Given the rising incidents of anti-Semitism and racism, the Islamophobia, and threats to abortion access under this new administration, I find myself scared about being a Jewish woman. I hate feeling powerless but have found a way to channel some positive energy by sharing stories that exemplify tikkun olam. I’m taking a page from Michelle Obama’s book and trying to “go high” in the face of many choosing to “go low.”
I’ve realized that the show’s one-dimensional view of identity is objectifying. Segments on the show include “How to Hide Your Tummy,” or “How to Create Curves.” At one point I heard those things and thought they were trying to be helpful. At second glance, these “how tos” project a single image of beauty, an image of beauty that has a big bust and a tight tummy.
Abortion rights often dominate our national conversation about reproductive justice. There’s another side to this issue that doesn’t make as many headlines: the right to parent. Luckily, there are plenty of organizations working to ensure that no one has to choose between work and children, including the national nonprofit, A Better Balance.
A “white feminist” is a feminist who doesn’t acknowledge that the life experiences of white people are different from those of people of color, and therefore doesn’t practice what is called “intersectional feminism.” Dunham doesn’t acknowledge the fact that even though she’s part of an oppressed group as a woman, she still benefits from white privilege, and that isn’t inconsequential.
“Torah Judaism does not support abortion, Torah Judaism does not support same-sex marriage,” right-wing pundit Ben Shapiro explained with a confident smirk to a cheering audience of Yeshiva University students. I expect it’s a lot easier to blindly subscribe to one binary view on what is seen as one of the most enigmatic documents in existence, rather than to actively engage with this foundational text, and question its claims.
In the wake of the Women’s March on Washington, many participants and from-afar admirers celebrated the success of a watershed political moment: a coming together of millions of women all over the world to voice opposition to the new American president and his stance on a variety of political and social issues.
The year Blanche Hart was born, the United States celebrated its 100th birthday. The telephone was patented, Mark Twain published The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and the Transcontinental Express train traveled from New York City to San Francisco in just 83 hours and 39 minutes.
I understand where Chuck Schumer’s public stance comes from. He and his supporters are afraid of the “anti-Israel bias” at the UN, and they believe that anything passed by the organization is inherently anti-Zionist. Sadly, Senator Schumer and many other Jews have a misconstrued notion of what it means to be pro-Israel.
Betsy DeVos and I are about as close to enemies as two advocates for children could be, and about as different as two white Midwestern women have ever been. We both believe in the power of education, but we see the purpose of education very differently.
For the longest time, mirrors were my sworn enemy. Dressing rooms were the battlegrounds of a war between comfort and confidence, and my body was caught in the middle of it. On some days, every curve I had was subject to thorough self-scrutiny. Stomachs had to be sucked in, and spandex was a girl’s best friend.
The recent presidential election proved that women haven't broken the highest glass ceiling just yet. For centuries, however, women have been breaking barriers and surmounting obstacles. In one of the first recorded cases, five revolutionary biblical women, Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah, were the first females to inherit land from their father, Zelophehad.
I did not set out to write a historical or timely novel but I do think The Imperial Wife proved to be both. Ironically, it was only by looking back at eighteenth-century Russia, during the time of the fascinating ruler Catherine the Great, that I was able to think more deeply about the challenges facing contemporary women in America.
I should be able to tour the neighborhoods that sheltered hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees in New York, Chicago, Boston, Montreal and Toronto, London and Manchester. But thanks to xenophobia, inaction, and fear, these neighborhoods never existed.
I grimace. My stomach churns. My muscles tense up. Reading the news used to be my favorite pastime. But ever since the election, reading the news feels like sitting in the backseat during another kid’s Driver’s Ed lesson: being jerked around by someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing as dangers lurk at every turn. American standards for truth and respect seem to be at an all-time low for my lifetime, and I’ve never felt so worried for the future.
Teenage chaos is inevitable. I speak from experience when I say, plenty of mistakes are made and it can be hard to find our voice. We don’t always know how to grow. We don't always know how to learn from our mistakes. For the first time, our questions don’t have answers.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled to make the Torah meaningful to me. In first grade, the boys in my class had already found strong and charismatic role models in Moses, Aaron, Abraham, and countless others. I, and the other girls in my class, were left to search for leaders in soft-spoken and often overlooked sisters and mothers.
After the profound depression and helplessness I felt on Friday, I woke up on Saturday energized and hopeful. As I got my coffee and walked to the train for the Women's March in Boston, I saw a multitude of pink pussy hats, rolled up signs, discreet pins. I felt like the whole city was part of something, that my people were all around me. I was delighted rather than upset by the many trains that passed my station, completely full, and grateful when the MBTA opened a fresh train on the maintenance track to handle the overflow.
On Saturday, I joined hundreds of thousands of people in Washington, DC, to march for women’s rights, human rights, and to represent the strong resistance against the bigotry and disrespect of the new administration. I’ve participated in many marches before, but this one felt unique: the largest, most peaceful, most loving and fired up gathering I’ve ever experienced. The Women’s March was both a balm and an outlet for the fear and disillusionment of the recent months, and I hope just a warm-up for the organizing and resistance to come.
It’s so disheartening to me that our religious text calls something as natural as a woman’s period, “impure.” A period is nothing to be ashamed of, and this text only adds to the stigma surrounding them.
After long afternoons turn into endless evenings and restless nights, I still wake up in the morning feeling wholly replenished. With the ring of my alarm clock comes the thought that I can take on the day, no matter how tired I am.
Tuesday, November 8, 2016, started out as a great day. At 6:45 AM, I eagerly jumped out of bed, brushed my teeth, and put on my “Hillary: Smashing the Glass Ceiling 2016” t-shirt and Rosie the Riveter socks. Once I got to school, I was too excited to focus in any of my classes. During lunch, I took some cute pictures with my friend who was also sporting Hillary apparel, and confidently voted in my school’s mock election (Hillary won with 73%). I was so pumped that I even managed to ignore the cluster of boys that hissed and yelled “Hillary for prison” at me on my way to math class.
Miriam is one of many strong women described in the Jewish texts, and is far too often forgotten when we retell our stories. Two stories stand out to me in illustrating that Miriam is a truly wise and courageous woman: when Miriam saves her brother Moses in his youth, and when she leads the Jewish people in celebration after they successfully cross the Red Sea to safety.
Laws, tradition, and God are words that typically come to mind when you think of Judaism. In my Bat Mitzvah parsha (Torah reading), Lech Lecha, these words are relevant, but not the ones that stuck out to me.
At JWA, we believe that history is not only about the past, but also about the present—it’s unfolding every day. Recent events have made us more keenly aware than ever that we’re living through history in the making. And not just witnessing it—we are part of it, makers of history with each action we take.
Taken together, those actions tell a story—a story about how people protest, honor, resist, and remember; about how we struggle, hope, dream, and make change.
There is a repeated scene throughout Hidden Figures in which Katherine Goble Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) types her name into the bylines of her reports only to be told that “computers” (most of whom are women) don’t author papers; she must erase her identity from her work. This scene helps explain why the contributions of Johnson and other women were forgotten for so long, but it also says something important about which stories, and whose contributions, we validate as part of our culture.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Blog." (Viewed on April 23, 2017) <https://jwa.org/blog>.