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Jewish Women, Amplified

  • I Learned it in the Archives
  • Loving Judith
  • My Mom Used To Say...
  • Ordering Coffee in Tel Aviv
  • Pauline Steinem Letter 1 (1910)

    I Learned it in the Archives: Women’s Rights Activism Runs in Steinem Family

    One file of suffrage correspondence held many items on letterhead from the Ohio Woman’s Suffrage Association, of which Harriet Taylor Upton was president for many years. The letterhead listed the names of all the officers, and one name in particular caught my attention.

    The woman’s name was Pauline Steinem.

  • "Judith Slaying Holofernes" by Artemisia Gentileschi, circa 1614-20 (cropped).

    Loving Judith

    Gentileschi’s rendition of Judith is a self-portrait—allowing her to wield a sword and take revenge, if only in fantasy. Judith Slaying Holofernes was the first piece of feminist art that really moved me. Even now, I get chills when I view it. I thought a lot about Judith this week, after dusting off my menorah and dutifully buying candles and gelt.

  • Ruth Zakarin and her mother crop

    My Mom Used To Say...

    It was her go-to statement whenever she was cajoling me into doing something she considered a mitzvah, especially when I wasn’t exactly jumping at the opportunity. She would look at me with that, you know, mom look, and say, “Do good things and tell people you’re Jewish.”

  • Caitlin Wolper Cover Crop

    Ordering Coffee in Tel Aviv

    Caitlin Wolper’s first poetry collection, Ordering Coffee in Tel Aviv, is a powerful account of a young Jewish woman’s first trip to Israel. In this chapbook, Wolper powerfully grapples with themes of gender, identity, and “the leash of Israel’s legacy.” Exclusively for JWA, Wolper reflects on her inspiration and creative process for two selected poems.

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Cast of Twilight

A Sparkling Vampire Ruined My Love Life

When I was 11 I fell in love for the first time. He was funny and cute, dorky in the most endearing way, loyal to a fault, a bit of a spaz, very, very fictional, and went by the name of Ron Weasley. Real boys had cooties, so, in fifth grade, most of us preferred the fictional ones. Harry Potter and his best friend Ron Weasley, Troy Bolton from High School Musical (man, was Zac Efron a cutie)... Above all else, we loved Edward Cullen and Jacob Black, the love interests of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight saga. 

Topics: Schools, Film, Fiction
Rachel Brosnahan

The Marvelous Concept of Imperfection

My mother is an avid recommender. She sends me articles and book titles, offers topics to blog about—she even suggested I see Hamilton with my grandma when it first opened on Broadway (before it got super popular). Unfortunately, more often than not I just roll my eyes and ignore these recommendations (as us teenagers often do), and so I have yet to see Hamilton. In the spirit of not making the same mistake twice, I didn’t ignore her when she told me to watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Image of crowd from 2017 Women's March

Humility as an Intersectional Practice

The messiness of the world and the limits of intersectionality as a theory have re-asserted themselves once again in the events surrounding Women’s March leader Tamika Mallory’s embrace of Louis Farrakhan and refusal to publicly condemn his anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ diatribes. I’d like to make a case for an intersectionality rooted in humility. What if, instead of using theory to express what we know, we used it to create space for what we don’t know?

Cast of Runaways

You Go, Gert Yorkes

I’m a simple woman. I don’t need too much encouragement to start a new TV show. So when I heard there was a Hulu original series coming out that features a purple-haired, teenage, Jewish feminist with a pet dinosaur, I decided to watch it. And, I’m so glad I did. 

Toothbrushes

The Gifts of Toothbrushes and Anarchy

Recently, I stayed over at my S.O.'s apartment and needed to borrow their toothbrush. They looked horrified that I would suggest such a thing and said it felt unhygienic. For me, it feels like a non-issue. It has led to a few fights so I have to ask: is it okay to expect a S.O. to be willing to share their toothbrush?

Falsettos

L’dor Vador in Falsettoland

I walked into a dark Walter Kerr Theater. I didn’t know much about the show, but I knew Andrew Rannells was in it, which, I’m sure we can all agree, is a good enough reason to see any show. The band warmed up and the lights dimmed. Then, three men and a little boy walked on stage dressed as “Biblical Hebrews” singing, “Four Jews in a Room Bitching.” I’ve never felt more at home. 

