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Jewish Women, Amplified

  • Rabbinic Work
  • Photographic Memory
  • Menstruation
  • Broad City
  • Rabbi Berkowitz at a Bat Mitzvah

    Rabbinic Work and the Second Shift

    Recently, I fielded two calls in one week about the under-representation of women rabbis: one was from an academic journal, the other was from a non-profit organization assembling a delegation of rabbis for a service-learning trip. Both of them needed more women to participate in their programs.

    I said no.

  • Delegates at the First National Conference for Women (1977), by Diana Mara Henry

    Photographic Memory: On Being the Official Photographer of the First National Women's Conference

    When, in 1977, Abzug and Senator Patsy Mink called for a national women’s conference, I foresaw that being hired to photograph the First National Women’s Conference as official photographer might be the most historic assignment of my lifetime.

  • Glitter Pad

    My Menstruation, Myself

    We at JWA decided to have an informal group chat about menstruation, our bodies, and sex. There was chocolate, honesty, and lots of laughter. Although we represent different ages and family backgrounds, we found plenty in common around this very normal (and under-discussed) topic.

  • Ilana Glazer Cropped

    Broad City Helps Us Come Back

    Broad City’s “Witches” is everything I need right now, and I’m gonna go out on a limb and say it’s what a lot of us need right now. In this Season 4 episode of Broad City, Ilana visits a sex therapist, Betty, because she can’t cum. I should say this now: get used to the word “cum,” because it’s going to be used a lot in this piece.

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The fortieth anniversary of the first National Women's Conference is tomorrow! Check out this reflection from the o… https://t.co/xk17BK9wNd
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Adina Verson and Katrina Lenk in Indecent

Indecent is Here to Stay! (Sort Of)

For the first time, ever, I decided to watch the Tony Awards earlier this month. This is unusual for me; even Rachel Bloom hadn’t convinced me to be interested. I know next to nothing about theater, but having studied Yiddish and been fascinated by how we tell the stories of Jewish immigration to the United States, I had tickets next month to see Indecent, a drama about a Yiddish play that featured Broadway’s first on-stage lesbian kiss in 1923. I was excited to see how this play would fare at the awards show.

Anita Diamant With the Jewish Wedding Now

An Interview with Anita Diamant

As wedding season kicks into high gear for rabbis everywhere, I’d be lost without The New Jewish Wedding, which has just been revised for the third time.

Buffy Season Six

Buffy Saw the Meninists Coming

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was one of my favorite shows when I was a teenager. Seven seasons of watching a teenage girl and her nerdy best (and Jewish!) friend alternately fight, and fall in love with, supernatural creatures was catnip for my seventeen-year-old self.

Cover of Sarah Silverman's A Speck of Dust

A Speck of Silverman

Sarah Silverman almost died last summer. It’s true! She went to the doctor for a sore throat that turned out to be a life-threatening case of epiglottitis, and she almost died. Thankfully, she survived, and went on to kill…in her newest comedy special that is! (I’ll be here all week folks). In Speck of Dust, Silverman delivers the type of no-holds-barred, crude, hilarious, smart comedy that we’ve all come to expect from her.

Henrietta Szold and her Parents, Lake Placid, 1897

Shout out to Feminist Fathers!

I like to think that some men are born feminists, some become feminists, and some have feminism thrust upon them when they become the fathers of daughters. While in an ideal world, men would support women regardless of women's relationship to them, alas, sometimes it takes having a daughter before men realize just how unbalanced, and unequal, the world can be when sexism enters the mix. Some fathers (the best fathers in my opinion) decide to change the world in order to correct this inequality.

Topics: Children
Ruth Messinger with her Young Children

Ruth Messinger: Inspiring Generations of Activism

Most of us, if not all of us, want to do the right thing in this life. But the hard truth that many activists and citizens must learn is that doing the right thing looks different to different people. Even people on the same side of the political spectrum who oppose the same politician can have very different ideas about the right kinds of actions to take; the groups to include in those actions; and the lens through which they should view their activism. 

That’s why we need pros to show us the ropes—pros like longtime humanitarian and activist Ruth Messinger. 

Gal Gadot cropped

Can Wonder Woman Come Fix Our World Now, Please?

