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National Organization of Women Meeting

Stories matter, now more than ever

Stories will heal us—individually and as a nation. So reach out to someone and share a story or engage in conversation. We offer these questions as conversation starters.

Clinton Family Portrait

The Radical Shift When Women Lead

So, you want me to explain why I think Hillary Clinton should be president without mentioning her gender. And I get it. I’m not sure why you need me to defend her against someone as unqualified as her opponent, but I do understand the question. I hear you when you say that Hillary’s gender can’t be the sole reason to elect her. I didn’t want Carly Fiorina to be president. Her vision for our country was wholly at odds with mine, and her gender didn’t outweigh that. Arguing that we should not elect our next president solely on the basis of gender is a totally understandable argument.

Cartoon Image of a Girl Looking Embarrassed

Can I Ask You Something?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve butted heads with Orthodox men. There was the time in third grade when I volunteered to sing the Torah trope, but was discouraged  by a boy in my class who said that “girls don’t actually read Torah at their bat mitzvahs.” In other words, why bother? Then in sixth grade, when all I wanted was to learn advanced Talmud,  I was met with a discrediting, “okay, Abigail, okay. We’ll see.” 

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Season Two Poster

Second Season with Crazy

I started watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend during the long days of summer. I had seen earlier videos by Rachel Bloom, the creator and star of CEG, including a “Santa Baby” parody for Hanukkah and her interpretation of a bar mitzvah student’s day dream. I pressed “play” hoping  her television show would bring the same well-produced music videos and irreverence about stereotypes––especially stereotypes of Jewish women. The first season surpassed my expectations.

Lea Rubel, An Advocate for Senior Rights in Detroit

Stories from the Archives: The Power of a Voice

This article is part of the series From the Archives. From the Archives highlights primary sources that have changed the course of history, for an individual, a community, or the world.

Topics: Civil Rights
2016-2017 Rising Voices Fellow Maya Jodidio Pipetting DNA into a Gel

Whoever Said Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend Never Saw a Girl Doing Science

High school boys often try to explain physics or calculus problems to me in a way that clearly implies they think I have no idea what I’m doing. Sometimes a classmate asks me a science question and almost immediately a male peer nearby says, “Don’t worry! I can explain this if she can’t!” In addition to mansplaining, jokes about feminism and subtle sexist comments occur on a daily basis at my high school, so I’ve become used to it. 

2016-2017 Rising Voices Fellow Sarah Biskowitz and her Sister Lighting Shabbat Candles

The Ham Sandwich

Looking back, I now know that the comment about my sandwich choice was an extremely inappropriate thing for a coach to say to a student. It was also just rude. But most of all, it capitalized on my outsider-ness. 

Stock Image of Girl Wearing Athletic Jersey and Visor

Fifth Grade Feminist Football Fight

I didn’t want to play football, I just wasn’t accustomed to being told no, especially without being given a logical reason. So the right for girls to play football, which I could’ve cared less about personally, became a cause for which I fought with persistence.

2016-2017 Rising Voices Fellow Isabel Kirsch and her Twin Brother as Infants

Almost Identical

I have a twin brother. Most people, upon finding this out, ask if we’re identical. In the scientific sense of the word, my brother, Jacob, and I are fraternal twins, and I always have to suppress a laugh when I’m asked this question because it’s biologically impossible that we’re identical. However, except for our gender difference, Jacob and I share many social identifiers that influence how we experience the world. 

Topics: Schools, Children
2016-2017 Rising Voices Fellow Molly Pifko with her Bat Mitzvah Project Display

Honey and Hanukah: How Food Justice has shaped my Judaism

Food and food justice had always been something that my family and I were passionate about, so I decided that for my Bat Mitzvah project, I would found a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program at my temple. CSA is a system in which customers pay a deposit in exchange for weekly bags of fresh vegetables, giving farmers more financial security, and the customer a steady supply of healthy, environmentally friendly, and in-season produce. 

Nasty Women Protest

Nasty Women, Unite!

When Donald Trump muttered the word “nasty” into his microphone at the third presidential debate, all I could think of was a quote by Bella Abzug. Presciently, while advocating for women in the 1970s, the New York senator said, “The Establishment is made up of little men, very frightened.” Trump’s choice to use the word “nasty” in an attempt to silence someone who disagrees with him reads as the definition of a little man to me, and Trump is a little man who is very frightened.

2016-2017 Rising Voices Fellow Katy Ronkin at Camp

From Camp Gyno to Women’s Health Activist

The summer of 2013 was when I taught my bunk at Camp Young Judaea that girls have more than two holes “down there.” Now for those uninitiated with the workings of a girls’ bunk, this may seem crazy or even obscene. However, for us, this was just another lesson in a long line of facts about the female body I had told my bunkmates that summer. 