Everything is Illuminated Book Cover

Everything Is…Complicated

I love reading Jewish literature. Seeing my culture and experience come to life on the pages of a book can be meaningful and validating; it makes my idiosyncratic religious practices feel normal, and real. The representation and recognition of Judaism in popular culture is crucial, but what do you do when the author gets it wrong? 

Sex and the City Poster

Feminism in Sex and the City: Looking Back and Moving Forward

New York City. Quippy dialogue. Journalism. Fashion and shoes galore.

What’s not to love about Sex and the City?

Gerda Lerner at Sarah Lawrence College

10 Quotes from the Jewish Founder of Women's History Month

Here are some choice quotes on marginality, what progress looks like, and why women’s history matters, from the Jewish woman who started it all!

"The Chosen" Book Cover

One Chosen People, Many Chosen Ways

As a young Jewish woman in contemporary society, I tend to use the word "pluralism" a lot, in a fairly abstract way. I sometimes struggle to explain this concept despite it meaning so much to me, but I have found no example better than Chaim Potok's iconic young adult novel, The Chosen. When I first read The Chosen in tenth grade, it brought on a series of mixed emotions. I was beginning the journey toward understanding my religious and secular identities, and simultaneously saw so much and so little of myself in the protagonists, Reuven and Danny.

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as Grace and Frankie

Grace and Frankie: Bashert

The popular Netflix show Grace and Frankie gives unique narrative space to a friendship between two women who I would venture to classify as soulmates, bashert. Their relationship, like many of the real-life female friendships I see around me, calls into question the necessity of romance in a meaningful companionship.

Topics: Television
Zootopia Poster

A Feminist Tail Fur All

As the oldest of three children, I often see movies directed towards a younger age demographic with my family. For my sister’s ninth birthday party, we took her and a couple of friends to see Zootopia. I walked away from the movie feeling excited, and proud of Disney for their newest movie.

Topics: Children, Film
Aaron Sorkin

Sorkin’s Game

It feels like just yesterday I was an innocent fifth grader sitting around your kitchen table, discussing trivial fifth grade matters with your daughter, and taking vigorous mental notes on how to become a successful writer and beloved artist such as yourself. I assumed by 2018 I’d still be working on it, and you’d still be telling important stories the compelling way you do. Your work never ceases to leave me full of hope for humanity, and Molly’s Game is no exception. 

Topics: Television, Film
Rose Schneiderman with Jewish Solidarity Caucus Logo

Dispatches from the Jewish Solidarity Caucus

I assumed the labor movement had largely died, the efforts of Emma Goldman and Pauline Newman a relic of a different time. For these women, their identities as Jewish women were interwoven with their identities as radicals and reformers.

Topics: Labor, Socialism
Rising Voices and Havdallah Candle (Winter 2018)

Rising Voices Fellows Respond to Parkland

In response to the Parkland school shooting on February 14, 2018, JWA’s Rising Voices Fellows decided to put their minds together and do what they do best: write. These are the stories of teenage girls from all over the United States, who have grown up after Columbine, after 9/11, and in the age of gun violence and terrorism.

Composite Image for Ester and Ruzya Interview

Reflecting on Ester and Ruzya

Our March Book Club pick is Masha Gessen’s Ester and Ruzya: How my Grandmothers Survived Hitler’s War and Stalin’s Peace, a family history chronicling Gessen’s grandmothers’ experiences in the 1940s and 1950s. When Marina Adelsky, a Russian immigrant and JWA family member (her daughter-in-law is our development director, Dina Adelsky), read this book, she had one word to describe it: familiar.

Silence Breakers Throughout History Composite (Color)

Historical Silence Breakers

Here are just a few of the Jewish women throughout history who spoke out, breaking long-held silences about social issues and women’s disenfranchisement. Their stories remind us that change happens when women use their voices, loudly and together.

