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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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Miriam Cohen Glickman (Cropped)

Solidarity, Sister

In the summer of 1963, Miriam Cohen Glickman was arrested in Albany, Georgia, along with several other Civil Rights activists. While in jail, they went on a week-long hunger strike as a form of protest. This passionate solidarity with those seeking civil rights was a large part of Miriam’s career as an activist. 

Rising Voices Fellow Emma Mair with her Cousin Izzy

A Letter to My Little Cousin

In the past year a lot has changed in the world that we live in, and all of these changes–many scary–have inspired me to try my hardest to tell you the truth about the reality that girls once lived in, and the reality we live in today.

"Free To Be You And Me" Album Cover by Marlo Thomas

45 Years of Free to Be You and Me

When he was three, my son, Jacob, asked for Baby All Gone for Hanukkah. And I couldn't have been prouder.

Blame it on “Free to Be You & Me.” Like many of my generation, that album belonged to the soundtrack of my formative years. Teaching about gender equality in an informal and natural way, the songs and vignettes were snappy, clever, and extremely memorable.

Sheila Finestone

The World Could Use More Sheila Finestones

She was an under-the-radar super hero. She wasn’t famous, and they don’t teach you about her in school, but Sheila Finestone is someone worth celebrating. Even though her contributions to society weren't always noticed the way they should be, she never let the sun set on her sense of service. 

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Season 3 Promo

Thankful for Crazy

This isn't some prestige drama about anti-heroes doing “Bad Man Things;” it's a rom-com send-up about a "quirky" woman. The fact that Bloom and Mckenna are willing to go there and delve into that "quirky" woman's very real mental health problems makes an important statement about how pervasive mental health problems are for so many people.

Gloria Greenfield Cropped

Lights, Camera, Social Change!

Everyone has that movie. The movie you’ve seen a million times and every time you watch it you’re slightly horrified with yourself because you quoted the entire thing and sang some of the background music. But that isn’t what horrifies me most about Spy Kids now. What currently horrifies me the most is that its executive producer, Harvey Weinstein, has been accused by over 30 people of being a sexual predator. 

Eve Ensler

The Eve Ensler Monologue

I’ve always believed in the power of words. I’ve learned the most from engaging with individuals’ stories, and the best way I know how to influence others is through my writing. I believe that using words as a way to push for social change is profoundly meaningful, and Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues, is a perfect example of this phenomenon.

Topics: Feminism, Theater
Bella Abzug's Campaign Poster, 1970

Hats Off to Congresswoman Abzug

Like Congresswoman Bella Abzug, “I’ve always had a decent sense of outrage.” I can’t say that I was the first to call for Richard Nixon’s impeachment, or that I was the student body president of Hunter College who later received her law degree from Columbia University, but Abzug’s infinite passion for social and economic justice inspires me to attempt to follow in her footsteps.

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.

Barbara Boxer

Barbara Boxer: Senator, Jewess, Inspiration

Barbara Boxer: Fittingly a great name for a fighter, and an even better name for an extraordinary, accomplished Jewish woman. As one of seven women in the senate when she was elected in 1992, Boxer’s work broke barriers for all women—especially those aspiring to work in politics.

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.

Golda Meir, March 1, 1973

Badass Bubbee

She’s a confusing character in the feminist narrative. A pioneer in her field, yet so disappointingly anti-feminist. How do you label her? Should she be viewed as a hero, a villain, an accidental role model? The life and career of Goldie Myerson, or Golda Meir as she’s more commonly known, begs these questions.

Judy Blume Cropped

The Inspiring, The Messy, and The Author of Both

Bildungsroman: the German word for a coming-of-age novel. A prime example of this? Judy Blume's Are You There, G-d? It's Me, Margaret. Beloved by angsty teens and middle-aged women’s book clubs alike, Judy Blume seems to have completely mastered the art of coming of age in fiction.

Topics: Activism, Fiction
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.

Topics: Feminism
Rising Voices Fellow Sofia Gardenswartz Reading Grace Paley

Paley’s Power on the Daily

Last year, my AP English class read the short prose poem “Mother” by Grace Paley. What struck me the most was its mundane nature. This is a characteristic of nearly all of Paley’s work; she wrote in detail about the daily lives of women—a topic that, when she was writing in the 1940’s, was viewed as tangential to the “real” work of male authors writing bestsellers like The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger) or The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton). 

Topics: Schools, Poetry
Rising Voices Fellow Daniella Shear in Fourth Grade

An Open Letter to Phyllis Lambert

I have wanted to be an architect for as long as I can remember. What started as pretending that my doll and I were real estate agents and playing with Legos and other types of blocks (I had them all), turned into a dream for my future. I don’t know when I started saying that I wanted to be an architect; what I do know is that I’m still saying it today. 

Image of Carole King, 2008

Tribute to a Natural Woman

Carole King has been a constant source of inspiration and fascination to me since I first listened to “You’ve Got a Friend” in second grade and was entranced by the live performance of Beautiful in Los Angeles. As a young Jewish girl hoping to one day pursue music journalism, I have learned many lessons from King as both an artist and as a strong, independent female.

Composite Image of Marge Piercy with He, She and It

An Interview with Marge Piercy

We spoke with Marge Piercy’about her book He, She, and It, dystopia in 2017,what she thinks about artificial intelligence (AI), and how young activists can fight the good fight.

Topics: Fiction
Emma Lazarus

Lazarus’ Lessons

Emma Lazarus was a 19th century Jewish American writer whose poem “The New Colossus,” engraved on Lady Liberty’s platform, embraces immigrants as they enter the United States. Though she was from an upper class family, Lazarus defied societal restrictions and norms and dared others to do the same.

Goleta Pier

Learning to Pray: Personal, Painful, Passionate

Until last winter, the only prayers I knew were those in the books I studied with my mom and the rabbi at my synagogue. I discovered spirituality in nature and found a home in Jewish community and tradition, but I never truly prayed. I didn't know how it felt to speak directly to G-d.

Cropped Rokhl Holzer

Feminists For Halloween

These days, “witch” is no longer just the epithet you hurl at, say, an older female candidate for president; the fed-up feminist sector of our popular culture is proudly claiming it for its own.

Western Wall, Jerusalem

Woman of the Wall

My heart fluttered the first time I saw the Hebrew/Arabic/English street signs circling the exterior of Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport. The Negev broke my heart, and Eilat gave me a black eye. But when my bright orange tour bus came over a hill and I got my first glimpses of the streets of Jerusalem, the world seemed to stand still. 

Biblical Family Tree

Claiming Bilhah and Zilpah

One afternoon when I was in the 7th grade, my Hebrew tutor, Sarah, was wearing a shirt that read: “Sarah & Rebecca & Rachel & Leah & Bilhah & Zilpah.” The first four names, the names of the matriarchs, were familiar to me. I had heard these names for as long as I could remember at temple, but I had never heard the last two names before. 

Stock Image of Pasta Dish

Food for Thought

I love food. I don’t think that’s (in fact, I really hope it’s not) a divisive statement. But I’m not only a proud foodie, I’m also an avid chef. 

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

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9 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
12 hr
Did you know that isn't the only women's rights activist in her family? at the… https://t.co/VAfRn97gvB
14 hr
in 1947, Dr. Gerty Theresa Radnitz Cori became the first Jewish woman, as well as the first American wom… https://t.co/WbxCYOdkss