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Can We Talk? The JWA Podcast

Each month on Can We Talk?, JWA's podcast team brings you stories and conversations about Jewish women and the issues that shape our public and private lives. You can listen and subscribe on most podcast platforms, including:

Episode 105: Hear Their Voices: Sexual Violence on October 7

When Hamas terrorists attacked Israel on October 7, they raped, tortured, and mutilated women’s bodies in unimaginable ways. News about the sexual violence emerged within days, but few women’s organizations spoke up to condemn it. Some even questioned whether the claims were true. In this episode of Can We Talk?, we discuss the sexual violence of October 7, the effort to collect evidence, and the international response—or lack thereof.  We speak with Hadas Ziv, who co-authored a Physicians for Human Rights Israel paper on the crimes, and Sheila Katz, CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women, one of the sponsors of a recent event at the United Nations aimed at calling attention to the sexual assaults. We’ll also hear excerpts of testimonies given at the UN by people who saw evidence of sexual violence on the bodies of women killed by Hamas. 

Please note, this episode contains graphic descriptions of sexual violence.

Episode 104: Crying and Doing: Iris Bahr and her Aging Mother

Iris Bahr was halfway around the world when she saw her mother having a stroke over video chat. Within days, she was on an airplane, uprooting her life to become her mother’s primary caregiver. The stroke led to vascular dementia– an irreversible condition. Iris is a writer and actor and chronicles the story in a poignant—and funny— one-woman show See You Tomorrow.  In this episode of Can We Talk?, Nahanni speaks with Iris Bahr about caring for her aging mother and about creating art from personal tragedy. Excerpts from Iris’s show are woven throughout the interview.

Episode 103: Kugels and Collards: The Southern Jewish Table

Food can be a vehicle for telling stories, connecting with people, and understanding our history—including the uncomfortable parts. In this episode of Can We Talk?, Jen Richler heads to Charleston, South Carolina to learn about Southern Jewish history through the lens of food. Over a home-cooked meal, Jen talks with Rachel Gordin Barnett and Lyssa Kligman Harvey, co-authors of the new book Kugels & Collards: Stories of Food, Family, and Tradition in Jewish South Carolina. She also talks with Dale Rosengarten, a scholar of Southern Jewish history, and Kim Cliett Long, a scholar whose rich family story weaves together Jewish and African American identities.  

Episode 102: One Month Later

Today, November 7, 2023, marks one month since the Hamas attacks on Israel, when 1,400 people in Israel were killed. A month has passed, which feels both like a lifetime and like one long, terrible day. This tragedy is present and raw and still unfolding. Close to 250 Israelis and foreign citizens are still being held captive in Gaza. At least 30 Israeli soldiers have been killed in Gaza. The Palestinian health ministry says that over 10,000 Palestinians have been killed. Israelis and Palestinians and people all around the world are in mourning.

In this episode of Can We Talk?, we share Rabbi Ayelet Cohen's remarks at a recent vigil in Manhattan, and end with a moment of silence, like the one observed today in Israel.

Episode 101: The Women's War Room

Israel has been at war with Hamas for nearly a month. Israeli and Palestinian casualties are devastating–and mounting. In Israel, women are on the front lines of a major grassroots mobilization: providing emergency relief to a country in crisis. An army of volunteers of all ages and genders has stepped in to organize clothing, food, and housing for displaced Israelis; students and therapists are working with traumatized kids; and programmers are building apps to connect people with services. Many of these efforts have emerged from organizations that originally formed to protest the Netanyahu government's proposed judicial reforms. They’ve now shifted gears to respond to the current crisis in Israel. In this episode, we speak with Lee Hoffman Agiv, Field Operations Manager of the feminist organization Bonot Alternativa (Building an Alternative), who’s coordinating efforts from Bonot’s “war room.”

Episode 100: Missing Vivian Silver

Vivian Silver has been missing since October 7, the day Hamas terrorists murdered more than 1,400 people in Israel and took more than 200 hostages to Gaza. Since then, more than 3,000 Palestinian civilians have been killed by Israel's air strikes in Gaza. Vivian is 74 years old, from Kibbutz Be’eri, on the Gaza border. In this episode, we speak with her friend Ariella Giniger, who was in touch with Vivian as Hamas terrorists entered her house on the morning of October 7.  We’ll also hear parts of our 2017 interview with Vivian, an active member of Women Wage Peace, a movement of thousands of Israeli and Palestinian women demanding a peaceful solution to the conflict.
(Postscript: On November 13, Vivian Silver was declared dead after her remains were found at her home. May her memory be a blessing.) 

Episode 99: A Wish in Dark Days

It's been a terrifying week of violence in Israel. Instead of our planned episode of Can We Talk?, this week we offer a poem called “Mishalot”—requests, or wishes—by Esther Raab, one of modern Hebrew’s first female poets, born in Israel in 1894.  She wrote “Mishalot” in 1967, around the time of the Six-Day War. The poem is a reminder that even in dark days, hope can be part of our legacy.

Episode 98: By Disabled Jews, For Disabled Jews

What did JOIN for Justice, the Jewish Organizing Institute and Network, do when the pandemic made its in-person community organizing fellowship impossible? It turned the obstacle into an opportunity, shifting to a virtual fellowship specifically for people with disabilities. 

Over seven months in 2021, a cohort of Jewish young adults with a wide range of disabilities, race and gender identities, and social justice interests met online for JOIN’s Access to Power Fellowship.  In this episode of Can We Talk?, we hear from the Access To Power director and two participants about how the fellowship shaped them, how their Jewish and disabled identities intersect, and why disabled people should be at the forefront of movements for social change.

