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.
We all know the story. The courageous Maccabees, the oil that lasted for a miraculous eight nights. We all know the branded fable, the great tale of Hanukkah that has been recited again and again in synagogues and religious schools forever. But it isn’t the whole story.
When I was still pretty small—in first grade, or maybe kindergarten—someone gave me a book for my birthday. This wasn’t an unusual event; I’ve received more books as presents in my seventeen years than I think most people end up owning in their entire lifetime. What was unusual was that this book was by a Jewish woman, and about Jewish girls, like me.
I was five when I saw Star Wars for the first time at my friend Danny’s house. We loved it so much that we spent the next two years playing games where we clambered up on rocks and swung down on tree branches like we were maneuvering through the Death Star together.
You may be uncomfortable reading a blog post about a vibrator inventor written by a sixteen-year-old, but bear with me. I have a great deal of admiration for Alexandra Fine, who graduated Columbia with an advanced degree in Human Psychology, and started a successful business at the age of twenty-six.
I’ll admit it: 2016 has brought some seriously challenging moments, and I won’t be sad to turn the calendar’s page to a fresh new year. But before we move boldly ahead into 2017, let’s reflect on the standout moments—both highs and lows—for Jewish women this year. In no particular order, here are my top ten memorable moments for Jewish women in 2016 ...
But I don’t want to be silent. After all, it’s not silent women who get stuff done, it’s an explosion of nasty women. So, in thinking about how to move forward and stand my ground, I look to the past. I look to a woman who got stuff done. I look to Anita Pollitzer.
What got my attention wasn’t the writing, though it does connect us. I wasn’t drawn in by the poetry or the Judaism or any of the other traits I share with this woman. No, what caught my eye was the measles. Grace Aguilar: British/Jewish novelist, poet extraordinaire, religious writer, social historian, and liturgist; and I wanted to write about her because of the measles.
For many years, while Christmas celebrators were dressing in their finest ugly holiday apparel, those of us who wanted to celebrate Hanukkah were left out in the cold, sans kitschy knitwear. What was a festive Jew to do while the Christians flaunted their light-up Rudolf sweatshirts and tinsel appliques? How could she attend a party without a dancing rabbi knit into her shirt? Could she light the menorah with no dreidels emblazoned on her sleeves?
Luckily, those days are behind us.
In the late forties and early fifties, a time when many refused to listen to female voices, Polier made her voice heard. She was published in various legal journals and other opinion pieces, and never filtered her views so that others could digest them more easily. She didn’t mince words or walk on eggshells to sound more feminine. Her writing was unadulterated social criticism.
In times of struggle, uncertainty, and fear, we are called to act. In the recent words of Charles Blow in the New York Times, “America needs you … now. Speak up.”
But, for those of us who do not identify as activists—those of us who are speaking up for the first time within the political system, those of us who are realizing that we need to move off of social media into more active engagement—it is easy to become discouraged and overwhelmed.
The Bed Moved, a new short story collection by Rebecca Schiff, features 23 stories with young female narrators. One of these women finds porn on her dead dad’s computer; another––a community college professor–– struggles with difficult, unmotivated students; still another wrestles with the question of whether to break up with a partner during a birthday trip to Boston.
Few women have been both scientists and social justice activists in their lifetimes. Both of these roles are time-consuming and challenging, yet somehow Tikvah Alper succeeded as a distinguished radiobiologist and as a fierce opponent to the apartheid in South Africa. She faced much opposition as a woman, but still managed to have a significant impact in both of these spheres.
“I want a commander in chief who will...ensure that the threat from...terrorists does not wash up on American soil….If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world,” said my governor, Republican Scott Walker, in February 2015.
The night before the election, I was too anxious to sleep, and in an effort to distract myself, I binge-watched the new Amazon series, Good Girls Revolt. Though the events it fictionalizes—when women brought a sex discrimination suit against Newsweek magazine—took place 47 years ago, it felt timely. As we stood on the cusp (I thought) of shattering the presidential glass ceiling, I reveled in watching young women in the waning days of the 1960s come into a sense of their own potential and their right to equal opportunity.
Many American Jews are surprised to discover that donuts—specifically, jelly donuts—are a traditional Hanukkah food. Eating donuts at Hanukkah dates back several centuries in Europe, and is associated with the holiday for the same reason latkes are—foods fried in oil are symbolic of the Hanukkah miracle of a small amount of oil lasting for eight days.
It certainly has been a crazy month, huh? Like many people, I was shocked and disheartened by the election of Donald Trump as the president of the United States. I know, I know. You’re sick of hearing about it and about the depressing and infuriating stories that accompany the president-elect. However, I want to talk about a Jewish lady who I’ve been thinking a lot about this past month, and in whom I’ve found comfort.
Since November 8th I’ve been thinking a lot about politics. Personally it was devastating to see Hillary Clinton lose the Presidential election. It took me a while to digest the news because nearly all the polls had predicted otherwise, and most people assumed it was a sealed deal.
The people who make stories a central focus of their life come in all genders, colors, creeds, and professions. JWA was lucky enough to speak with Paula J. Caplan, who first championed women’s stories as a clinical and research psychologist,and has now turned her attention, as a playwright, to the struggles that returning veterans face. Her newest play, Shades, is at the Cherry Lane Theatre in New York until December 17th.
If anyone has an indelible sparkle, it’s women’s rights activist and French politician Simone Veil. Although she’s not a household name in the United States, she’s regarded with unwavering praise and awe in France, her home country.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Blog." (Viewed on June 26, 2017) <https://jwa.org/blog>.