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We're Grateful For... Having Come A Long Way, Baby

As we approach this year's Thanksgiving, I asked some of the JWA staff members how far they've come—personally or politically, culturally or collectively—and how that's inspired a sense of gratitude. Here is a sampling from Etta King, Michelle Cash, Stephen Benson, and Ellen Rothman.

Etta King, Education Program Manager
This year, I am truly grateful for my social network. Over the past twelve months, my social network found several people jobs, raised money for friends who lost their homes, crowd-sourced enough curricular materials to teach three years of Sunday school classes, helped kick-start EPs for at least three budding musicians, provided non-partisan (and partisan) information on candidates and proposals up for election, celebrated weddings, new babies, and commemorated the passing of several amazing people. My social network brought together a Catholic-raised Goddess worshipper and a Jewish maggid in discussion about how religious institutions can fundraise and community build. It taught me to make fresh-baked bread in an hour (you proof it in the microwave!). It helped my mom assemble a search party for our lost cat (whom we found), and it provided me with infinite opportunities to learn, share, laugh, cry, and grow. The compassion, conviction, and humor with which my network collectively approaches life's joys and challenges inspires me to no end. The power of our connections and ideas is great enough to make real change in the offline world. I can't wait to sign in and see what comes next.

Michelle Provorny Cash, Director of Communications
This will be the first year in a decade that my family will be coming together for Thanksgiving. For years, I’ve lived in other countries and on other coasts, and it has been difficult to bring three generations of family together in one room. This year, my five-year-old daughter will finally have the opportunity to meet her Uncle Robbie, my youngest brother. I am thankful that a long-thought-about move is now behind me, and I am starting to settle into a new home in a new state. I am happy that that home state has had the foresight to enact an autism insurance mandate, and that many families, including my own, are benefitting from receiving desperately needed services without being forced into bankruptcy. Most of all, I am profoundly grateful to the friends and family who, over this past year, have given me their time and their ears and their unending support. On Thursday, I can give at least a few of them the thanks that they deserve.

Stephen Benson, Executive Assistant/Office Manager
I am old enough to remember the original advertising slogan, “You’ve come a long way, baby!” The slogan was created as an advertising campaign that identified a cigarette with the women’s movement. So many years later, I’m thankful that the women’s movement is still around and that it has grown to be a part of our communal dialogue. Born in the South in the ‘50s, I’m thankful that casual, everyday discrimination against minorities and women is not only unacceptable, but is actually legislated against by my country. That can certainly be considered coming a long way. I’m thankful that the Jewish Women’s Archive exists as a home for knowledge, for learning, and for providing a forum where Jewish tenets of compassion, struggle, and liberation can be shared with the world. Finally, I’m really thankful that the nature of freedom is always going the distance toward more inclusion and the extension of freedoms to everyone.

Ellen K. Rothman, Deputy Director
Like many other families, mine has a tradition of going around the Thanksgiving table and having each person name one thing he/she is thankful for this year. We will agree at the outset that we are grateful Nate Silver was right about the election. I will be surprised if someone doesn’t mention the Orioles’ excellent season. My brother who lives in Greenwich Village is bound to offer thanks to ConEdison for getting the lights—and the elevators—back on after Hurricane Sandy. My 88-year-old mother will doubtless be thankful to have ALL of her children and grandchildren under one roof. And me? This year it will be easy: I will give thanks that I am well again. Last year, as I tried to decide which of the four pies to try first, I struggled to be thankful. I had just been diagnosed with breast cancer and faced surgery (it turned out to be three surgeries), chemotherapy, and radiation. On Thursday, I will think how lucky I was to have wonderful healthcare providers, good health insurance, and supportive co-workers, friends, and family. It may seem like a small thing at a time of “super storms” and “fiscal cliffs,” but I will look at my gray-haired siblings and say “thank you” to whoever arranged for my hair to grow back with as few strands of gray as it had the day my head was shaved.

Readers, what are you thankful for? How far have you journeyed? How far have we collectively come? Please share with us what you're grateful for in the comment field below. We want to know!

 

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3 Comments

Thanks for a moving and delightful post! After reading your words, I'm going to start the tradition of listing things we're thankful for in my family too.

I am eighty-four years old and I have much to be thankful for. I have been a feminist activist since 1963, when I testified before a Congressional committee on behalf of the Equal Pay Act for the ACLU, and I am grateful for all the changes I have seen since then and that I am able to continue my activities as an advocate for women.

I am thankful that I live in Sarasota, FL, where I have the most active social and cultural life of any time and place in my life.

Finally, I am thankful for my busy work schedule. Currently, I am editing a play based on my memoir written by Neil Cole, one of Australia's top playwrights, that we hope to see produced in Australia and the US.

I am also editing my late brother Hermann's diary that he began keeping in Berlin, Germany, in 1932 when the Nazis began their rise to power, and ended in 1935 when we were living in the Bronx, NY. The original is in the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC, but this edited version will go on the website of the Museum of Family History.

I am working on a speech I will deliver on April 6, 2013, at the Congregation for Humanistic Judaism in Sarasota, FL.

I am working as a volunteer with UnidosNow, a local organization devoting to bettering the conditions for Hispanics in Sarasota, by introducing them to top officials in community organizations so they can build bridges to those organizations.

I am preparing for an interview this afternoon for Sarasota Community Radio Station WSLR on my campaign to have Phyllis Schlafly removed as a Groundbreaker for women's rights on the website and upcoming film of makers.com.

Finally, after the first of the year, I will begin writing ad hoc columns for the "Sarasota News Leader," a new progressive online newspaper.

It sounds trite - but I could not be more thankful for my family - nuclear and extended. This past year we moved from Israel, home to Boston and then to NYC. My three girls (3,6,8) never expressed anxiety thanks to family love and support on all ends. My parents, both retired professionals and masterful grandparents, moved along with us so that they could maintain their close relationship with their granddaughters. While my professional identity is transitioning I am enormously grateful to my spouse, my daughters, parents, siblings, in-laws and even the cousins we are rediscovering in Brooklyn. Transition is cushioned by the consistency and support of family.

Thanksgiving Meal
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Thanksgiving Meal.
Courtesy of Hillary H./Flickr.
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How to cite this page

Orcha, Gabrielle. "We're Grateful For... Having Come A Long Way, Baby." 19 November 2012. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on July 22, 2017) <https://jwa.org/blog/were-grateful-for-having-come-long-way-baby>.

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14 hr
"Mixed-Up Files" gets even more love! Don't miss our podcast ep abt the tour in this article https://t.co/rmyT7utlMg https://t.co/iRfIYgruWc
15 hr
Love this article about reclaiming Jewish folklore for feminist purposes. https://t.co/k4Hylfv4cD
16 hr
1. Yay for a biopic of the ! 2. Boo for Natalie Portman leaving the project. https://t.co/RWRRvI2CzB