dawn of the television age—all while remaining determinedly and definitively plus-sized.

Emma Lazarus

Mining the Archive: Emma and Immigration

by Yana Kozukhin

Long before Emma Lazarus’ words were immortalized on that great copper statue, she was a young Jewish American girl growing up in New York. Throughout her life she produced numerous poems, essays, letters, translations, and even a novel.  

Topics: Activism, Poetry
Ellie Kahn

Finding Sisterhood at Services

by Ellie Kahn

I knew I was getting older when my mom stopped letting me bring Archie comics and Crayola crayons with me to services. These kept me entertained, even if it meant hiding my comics behind the prayer books, peeking over them periodically to see if anyone had noticed the offending material.

Sophie Edelhart at the Western Wall

Not Just A Jew, Not Just A Feminist

by Sophie Edelhart

I want people cheering me on for what I am, not just a Jew, not just a feminist, but forever and always both.

Topics: Feminism
Maya Sinclair

Where Do I Stand?

by Maya Sinclair

My mother is Jewish and my father is not. As a very active member of the Jewish community who just begun her twelfth year of formal Jewish education, I do not consider myself interfaith. I am Jewish through and through. As confident as I am about my identity as a Jew and my place in the Jewish community, I am insecure about my role in the feminist community.

Topics: Feminism
Yana's Hamsa

Figuring It Out

by Yana Kozukhin

So how in the world was the rigid, traditional, millenniums-old practice of Judaism in any way connected to feminism, a movement that aims to restructure societies’ ideals and question tradition? How could I identify as both a believing Jew and as a feminist, not to mention lumping them together into one phrase? The more I repeated them to myself, the more the words ‘Jewish’ and ‘feminist’ sounded incorrect side by side, like “candied broccoli” or “kind bigot.”

Topics: Feminism
Eliana Melmed at her Bat Mitzvah

Looking Over the Mechitza

by Eliana Melmed

Although I wish they were, feminism and Judaism are not congruous in my life. I am a feminist. I am a Jew. But when I put them together, they clash. In my life, being Jewish means that I am a part of my Modern Orthodox community, it means that I go to shul every week and sit in my designated place on the left side of the mechitza, the low wall that separates men and women during prayer.

Rachel Landau as a Child

Questioning My Identity from the Backseat

by Rachel Landau

Why am I both burdened and liberated by the rich history that precedes me, and how do I identify myself with it accordingly?

Topics: Feminism
Torah

Torah Reading Between the Lines

by Eliza Bayroff

As it turns out, reading before my congregation on Saturday mornings gives me far more pride in being a young woman than almost anything else in my life.

Topics: Feminism
Ilana Goldberg's Bat Mitzvah

I Got It From My Mama: Feminism, Judaism, and Me

by Ilana Goldberg

Many things about my lifestyle confuse my grandmother.

Topics: Feminism

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