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Drawing of Zelophead's Daughters

Finding the Founding Feminists

Every year in July, the story of Pinchas is told. And on July 6, 2013, I was the one telling this story. Yep. Little 13-year-old me, electric green braces and all, was up on the bimah, knees knocking, chanting the story of Pinchas. And I did a great job, if I do say so myself. But as embarrassing as it is to admit now, my understanding of my Torah portion at that time was very superficial. I had spent so much time making sure I knew the words so I didn’t make a fool out of myself when I was chanting, that I didn’t put that much effort into fully understanding what I was saying, and how it affected me.

Topics: Bible, Jewish Law
Portrait of Elisa Klapheck by Marlis Glaser

Painting Courage and Painting History

Marlis Glaser, a German artist, grew up in rural Germany, not knowing any Jews or her father’s previous involvement with the Nazi party. Glaser was introduced to a German Jewish woman who had survived the Holocaust. Now, Glaser has shaped her art around Judaism, and recently converted. Her colorful work includes hundreds of portraits of Holocaust survivors, their families, and other Jewish figures throughout history.

Topics: Painting
Unscrewed Close-up title image

Unscrewing Ourselves

Friedman’s book dives into the national narrative of female sexual submissiveness that’s perpetuated by our patriarchal culture. This narrative comes in the form of abstinence-only sex education, widespread toxic masculinity, and a collective reluctance to support women’s sexuality on a social and political level.

Holding Hands

The Importance of Self-Love

“Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Leviticus 19:34 provides the Jewish people with this inspirational and often-repeated Torah verse that seems to pop up in my own life endlessly. In Temple, in Jewish Studies classes, at home when my mother reminds me to be the bigger person—this verse follows me wherever I go. For a long time, I appreciated it and used it as a motivation to do good. But then I reached a point in my life when treating others as I treated myself wouldn’t have been the kindest path. 

Topics: Schools, Bible
San Francisco Pride

Cafeteria Judaism and Feminine Queer Identity

Religion isn’t always easy. I often like to pretend it is—buzzwords like “interfaith” and “pluralism” pervade my discussions about faith. But every now and again, I’m reminded that the history of my faith is not easy. Judaism was, in fact, built on questions. How do I find support as a woman from a faith founded on patriarchal texts? How do I reconcile ancient laws with a modern identity of queerness?

Rising Voices Fellow Dorrit Corwin with her Grandfather

L’Dor V’Dor: A Legacy of Love

My grandfather means something different to each and every person he’s met. To some, he’s kindness, always putting others before himself no matter the circumstances. To others, he’s community, building a network so wide that everyone he runs into is an old friend. To his parents, he was a miracle, not predicted to survive long past birth, or live to create all that he has in his lifetime. To me, he’s all of these things stitched together into one simple phrase: L’dor v’dor (from generation to generation).

Carolina Jews for Justice at HKonJ, February 12, 2017

Organizing Jewishly in North Carolina

When I started college, I didn’t expect to get involved with Jewish organizing. I was Jewish because other people saw me as such—despite my mixed-religious parentage and upbringing, I was always the odd kid out. Never quite Jewish enough to become a bat mitzvah, but enough to be the subject of slurs, wielded by children who had never met Jewish people before.

 

The Story of Job

Job and Josie

One of the most challenging parts of being Jewish is learning how to struggle with stories from Jewish texts that initially seem to contradict my values. When I come across these stories, I have to decide if and how they fit into my own personal relationship with Judaism. The story I have struggled with the most is the Book of Job (Iyov).

Topics: Activism, Bible
The Sisterhood 50: America's Influential Women Rabbis

Finding My Way Back to Rachel Adler

In fact, for most of my life, I rejected the notion that I was a feminist. I was a self-decribed equalist. I did not want to be associated with anything resembling the bra-burning, Lilith-reading farbrente feminists I had learned about in school.

Topics: Rabbis
Rising Voices Fellow Emma Mair at her Bat Mitzvah

The First Hero

Robert Lappin, Jewish philanthropist and the man who’s foundation sent me to Israel this past summer, has said that interfaith families who choose to raise their kids Jewish are the heroes of Judaism. With Jews making up only .2% of the global population, Judaism is both the oldest and the smallest monotheistic religion, meaning that families who tackle raising their children Jewish in this Christian-normative society are much needed. 

Sheryl Sandberg with Option B

Finding Strength From Our Foremothers

Like many Americans, I owe an enormous debt to my ancestors who traveled here in search of a better life. Their courage created my family’s future. And in particular, I feel a special bond to the long line of women, stretching back generations, whose boldness and sacrifices made my life possible. 

 Lesléa Newman Author Photo

The Lovely Lesléa Newman

Are there any boundaries that Lesléa Newman hasn’t broken? In 1989, she made headlines and history with the controversial Heather Has Two Mommies, a book that brought the LGBTQ experience to the children’s section of the bookstore. This month, her latest poetry collection, Lovely, hits bookstores. I talked with Newman about these radical themes, as well as about the accessibility of poetry, fairytales, and, of course, Jewish hair.

