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Jewish Women, Amplified

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Which LGBTQ Activist Are You?

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sk Emma

Got a question on life, love, or anarchy? Ask Emma! All submissions are confidential.

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Stage with Microphone and Stool

Dear Male Comedian

I spend a lot of time trying to shift the focus away from my appearance, my love life, and my sexuality. By sizing me up in front of my entire community, you undid three years of that work in 30 seconds.

Shira Small with her Great-Aunt Esther

Labels vs. Identity

Jewish. Feminist. Single. Religious. People are so multifaceted that labels often can’t capture the entirety of our experiences. I interviewed my great-aunt Esther about various elements of her complex identity and where they intersect; I mostly came away wondering if labels—namely “Jewish” and “feminist”—can really do our identities justice. As a Jewish, single, working woman in her 70s, I assumed my aunt would have a plethora of stories that fit a single narrative. But life is complex, and messy, and seldom fits into the boxes we create to try to make sense of it all.

Composite Image of Lillian Wald and Slyvia Bloom

Symmetry: Sylvia Bloom and Lillian Wald

When I heard last week about the extraordinary multimillion dollar donation by Sylvia Bloom, who died in 2016, to Henry Street Settlement, the word that immediately came to mind was the one I wrote to my Settlement friends: “there is a real symmetry there,” I told them.

Daniella Shear with her Grandmother

Activism in My Genes

My grandma and I have always been close despite only seeing each other a few times a year. I love the time we spend together in New York City and DC seeing Broadway shows, eating cupcakes, and doing jigsaw puzzles. For my entire life she has had a career as an event planner, and as I’ve gotten older she has let me help with events when I can. Although I knew that she had attended the March on Washington and edited a Jewish newspaper, I didn’t know the extent to which activism had played a role in her life.

Rabbi Jennifer Singer

Faith and Feminism

Last year I met Rabbi Jennifer Singer, and I immediately looked up to her. She’s a strong, spiritual, and independent woman who commands the room with her lively personality. She’s an excellent rabbi, and I always leave her sermons with new ideas and ways of thinking. 

Fritter Final Plating Photo

Espresso Ricotta Fritters for Shavuot

In this recipe, I’ve mixed espresso into a dairy Ricotta Fritter recipe to blend the caffeine sometimes needed for the all-night studying with the traditional Shavuot practice of eating a lot of dairy.

Topics: Recipes, Shavuot
Josie Rosman Trip Photo

Lessons from Rabbi Lauren

All my life, I’ve been learning lessons both about the Torah and about how to live a fulfilling life from Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann at Kol Tzedek (my synagogue) in Philadelphia. From services and Torah school, to the time we spent together prepping for my bat mitzvah, Rabbi Lauren was the person who taught me how to look at Jewish texts in a new light, and turn them into something inspiring and relevant. She taught me about the concept of social justice, and how as Jews, we have a moral responsibility to make the world a better place. 

Hedy Lamarr

Discussion Guide for Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story

The film Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, which premiered in theaters last November, explores the unusual and tumultuous life of Hedy Lamarr—a Jewish and Austrian-born Hollywood actress considered to be the most beautiful woman in the world.

Gann Academy Teacher Amy Newman

My Jewish Studies Teacher Is My Favorite Jewish Feminist

At every school, in every subject, there’s a certain teacher who everyone hopes to see on their class list in the fall. At Gann Academy in Waltham, Massachusetts, in the Jewish Studies department, that teacher is Amy Newman. I’ve been lucky enough to have her two years in a row, making me the object of much envy from my peers, but she is truthfully one of the most exceptional educators I’ve ever met. Amy is incredibly knowledgeable, gracious, and funny, and she makes a sincere effort to let her students into her life and teaching process as much as she can.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 2004

RBG: Icon and Bubbe

The film traces her transformation from a young Jewish girl in Brooklyn ... to her current status as a veteran justice, cultural icon, and bubbe. Younger women may know more about RBG’s more recent work, but the film emphasizes how her early work in the 1960s and ‘70s totally changed life for American women in fundamental ways.

Topics: Feminism, Film
Kara Sherman Bat Mitzvah

My Jewish Role Model and her Humanist Role Models

You haven’t really lived until you’ve had a meal at my Aunt Roberta’s kitchen table. It’s small and made of light, grainy wood, and I really think it should be recognized as the capital of Jewish free thought. This, of course, has nothing to do with the make or model of the table, nor with the meals served on it, but has everything to do with the woman who owns it. I may be slightly biased, but Roberta Schiffer, my mother’s paternal aunt, is undoubtedly one of the most intelligent, introspective, and loving thinkers I have ever met.