At the onset of Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman, protagonist Diana Prince has spent her millennia-long life on Themyscira, an idyllic Mediterranean colony of Amazonian women where she grows up learning badass warrior skills from wise matriarchs. The plot kicks off when an American pilot crash-lands off the island’s coast. He tells Diana, played by Israeli actress Gal Gadot, about a cataclysmic war raging back in the world of men, instigated by the bad guys. Who are the bad guys? she asks. He explains succinctly: the Germans.

Topics: Feminism, Film
Bella Abzug at Rally to Impeach Nixon

Justice You Shall Pursue

Jews have a particular responsibility to ensure proper use of presidential power.

Every spring, my family reads from our Haggadah about four children: one who is wise, one who is wicked, one who is apathetic, and one who is silent, because s/he does not know enough to ask.

I’ve been thinking about the four children and their questions recently as the word “unprecedented” is applied to the Trump presidency. I think that’s happening because we, collectively, do not know enough to ask.

Topics: Passover, Law
"Stone Butch Blues," by Leslie Feinberg

Queer History and Stone Butch Blues

Two years ago to the month, I read Stone Butch Blues for the first time. Leslie Feinberg had made previous appearances in my life, distant traces of hir legacy filtering through references in other books and news of hir death months prior, but it wasn’t until May/June 2015 that I finally sank into Feinberg’s oeuvre and felt the force of hir most famous book.

"Nostalgia" from Anita Steckel's Giant Woman series

These Jewish Women Think You Should Masturbate

May is both Jewish American Heritage Month and National Masturbation Month, which is a great convergence, because Jewish women have played an integral role in advocating for and destigmatizing female masturbation throughout American history. May earned this lesser-known title in 1995 as a way to protest the firing of the first black Surgeon General, Jocelyn Elders. When asked about masturbation at the United Nation World Aids Day in 1994, Dr.

Topics: Feminism
The Book of Life Podcast Logo

Feminism, Podcasted: an Interview with The Book of Life's Heidi Rabinowitz

Podcasts are all the rage these days, but Heidi Rabinowitz’s The Book of Life podcast is no flash in the pan: on the contrary, this show about Jewish authors, books, and arts has been going strong for twelve years. Chances are if you’re a podcast fan or a Jewish book fan or both, you’ve heard this show somewhere, maybe even on JWA: a Book of Life episode recently appeared here as tie-in content to our May Book Club pick, Marjorie Ingall’s parenting g

Topics: Writing
The Wedding Plan (2017) Movie Poster

Rama Burshtein’s “The Wedding Plan”

I did not know what to expect from a romantic comedy about a woman intent on getting married in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, but The Wedding Plan by Rama Burshtein is one of the most feminist films I’ve ever seen.

Topics: Comedy, Film
Mechitza

Being a Rabbi, a Parent, and a Jew

As Erev Shabbat approaches, my little family is all getting ready for shul and even the toddler is excited. He’s running around the apartment singing “Shabbat shalom, hey!” and keeps saying how much he wants to go to shul. The moment we walk into the doors of our synagogue he starts running around the lobby. We wrangle him to remind him we are going into shul, not only into the building. He refuses to calm down.

Who Needs Feminism?

Where Have All the Good Men Gone?

Men! Hello there, men! You nice guys, you soft bois, you f**k boys; you manarchists, you tech bros, you entrepreneurs; you politicians, you beta males, you alpha males. Are you listening? I have a question for you:

Where are you?

Topics: Feminism
Image from Muslim Ban Protest

When Women Take the Lead

On January 29, 2017, a lone gunman entered the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City during the evening prayer and opened fire. He injured nineteen people and killed six. Less than a month later, the windows of Al-Tawuba Mosque in Montreal were vandalized. These two incidents are just a few of the many that have been on the rise in recent months. One young Muslim woman, Mona Abdullah, took the feelings of frustration and anger that this violence caused and channeled them towards rebuilding the Muslim community in Canada.

