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.
When I first read my assigned Bat Mitzvah parsha (Torah portion), Ki Teitzei, my response was one of shock and disgust. The parsha discusses the guidelines for punishing an engaged virgin who lies with another man, outlining different punishments depending upon where the activity occurs.
Oh, bras. Is there any garment more ubiquitous and more controversial to the modern Western feminist? We’ve all spent too much money on a bra that fell apart too soon; we’ve all chafed under uncomfortable underwire or too-tight straps; we’ve all wrestled with the question of whether to wear a bra at all. At first glance, intimate apparel might seem like a trivial topic but think about this: these garments have literally shaped millions of women’s bodies every single day for centuries. They have a concrete, physical presence in so many of our daily lives.
The matriarchs are complex women, who do not always behave “perfectly,” or in the manner we would expect of our biblical female role models. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the story of Hagar, Sarah’s one-time slave, and Abraham’s one-time concubine.
When I was younger, I learned about a woman who drove a people from war times to peace. She was widely respected in a male dominated era, and she was one of only seven women who spoke to God directly. The protagonist of the story is the prophetess Deborah.
On January 21, 2017, women across the country will come together to march in protest of a Trump presidency. Earlier this year, across the world, another passionate group of women rose up to speak out against violence and to stand in support of peace. The Women Wage Peace (WWP) movement planned and executed their signature event this October: the March for Hope.
Every year, my temple holds a women’s seder on the second night of Passover. This ritual has always been important to me because throughout my Jewish education, I have clung to stories as the basis for my learning.
If you want to ask your (future) rabbi a personal question, it should be: “How can we best support you?”
A few years ago, I wrote a blog post comparing rabbinical placement to dating. It was meant to be lighthearted advice for my colleagues as they searched for “the one”: a congregation that would nurture and challenge them during the next phase of their career. Now, as some of my new colleagues enter the job market for the first time, I have some advice for the search committees.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Blog." (Viewed on June 23, 2017) <https://jwa.org/blog>.