Topics: Poetry
Make America Great Again Hat

Picking Battles

Not to be dramatic, but my blood boils whenever I see someone in Trump paraphernalia. Luckily, this is rarely an issue for me. My area of New York is notoriously liberal (Hillary Clinton lives 15 minutes from my house!), and I rarely encounter anyone diametrically opposed to me. However, I’m reminded on occasion that my town isn’t always the liberal bubble I make it out to be. 

Ask Me Another Rubiks Cube

That Time I Apologized for Winning

As it turns out, I’m pretty good at word games, and I like to win. Once I figured the pattern of the game, I was able to answer the questions quickly and correctly. I didn’t even have a problem with the buzzer, as I’d feared. Somehow, I also had the mental bandwidth to realize that my behavior made it apparent that I was completely uncomfortable with winning.

Topics: Feminism
March on Washington for Gun Control

A L’chaim to Gun Control

“He who saves one life… is as if he saves an entire universe. He who destroys a life… is as if he destroys an entire universe” (Talmud, Sanhedrin 4:5).

Medical Care at the Fresh Air Camp

From the Archives: Who Will Tell Your Story?

The lyrics caught my attention. It was a quiet day in the archive and a volunteer asked if she could play the Hamilton soundtrack. As a history buff, I’ve been fascinated by the musical since it hit Broadway. But on this day, it was one song in particular that spoke to me: “Who lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story.”

Topics: History
Josie Rosman at her Bat Mitzvah

Whose Bat Mitzvah Is It Anyway?

Becoming a bat mitzvah was the most spiritual event of my life thus far. Being surrounded by my friends, family, and community as I claimed my place as a Jewish adult was exactly as awe-inspiring and invigorating as I’d been promised it would be. The only dark spot of my day came just after services, during the celebratory brunch, when my uncle informed me that my interpretation of the Torah was wrong.

Sofia Gardenswartz with Friend Diana

Dialogue with Diana

October 2016 was a difficult month. It was the month that Donald Trump started to become a truly scary candidate to me. It was also the month in which my family lost one of our beloved dogs to cancer. Amidst all this, my family was hosting a Chinese exchange student, Diana, in our home for a couple weeks. She was incredibly supportive and understanding as my family grappled with these tumultuous events.

Dorrit Corwin Cropped

Oh Come All Ye Interfaithful

The holiday season doesn’t truly begin until the glimmering menorah ornament is carefully placed on my family’s Christmas tree. It isn’t a Hanukkah bush; it’s a Christmas tree. I’ve been raised following Jewish tradition while also acknowledging Catholic customs, and I’m lucky enough to have grown up in an environment that has encouraged my complex Jewish identity, and helped me build a versatile and sturdy religious foundation.

Michelle Wolf (2016)

Nice Ladies

I’m not a nice lady. I express my (many) opinions loudly, I’ve perfected the sarcastic comment as an art form, and I’m the proud owner of both a copper IUD and a sweatshirt that reads “I’ve got 99 problems and white heteronormative patriarchy is basically all of them.”

Daniella Shear Practicing for Bat Mitzvah

If Only You Would Listen

I’m very lucky to have had access to high quality prayer services for youth when I was younger. There were options for every age from two to 18, and they were fun. Unfortunately, this rich offering of services for kids didn’t last forever.

April Baskin at a Black Lives Matter Hanukkah Action

To Ascend Does Not Mean to Not Speak

This Hanukkah, I decided to create a holiday blessing of my own––one that draws from Jewish law and Hasidic folk history, while also incorporating contemporary Judaism's call to affirm the lives of women who have been hidden from history. I hope you will recite these words of blessing, and as you do so, recall valiant Jewish women, whose stories deserve to be heard and seen.

Topics: Hanukkah
Emma Mair with Family

Two Jews, Many Opinions

In the 12th century the great Jewish philosopher Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, commonly referred to as Maimonides, put together the Thirteen Principles of Judaism. The Thirteen Principles serve as the fundamental truths of the Jewish religion, and in many congregations it’s customary to say “Ani Maamin” (I believe) when reciting them.

Once Upon a Time

Agree to Disagree

My brother-in-law, Alex, is incredibly smart. He’s a Harvard-educated banker in his early thirties, and he genuinely loves to debate. His style of debate isn’t to make other people feel stupid, but it’s clear that he loves feeling like he has changed someone’s mind or broadened their perspective. I’ve realized, through many conversations with him, that this is something with which I struggle.

Minnah Stein with Sign

Unpopular But Important

When you talk about sexual assault, you automatically become unpopular. People don’t want to talk to you because they know that they aren’t going to like what you have to say. This feeling of being unpopular is one that I’ve become accustomed to. Five years ago I heard an NPR program on sexual assault, and I’ve been dedicated to bringing an end to this epidemic ever since. Being a sexual assault activist isn’t an easy job, but it’s the one I’ve chosen.

Topics: Activism, Schools

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32 min
RT : I've written more, & I'll keep writing them. Why? Because every time I hear use Yiddish, I hear my relat… https://t.co/e75PD5gL7V
33 min
RT : Thread: Yup! I’m writing about an who makes me laugh, who shows the world what women can do, who is ri… https://t.co/FaJ80bfYy4