Topics: Feminism, History
Sarah Deer Headshot

Between Andrew Jackson and Hitler: An Interview with Sarah Deer

Sarah Deer is a Jewish Native American lawyer and professor who has worked to end violence against women for more than two decades. Her activism has led to legal updates that enable tribes to more easily prosecute sexual assault on their land. She’s also the author of four textbooks about tribal law, and in 2014, received a MacArthur Fellowship for her work.

Cooking Woman

Kitchen Culture and Me

I have this memory where I'm five and it's Thanksgiving, or I'm 12 and it's Chanukah, or I'm 15 and in AP World History. They're all the same memory, and there are more. Almost every year of my public-school education, there has been some kind of school celebration of cultural and ethnic diversity. The common factor in these celebrations is food, because what better way to bring a diverse (and generally uninterested) group of students together?

Black Lives Matter Logo

Kneeling to Take a Stand

I’ve never really distinguished between my feminist and activist identities. They’ve always been one and the same – my feminism inspires my activism, and thus they are not two distinct parts of me. As I’ve grown, I’ve gained more awareness about important social justice issues both inside and outside the feminist movement, one example being police brutality. 

Chocolate Tahini Hamentaschen (Final Photo)

Hamentaschen with Strawberry Balsalmic and Chocolate Tahini Fillings

Celebrating Purim involves listening to the reading of the scroll of Esther and donating to charity. It also, crucially, involves eating hamentaschen. These recipes, inspired by my favorite fillings as a child, are a combination of sweet and savory, cutting the often overly-sweet jam and chocolate fillings with a little bit more depth of flavor.

Topics: Recipes, Purim
Dorrit Corwin Dressed Up as Julia Child for School Presentation

From Spy to Spatula to the Small Screen

When I was in third grade, I had to choose a famous role model to research and present to my class. Naturally, I chose Julia Child – not because I was an aspiring chef or because I wanted an excuse to buy a red wig – but because I left the theater after seeing “Julie & Julia” (2009) absolutely fascinated by her legacy; both inside the kitchen, and beyond its walls. A female public figure with a personality as strong as hers was rare during the 1950s, and her role as a volunteer spy during World War II taught me that no one is just one thing. Even though history often highlights people solely for what they were most famous for, it’s important to look beyond that and explore their multiplicity of talents and contributions to society. 

Topics: Feminism, Food
Rising Voices Retreat Workshop

Addressing #MeToo with Jewish Teens

If you work with teens in any number of settings, you know that for many of them, the #MeToo movement is at the forefront of their minds ... Although it’s not our primary role as educators to provide counseling for teens who may be struggling with their own #MeToo experiences, we can play a part in helping them navigate this complex and multi-faceted conversation, and in a Jewish context.

Man Wearing Native American Headdress

Inappropriate Appropriation

My classmates started posting pictures from last year’s Coachella, their excitement for the music festival illuminating my phone screen. However, amidst all the elation, I couldn’t help but notice the troubling cultural appropriation that also filled the pictures. In the backgrounds of nearly every photo I saw, there were young women wearing bindis and feathered headdresses, and young men wearing war paint. Unfortunately, this insensitivity to and misappropriation of cultures is not specific to Coachella, nor is it a new problem in fashion.

Josie Rosman's Roller Derby Team

Derby Girl

When I first started playing roller derby (a contact sport played on roller skates) as an 11-year-old, I didn’t know how to skate. I could barely make it one lap around the track in my rental skates. Fast forward to last summer–my team and I made it to the national championships in Colorado. I think it’s safe to say that I’ve come a long way during the past four years—not just as a skater, but as a person. Roller derby has been one of the most empowering forces in my life, and it’s contributed significantly to who I am today.

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Jewish Women's Archive. "Jewish Women, Amplified." (Viewed on December 11, 2018) <https://jwa.org/blog>.

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8 hr
"Stories of influential Jewish women in history remind me that there’s a long line of powerful Jewish women standin… https://t.co/i9oeZ9Y3qe
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Did you know that isn't the only women's rights activist in her family? at the… https://t.co/VAfRn97gvB
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in 1947, Dr. Gerty Theresa Radnitz Cori became the first Jewish woman, as well as the first American wom… https://t.co/WbxCYOdkss