Emma Mair in Jerusalem

Debbie Coltin: Now on Your Radar

When you google Debbie Coltin, not much comes up. If you ask her why, she’ll say it’s because she’s a private person; she’d much rather fly under the radar. But as a writer, a Jew, and a young woman, I feel that Debbie’s contributions to Massachusetts’s North Shore Jewish community are too valuable to simply “fly under the radar.” Luckily, since Debbie has given me permission to share her story, they no longer have to!

A Besere Velt, 2016

Twenty Years of Singing for Bread and Roses

This year, the Boston Workmen’s Circle Yiddish chorus, A Besere Velt (A Better World), will celebrate its 20th anniversary. I spoke with original chorus members, Michael Felsen and Jenny Silverman, about the choir’s conception, past, present, and future.

Dorrit Corwin and Rabbi Laura Geller

Rabbi Laura Geller: Torah of Jewish Feminism

I wasn’t always easily identifiable as the Jewish feminist activist I am today. In fact, I was a Hebrew school drop-out ... but then I discovered Rabbi Laura Geller.

Composite of Anna Solomon and Leaving Lucy Pear

Anna Solomon on History, Motherhood, and "Leaving Lucy Pear"

Our May Book Club pick is Leaving Lucy Pear, by Anna Solomon. This historical novel takes place in New England in the 1910s and 1920s and follows a cast of characters whose lives are transformed by a teenage girl’s decision to leave her newborn baby in a pear orchard. I spoke with Solomon about mothers, history, and why 1920s America is not so different from our country today.

Topics: Fiction
Michelle Wolf at the White House Correspondence Dinner

Michelle Wolf is (Still) not a Nice Lady

So, why do people think Michelle Wolf is Jewish (she’s not), and how has this misconception shaped some of the criticism that she’s received? Side note: Michelle, everyone thinks you’re Jewish anyway so why not just seal the deal? Join us!

Rising Voices Fellows attending a retreat seminar (Winter 2018)

Combating Bullying and Exclusion

When the status quo simply isn’t acceptable, our Rising Voices Fellows step in. In addition to being activists, they are just some of the mensch-iest people you’ll ever meet, and they don’t take things like bullying or exclusion lightly. From working to make youth group more open and inclusive, to refusing to take part in school bullying, these young women teach us the importance of sticking to good values, no matter the risk or cost.

Pathways to Freedom Kiosk

Passover, Freedom, and Public Art: An Interview with Julia Vogl

Artist Julia Vogl travels the world, transforming public spaces into works of art that reflect the shared experiences of the local community while embuing those spaces with strikingly vibrant color and patterns.

Three RVF Fellows in Feminist T-shirts

Women's Rights are Human Rights

Feminism is a big part of the Rising Voices Fellowship, and our Fellows involve themselves in feminist work in a variety of different ways. From attending conferences about issues facing women today, to addressing sexual assault in schools and beyond, these young women are standing up for themselves, and for women in their communities.

Topics: Feminism
Stock Image of An Iron

Ask Emma: Pushy Parents, Domestic Chores, and the Fall of Capitalism

I am a student on a college campus and I too fight for women's issues. What advice do you have to make my work more effective?

Rabbi Leah Berkowitz at her Ordination

The Consequences of Professional “Negging”

Having started my career young (and single, and a woman), I feared that congregations wouldn’t take me seriously. I’ve been pleasantly surprised that, once congregations invited me to be their rabbi, they’ve treated me as one, without question.

Topics: Feminism, Rabbis
Rising Voices Fellows in their feminist t-shirts

Strengthening School Communities

Our Rising Voices Fellows are active members of their high schools who work to strengthen and positively contribute to these communities. From combating negativity and unkind behavior with positive messages, to making school a more environmentally conscious place, these young women are taking the lead in shaping and bettering their school communities.

Grandma Goldberg's Honey Cake

In Search of a Remembered Treat

My sister, Sheila, and I had been searching for the recipe for the Honey Cake our mother, Dorothy, baked for us. Always the star of our Jewish holiday celebrations, the handwritten recipe had been lost, and no matter how many times we tried to substitute and translate other recipes for the Honey Cake, most of them fell short.

The Brass Sisters (Cropped)

Recipes for Life

Chatting with Marilynn and Sheila, it struck me how often the word “nurture” and “nourish” came up in our conversation. The Brass Sisters certainly recognize the importance of nurturing others, through food, compassion, and acquired wisdom. I myself felt nourished—by the delicious cake they served me and by their warm, funny stories.

Rising Voices and Havdallah Candle (Winter 2018)

Standing Up For Our Lives

In the wake of the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida, many of our Rising Voices Fellows sprung into action. From writing their own reflections and calling for change, to organizing their communities to act, these young women are taking part in a teen-led movement that’s sweeping the nation.

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Jewish Women's Archive. "Jewish Women, Amplified." (Viewed on February 19, 2019) <https://jwa.org/blog>.

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