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Rising Voices

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

Dressing Room

A Call for Inclusion on the Catwalk

For the longest time, mirrors were my sworn enemy. Dressing rooms were the battlegrounds of a war between comfort and confidence, and my body was caught in the middle of it. On some days, every curve I had was subject to thorough self-scrutiny. Stomachs had to be sucked in, and spandex was a girl’s best friend. 

The Daughters of Zelophehad

The Fight to Break Barriers Continues

The recent presidential election proved that women haven't broken the highest glass ceiling just yet. For centuries, however, women have been breaking barriers and surmounting obstacles. In one of the first recorded cases, five revolutionary biblical women, Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah, were the first females to inherit land from their father, Zelophehad. 

Woman Running at Sunset

Rabbi Hillel on Stress Relief

I grimace. My stomach churns. My muscles tense up. Reading the news used to be my favorite pastime. But ever since the election, reading the news feels like sitting in the backseat during another kid’s Driver’s Ed lesson: being jerked around by someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing as dangers lurk at every turn. American standards for truth and respect seem to be at an all-time low for my lifetime, and I’ve never felt so worried for the future.

Open Journal

Finding Myself and God in a Still, Small Voice

Teenage chaos is inevitable. I speak from experience when I say, plenty of mistakes are made and it can be hard to find our voice. We don’t always know how to grow. We don't always know how to learn from our mistakes. For the first time, our questions don’t have answers. 

Drop of Water Causing a Ripple Effect

The Magnitude of Miriam Through Midrash

For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled to make the Torah meaningful to me.  In first grade, the boys in my class had already found strong and charismatic role models in Moses, Aaron, Abraham, and countless others. I, and the other girls in my class, were left to search for leaders in soft-spoken and often overlooked sisters and mothers. 

2016-2017 Rising Voices Fellow Katy Ronkin at her Bat Mitzvah

Niddah v. Ronkin: How I was able to Reclaim the Mikveh

It’s so disheartening to me that our religious text calls something as natural as a woman’s period, “impure.” A period is nothing to be ashamed of, and this text only adds to the stigma surrounding them. 

Sunrise over a Lake

The Power of My Daily Renewal

After long afternoons turn into endless evenings and restless nights, I still wake up in the morning feeling wholly replenished. With the ring of my alarm clock comes the thought that I can take on the day, no matter how tired I am. 

Miriam Holding a Timbrel

The Forgotten Sister: Miriam

Miriam is one of many strong women described in the Jewish texts, and is far too often forgotten when we retell our stories. Two stories stand out to me in illustrating that Miriam is a truly wise and courageous woman: when Miriam saves her brother Moses in his youth, and when she leads the Jewish people in celebration after they successfully cross the Red Sea to safety. 

2016-2017 Rising Voices Fellow Eden Olsberg at her Bat Mitzvah

Her mouth opens with wisdom, and words of loving kindness are on her lips

Laws, tradition, and God are words that typically come to mind when you think of Judaism. In my Bat Mitzvah parsha (Torah reading), Lech Lecha, these words are relevant, but not the ones that stuck out to me.

2016-2017 Rising Voices Fellow Isabel Kirsch at her Bat Mitzvah

Public Responsibility: From Biblical Consent To Planned Parenthood

When I first read my assigned Bat Mitzvah parsha (Torah portion), Ki Teitzei, my response was one of shock and disgust. The parsha discusses the guidelines for punishing an engaged virgin who lies with another man, outlining different punishments depending upon where the activity occurs.

Sarah, Hagar, and Abraham

Are You There God? It’s Me, Hagar

The matriarchs are complex women, who do not always behave “perfectly,” or in the manner we would expect of our biblical female role models. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the story of Hagar, Sarah’s one-time slave, and Abraham’s one-time concubine.

Biblical Deborah

My Gateway to Jewish Feminism

When I was younger, I learned about a woman who drove a people from war times to peace. She was widely respected in a male dominated era, and she was one of only seven women who spoke to God directly. The protagonist of the story is the prophetess Deborah. 

Timbrel

Leading with Timbrels: Another Side to the Passover Story

Every year, my temple holds a women’s seder on the second night of Passover. This ritual has always been important to me because throughout my Jewish education, I have clung to stories as the basis for my learning. 

Hanukkah Bush

The Hidden History of Hanukkah

We all know the story. The courageous Maccabees, the oil that lasted for a miraculous eight nights. We all know the branded fable, the great tale of Hanukkah that has been recited again and again in synagogues and religious schools forever. But it isn’t the whole story. 

Rising Voices Fellow Diana Myers with "All-of-a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor

Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte, Gertie, and Me

When I was still pretty small—in first grade, or maybe kindergarten—someone gave me a book for my birthday. This wasn’t an unusual event; I’ve received more books as presents in my seventeen years than I think most people end up owning in their entire lifetime. What was unusual was that this book was by a Jewish woman, and about Jewish girls, like me. 

Alexandra Fine and Janet Lieberman

Alive with Pleasure and Passion: Lessons from a vibrator entrepreneur

You may be uncomfortable reading a blog post about a vibrator inventor written by a sixteen-year-old, but bear with me. I have a great deal of admiration for Alexandra Fine, who graduated Columbia with an advanced degree in Human Psychology, and started a successful business at the age of twenty-six. 

Anita Pollitzer (cropped)

Looking Back to the Future

But I don’t want to be silent. After all, it’s not silent women who get stuff done, it’s an explosion of nasty women. So, in thinking about how to move forward and stand my ground, I look to the past. I look to a woman who got stuff done. I look to Anita Pollitzer.

Grace Aguilar

The Dangerous Gift

What got my attention wasn’t the writing, though it does connect us. I wasn’t drawn in by the poetry or the Judaism or any of the other traits I share with this woman. No, what caught my eye was the measles. Grace Aguilar: British/Jewish novelist, poet extraordinaire, religious writer, social historian, and liturgist; and I wanted to write about her because of the measles. 

Justine Wise Polier

Women Who Fight for Us

In the late forties and early fifties, a time when many refused to listen to female voices, Polier made her voice heard. She was published in various legal journals and other opinion pieces, and never filtered her views so that others could digest them more easily. She didn’t mince words or walk on eggshells to sound more feminine. Her writing was unadulterated social criticism. 

Jane Harman (Cropped)

Jane Harman: Crushing Gender Boundaries in Politics

Since November 8th I’ve been thinking a lot about politics. Personally it was devastating to see Hillary Clinton lose the Presidential election. It took me a while to digest the news because nearly all the polls had predicted otherwise, and most people assumed it was a sealed deal. 

Theater

Rehearsing For a Better World

YTheater is a program that Haberman co-founded in the hopes of finding a way for Israeli and Palestinian youth to work together and build a community. 

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Rising Voices." (Viewed on December 13, 2018) <https://jwa.org/blog/risingvoices>.

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