Rising Voices

Learn more about the Rising Voices Fellowship, JWA's thought-leadership program for female-identified teens.
Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C., August 28, 1963

Eyes Wide Open

by Shira Small

It’s hard to admit I’m not an expert when it comes to race. I do my best to be as informed as possible, but as a privileged white woman, I recognize I’ll never be able to fully understand systemic racism and how it affects people of color. On a school trip to the American South, though, my eyes were opened further, and I learned that there’s far more to racial injustice in this country than I was aware of initially.

Landscape Photo by Tamar Cohen

Perspectives on Tragedy

by Tamar Cohen

My ears ring. My stomach churns. Have I put down my pencil? At this point, I don't know. More than anything, I'm confused. How could someone possibly think that? How is it that I can't think of any logical arguments against their point of view? 

Topics: Schools
Miriam Cohen Glickman (Cropped)

Solidarity, Sister

by Julia Clardy

In the summer of 1963, Miriam Cohen Glickman was arrested in Albany, Georgia, along with several other Civil Rights activists. While in jail, they went on a week-long hunger strike as a form of protest. This passionate solidarity with those seeking civil rights was a large part of Miriam’s career as an activist. 

Topics: Civil Rights
Rising Voices Fellow Emma Mair with her Cousin Izzy

A Letter to My Little Cousin

by Emma Mair

In the past year a lot has changed in the world that we live in, and all of these changes–many scary–have inspired me to try my hardest to tell you the truth about the reality that girls once lived in, and the reality we live in today.

Sheila Finestone

The World Could Use More Sheila Finestones

by Minnah Stein

She was an under-the-radar super hero. She wasn’t famous, and they don’t teach you about her in school, but Sheila Finestone is someone worth celebrating. Even though her contributions to society weren't always noticed the way they should be, she never let the sun set on her sense of service. 

Gloria Greenfield Cropped

Lights, Camera, Social Change!

by Natalie Harder

Everyone has that movie. The movie you’ve seen a million times and every time you watch it you’re slightly horrified with yourself because you quoted the entire thing and sang some of the background music. But that isn’t what horrifies me most about Spy Kids now. What currently horrifies me the most is that its executive producer, Harvey Weinstein, has been accused by over 30 people of being a sexual predator. 

Eve Ensler

The Eve Ensler Monologue

by Josephine Rosman

I’ve always believed in the power of words. I’ve learned the most from engaging with individuals’ stories, and the best way I know how to influence others is through my writing. I believe that using words as a way to push for social change is profoundly meaningful, and Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues, is a perfect example of this phenomenon.

Topics: Feminism, Theater
Bella Abzug's Campaign Poster, 1970

Hats Off to Congresswoman Abzug

by Kara Sherman

Like Congresswoman Bella Abzug, “I’ve always had a decent sense of outrage.” I can’t say that I was the first to call for Richard Nixon’s impeachment, or that I was the student body president of Hunter College who later received her law degree from Columbia University, but Abzug’s infinite passion for social and economic justice inspires me to attempt to follow in her footsteps.

Barbara Boxer

Barbara Boxer: Senator, Jewess, Inspiration

by Shira Small

Barbara Boxer: Fittingly a great name for a fighter, and an even better name for an extraordinary, accomplished Jewish woman. As one of seven women in the senate when she was elected in 1992, Boxer’s work broke barriers for all women—especially those aspiring to work in politics.

Golda Meir, March 1, 1973

Badass Bubbee

by Rachel Harris

She’s a confusing character in the feminist narrative. A pioneer in her field, yet so disappointingly anti-feminist. How do you label her? Should she be viewed as a hero, a villain, an accidental role model? The life and career of Goldie Myerson, or Golda Meir as she’s more commonly known, begs these questions.

Judy Blume Cropped

The Inspiring, The Messy, and The Author of Both

by Tamar Cohen

Bildungsroman: the German word for a coming-of-age novel. A prime example of this? Judy Blume's Are You There, G-d? It's Me, Margaret. Beloved by angsty teens and middle-aged women’s book clubs alike, Judy Blume seems to have completely mastered the art of coming of age in fiction.

Topics: Activism, Fiction
Rising Voices Fellow Sofia Gardenswartz Reading Grace Paley

Paley’s Power on the Daily

by Sofia Gardenswartz

Last year, my AP English class read the short prose poem “Mother” by Grace Paley. What struck me the most was its mundane nature. This is a characteristic of nearly all of Paley’s work; she wrote in detail about the daily lives of women—a topic that, when she was writing in the 1940’s, was viewed as tangential to the “real” work of male authors writing bestsellers like The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger) or The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton). 