Stranger, You are Meant to be Loved

Loving the Stranger Within

Even now, I find myself having trouble writing this post. Even now, after giving up dieting over 25 years ago, after writing songs about loving my bathing-suited body exactly the way it is, after years of asking doctors to treat me using the evidence of blood tests and blood pressure cuffs instead of only the numbers on the scale, after previous––largely positive––experiences writing on Torah and fat activism, there is still something in me that wishes I could somehow slip away from, or obscure, this stigmatized aspect of myself: my fatness.

Topics: Rabbis
"Girls" Promotional Image

A Voice of A Generation: Goodbye, Girls!

Like apparently everyone else in the world, we at JWA had some thoughts about the series finale of Girls. Two of our staffers, Emily Cataneo and Elena Hoffenberg, both millennials, feminists, and fans of the show, sat down and chatted about Girls, its legacy, and the best way to end a show about young women.

This conversation is also the fourth installment in our Reading Our Rights series.

Image from Climate March, April 29

Climates of Change

In 1905, New York was a city of seemingly boundless opportunity — the entryway into a land where new jobs, secure homes, and potential legacies were within reach — even for the most destitute of immigrants, of whom a significant percentage were young, single Jewish women.

Sally Priesand, 1972

On Not Going to Rabbinical School

Let's be clear: I did not make it to the application process for rabbinical school. I didn't even request an application. I came close, but luckily, before I did anything, I managed to figure out the difference between a calling and an impulse. In this case, I probably should have felt a little more called to actually engage with the Torah, instead of hoping that my ambivalence would resolve itself. (Update: it has not.)

Topics: Rabbis
King Solomon's Table, Book Cover

Joan Nathan on Food, Travel, and Tradition

At the Jewish Women’s Archive we believe that good food and good stories will always bring us together. When both the food and the stories are provided by a culinary Jewish superstar like Joan Nathan, forming these kinds of connections is easy. From tarts to tagines, from lox to latkes, Joan’s recipes have brought families together for decades.

Topics: Food Writing
RVF Fellow Diana Myers with a Copy of Lilith

Overcoming Opposition

It takes great courage to challenge authority when you’re a high school student. At that stage in your life, school comprises much of your world, and your relationship with school determines many aspects of your future. Although many school administrations might not encourage dissent, learning to stand up to injustice is as essential a skill for a young person to learn as calculus or chemistry. Of course, administrations are not the only unjust systems that teenagers typically encounter at school: it also takes great courage to stand up against the rigid social hierarchy that characterizes many student populations.

Topics: Activism
MRA-Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony's Secret Pro-Life Agenda

Part 3 of the series Reading Our Rights

Did you know that Susan B. Anthony was a bomb-throwing pro-life crusader who believed that aborting babies was tantamount to murder?

Topics: History
Shabbat Candles

Shabbat is a Two-Person Job

As an assistant rabbi, I'd found a rhythm: simple Friday night meals with friends; long, lazy Saturday afternoons to myself. Someday, I hoped to be partnered, and develop a new system, similar to my senior rabbi and his wife.

Topics: Rabbis
Rising Voices Fellow, Madisen Siegel '16-'17 at January Retreat

Being Fearlessly Feminist

Radical things happen when women come together. Whether it’s to plan a strike, march for the right to vote, or use their networks to spread information about birth control, when women come together, the establishment trembles. As Bella Abzug reminds us, “the establishment is made up of little men, very frightened.” If history is any indication, women who are brave enough to speak out can create an earthquake of social change, shattering any delusions little men may have about women and women’s equality. 

Topics: Feminism
Cropped Pro-Choice Protestor, 2010

Pro-Life, Pro-Choice: What Does it All Mean, Anyway?

Part 2 of the Series Reading Our Rights 

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “pro-choice” as “favoring the legalization of abortion.

That's it. End of blog post.

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Jewish Women's Archive. "Jewish Women, Amplified." (Viewed on November 18, 2017) <https://jwa.org/blog>.

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1 day
The fortieth anniversary of the first National Women's Conference is tomorrow! Check out this reflection from the o… https://t.co/xk17BK9wNd
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We're celebrating the 40th anniversary of the first National Women's Conference this week! Get inspired.… https://t.co/FXs8O3oPIi
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"Like Congresswoman Bella Abzug, 'I’ve always had a decent sense of outrage.'"https://t.co/rPMQm9INLJ https://t.co/DUTpU9FofB