2016-2017 Rising Voices Fellow Tess Kelly at her Bat Mitzvah

The Cleveland Jew’s Dilemma

Nearly 200 years ago, residents of the West Side of Cleveland destroyed the bridge that connected the banks of the Cuyahoga river, separating themselves from East Cleveland, and intending to become their own city. Since then, we’ve built a new bridge and stayed a single city, but we still haven’t gotten over our differences. East Siders think that West Siders are blue-collar conservatives who have failed to build up their communities. West Siders think that East Siders are snobby, rich, white people who never leave their suburban bubble. 

"Shelo Asani Isha" Blessing

The Oxymoron of Jewish Feminism

I had fallen so deeply in love with Jewish text study that I neglected to see the many ways in which I was not represented in those texts. The tension became clear: How could I honor  a tradition that did not make space for me as a female? 

1960 Presidential Campaign Buttons

From the Polls: Voting for “Nixon”

With the 2016 election only weeks away, the JWA staff wanted to share one of our favorite stories submitted to JWA’s ongoing collection of voting stories! In a year when “the women’s vote” is both highly scrutinized and vital to the election outcome, we especially love the following story detailing one determined young mother's inventive method of finding childcare so she could exercise her right to vote.

This story was submitted by Mae T.

2016-2017 Rising Voices Fellow Maya Jodidio at her Bat Mitzvah

Secular Bat Mitzvahs? Yes, they do exist!

When I was in 7th grade, all of my Jewish friends complained about having to memorize Torah portions and prayers for their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. I had a Bat Mitzvah too, but mine was secular and didn't include these traditional elements. My secular ceremony was different than any other Bar or Bat Mitzvah, and that is what made it so special to me. 

2016-2017 Rising Voices Fellow Diana Myers Wearing Tefillin

Binding My Religious and Feminist Identities Together

I started wearing tefillin at camp. I was fourteen and I had a lot of ideas about overthrowing patriarchal Judaism, and I thought it looked cool. Tefillin are traditionally worn only by Jewish men who have reached bar mitzvah age (thirteen), although Conservative and Reform Judaism, some of the more liberal sects of Judaism, are very accepting of women wrapping as well. 

Pumpkin Spice Rugelach, Plated

Eating Jewish: Pumpkin Spice Rugelach

Hi Everyone! Hope you all had a wonderful Rosh Hashanah, a meaningful Yom Kippur, and an easy fast. And next in the annual fall marathon of Jewish holidays, I hope you have a great Sukkot. In honor of this holiday, filled with stuffed foods and fall vegetables, I’ve put together a recipe for pumpkin spice rugelach.

2016-2017 Rising Voices Fellow Aliza Abusch-Magder with her Mom

My Jewish Feminist Roots and The Fruit of My Mother’s Labor

My mother struggled her whole life to bring her love of Judaism and her expectation of gender equality together. I was raised on the foundation that she had worked tirelessly to build. 

2016-2017 Rising Voices Fellow Sarah Biskowitz with her Sister and Friend

A Podcast That Sounds Like Me

“‘We talk about current events, friendship, Beyoncé, and politics,’ Aminatou Sow said in Episode One of the podcast Call Your Girlfriend. I smiled to myself. That’s exactly what I talk about with my friends, I thought.”

NFTY STR Spring Kallah 2016

Leading a Sea of Voices

I never realized that it was possible for my whole outlook on Judaism to be transformed in an hour and a half, or that a few moments of hearing voices come together in prayer could move me so deeply. But that’s exactly what happened when I led my youth group in Shabbat services this past March. 

Ray Frank

“In a Place Where There Are No Men”

The 21st century in general, and this season in particular, is a high stakes time in the congregational rabbinate. Taking a break from my annual scramble to produce four 20-minute sermons that will change the course of history (that’s really what it feels like), I had the opportunity to re-read some High Holy Day words that actually did change the course of history.

Topics: Yom Kippur
The Blue Coat School: Birmingham, UK

How the WASP-iest School in America Taught Me to be a Feminist

I would understand if upperclassmen boys bad-mouthed feminism – they tend to have the need to silence strong women. But our head of school? The first female to hold this position at my school? What kind of example does that set for new girls on campus? 

Topics: Feminism, Schools
Hands in the Shape of a Heart

Power Through Words

Boys in my preschool told me that I should like pink. “Boys like blue and girls like pink;” that was their reasoning. They told me that if I wanted to play with them at recess I couldn’t “act like a girl.” I didn’t understand what they meant, but I agreed to the terms. While things like this didn’t bother me in preschool, as I got older, people’s choice of words started to have more and more of an impact on me. 

Topics: Feminism, Schools
Melissa Benoist as Supergirl

It's A Bird! It's a Plane! It's a Feminist!

I admit, I am woefully late to the party on Supergirl. I tried the pilot episode when it came out last year and found it a little campy and contrived next to my usual superhero and science-fiction fare. And by the time I gave it another try, late in the season, most of the previous episodes weren’t available online anymore.

But to drum up enthusiasm for Season Two, Season One is finally available on Netflix, and bingeing it hasn’t just been a guilty pleasure, it’s pushed me to look at massive blind spots I still have in my assumptions about feminism and pop culture.

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Jewish Women's Archive. "Blog." (Viewed on January 23, 2017) <https://jwa.org/blog>.

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