Topics: Schools, Poetry
Rising Voices Fellow Daniella Shear in Fourth Grade

An Open Letter to Phyllis Lambert

by Daniella Shear

I have wanted to be an architect for as long as I can remember. What started as pretending that my doll and I were real estate agents and playing with Legos and other types of blocks (I had them all), turned into a dream for my future. I don’t know when I started saying that I wanted to be an architect; what I do know is that I’m still saying it today. 

Image of Carole King, 2008

Tribute to a Natural Woman

by Dorrit Corwin

Carole King has been a constant source of inspiration and fascination to me since I first listened to “You’ve Got a Friend” in second grade and was entranced by the live performance of Beautiful in Los Angeles. As a young Jewish girl hoping to one day pursue music journalism, I have learned many lessons from King as both an artist and as a strong, independent female.

Topics: Children, Music, Memoirs
Emma Lazarus

Lazarus’ Lessons

by Sofia Heller

Emma Lazarus was a 19th century Jewish American writer whose poem “The New Colossus,” engraved on Lady Liberty’s platform, embraces immigrants as they enter the United States. Though she was from an upper class family, Lazarus defied societal restrictions and norms and dared others to do the same.

Topics: Immigration, Poetry
Goleta Pier

Learning to Pray: Personal, Painful, Passionate

by Tamar Cohen

Until last winter, the only prayers I knew were those in the books I studied with my mom and the rabbi at my synagogue. I discovered spirituality in nature and found a home in Jewish community and tradition, but I never truly prayed. I didn't know how it felt to speak directly to G-d.

Western Wall, Jerusalem

Woman of the Wall

by Kara Sherman

My heart fluttered the first time I saw the Hebrew/Arabic/English street signs circling the exterior of Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport. The Negev broke my heart, and Eilat gave me a black eye. But when my bright orange tour bus came over a hill and I got my first glimpses of the streets of Jerusalem, the world seemed to stand still. 

Biblical Family Tree

Claiming Bilhah and Zilpah

by Josephine Rosman

One afternoon when I was in the 7th grade, my Hebrew tutor, Sarah, was wearing a shirt that read: “Sarah & Rebecca & Rachel & Leah & Bilhah & Zilpah.” The first four names, the names of the matriarchs, were familiar to me. I had heard these names for as long as I could remember at temple, but I had never heard the last two names before. 

Stock Image of Pasta Dish

Food for Thought

by Sofia Gardenswartz

I love food. I don’t think that’s (in fact, I really hope it’s not) a divisive statement. But I’m not only a proud foodie, I’m also an avid chef. 

Rising Voices Fellow Daniella Shear in Tel Aviv

What I Would Have Said

by Daniella Shear

This past summer I went to Israel for three weeks on a teen trip with my summer camp: a rite of passage for Jewish teens. It was my second time visiting Israel; I had previously been with my family. 

Drawing of Charlotte Bronte

When Brontë Gave Me Wings

by Dorrit Corwin

Since seventh grade, I’ve been a proud member of a school community that pushes girls to reach their full potential and encourages them to become feminists from the day they step foot on campus. Given who we are as an institution and as a community, it isn’t surprising that after analyzing the book of Genesis from a secular perspective, eighth graders then tackle Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.

Rising Voices Fellow Minnah Stein at her Bat Mitzvah

How My Bat Mitzvah Changed My Life

by Minnah Stein

When you’re 13, the world seems very small to you. All you know is your family, your friends, and where you live. You don’t worry about solving world hunger or keeping the peace between nations; you just stay in your own bubble. But when I was 13, I became a Bat Mitzvah. 

Rising Voices Fellow Sofia Heller with her Mom

Molded by My Mom

by Sofia Heller

Peanut-butter-filled pretzels and an old TV playing “The Sound of Music” on VHS. Walls covered in whiteboard, beckoning my eager eight-year-old self to fill them with drawings of flowers and dogs. Long older-sister-type chats with my mom’s work friend. I’ve grown up finding the fun and making formative memories at my mom’s offices.

Rising Voices Fellow Emma Mair

From Scared to Empowered

by Emma Mair

It happened at a bar mitzvah. I remember their faces as clear as day and their voices as dark as night. Encircled by seven boys, I couldn’t move and no one could see me. 

Rising Voices Fellow Natalie Harder as a Second Grader

Second Grade Sexism

by Natalie Harder

“Cutting the tie” was just about the coolest thing you could do in my second-grade class. This, in turn, made Mr. Arthur just about the coolest teacher in the elementary school. 

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