Episode 97: Golda Reconsidered

Golda Meir is known as Israel's "Iron Lady": gruff, chain-smoking, and fiercely ambitious. In the eyes of many, she was also responsible for the Yom Kippur War, which cost thousands of lives. But Golda's story is far more complex.

In this episode of Can We Talk?, as we approach 50 years since the Yom Kippur War, we go beyond the caricatures and talk about aspects of Golda's career that are often overlooked: the ways she helped build the fledgling state of Israel, her relationship with Israel’s Mizrahim, and her complicated attitude toward feminism. We speak with Guy Nattiv, director of the new film Golda, starring Helen Mirren, and with author Francine Klagsbrun, whose biography of Golda, Lioness, came out in 2017. 

Bonus Episode: Granfran in the Uber

While we’re hard at work on our fall season, which launches Sept 12, enjoy this bonus episode from Joia Putnoi. Joia recorded this conversation with her grandmother Fran Putnoi, or “Granfran,” for a college class. It's about passing recipes and stories from one generation of Jewish women to the next. We think you’ll love it.

Episode 96: Can We Talk? 2022-23 Season Wrap

That's a wrap! In this episode of Can We Talk?, Nahanni Rous, Jen Richler, and Judith Rosenbaum recap the Fall 2022 and Spring 2023 seasons—from a celebration at a queer Jewish chicken farm to the fight for Israel's "chained women" to reproductive rights after Roe, and much more. 

Episode 95: Word of the Week: Shiksa

From Portnoy’s Complaint to Seinfeld, the word “shiksa” is firmly embedded in popular culture. Where does the word come from, and how has its meaning changed over time? In this episode, we’re bringing back our “Word of the Week,” feature, where we dig into one word and explore how it relates to Jewish women. Gitl Schaechter-Viswanath, Keren McGinity, and Kylie Ora Lobell give us their takes.

Episode 94: Rebbetzins in America

What did talented, dedicated Jewish women do before they could become rabbis? Some became rebbetzins. In this episode of Can We Talk?, we’re looking at the changing role of the rebbetzin—the rabbi’s wife. Women have been rabbis in America for just over half a century, but for as long as there have been rabbis, there have been rabbi’s wives—and they've often served as leaders, too. We'll hear from Shuly Rubin Schwartz, author of The Rabbi’s Wife: The Rebbetzin in American Jewish Life, and from three spouses of rabbis.

Episode 93: Alice Shalvi: Israeli Feminist Pioneer

Alice Shalvi has been an Israeli feminist pioneer for decades. Born in Germany and raised in England, she moved to Israel in 1949, a young woman excited to help build a new state. She’s spent her life there, working for gender equality and a more just society. In this episode of Can We Talk?, Judith Rosenbaum joins us to tell Alice’s story, and to talk about the ways she’s fought to make Israel a better country. You'll also hear excerpts from conversations between Judith and Alice.

 

 

Episode 92: Beyond the Binary: Making Hebrew More Gender-Inclusive

Hebrew is a very gendered language; every noun in Hebrew is either feminine or masculine. So are pronouns, including “I” and “you.” This makes it nearly impossible to utter a sentence in Hebrew without using gender. So as a Hebrew speaker, how do you refer to a mixed-gender group? What about nonbinary people? In this episode of Can We Talk?, we speak with Michal Shomer, Dafna Eisenreich, and Tal Jenner-Klausner, three activists who are taking Hebrew beyond the gender binary and promoting a Hebrew language that includes people of all genders.

Episode 91: Israel at 75: Voices of Protest

Israel turns 75 this week. This milestone comes at a moment of unprecedented upheaval in Israeli society and escalating violence between Israelis and Palestinians. Over the past few months, around 1.5 million Israelis have poured into the streets to protest the judicial reforms proposed by Netanyahu’s far-right coalition government, which would weaken the power of the Supreme Court.

In this episode of Can We Talk?, we'll hear four Jewish Israeli women from diverse backgrounds reflect on how the country arrived at this tumultuous moment. They'll talk about their hopes and fears for the country, and what the protests have meant to them.

Episode 90: Reproductive Rights After Roe

When the Supreme Court issued the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v Wade, it eliminated the constitutional right to an abortion. As of April 2023, it is now essentially illegal to have an abortion in 15 states. That means limited to no access to terminating a pregnancy. But many people don't realize these bans also affect people who want to get pregnant. Jessica Kalb, Lisa Sobel, and Sarah Baron are among those people. They're suing their home state of Kentucky for its abortion ban, claiming it violates their right to grow their families and their religious freedom as Jews. In this episode of Can We Talk?, we bring you a story about the far-reaching consequences of the Dobbs decision, and three Jewish women who are fighting back. 

Episode 89: Samira Mehta On The Racism of People Who Love You

Samira Mehta is the daughter of a white American mother and a South Asian immigrant father.  She’s also a Jew by choice and a scholar of American religious history and women’s and gender studies. Her new book, The Racism of People Who Love You examines the subtle, everyday racism of intimate interactions. In this episode of Can We Talk?, Judith Rosenbaum speaks with Samira about her identity, the differences between racial and cultural privilege, and the conversations about racism and belonging that inspired the book.

Episode 88: Jewish Women Behind the Mic

Here at Can We Talk?, we’re podcast fanatics. And we especially like shows that feature Jewish women’s voices. So we decided to bring together some of our favorite Jewish women podcasters to talk shop. In this episode of Can We Talk?, Judith Rosenbaum takes us behind the scenes with Stephanie Butnick from Unorthodox, Judy Gold from Kill Me Now, and Emily Bazelon from Slate's Political Gabfest, to talk about what makes their shows Jewish, sharing the mic with men, and answering to their listeners.

Episode 87: Jodi Kantor Said

In 2017, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey broke the New York Times story about Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s sexual abuse of women. They chronicled the experience in their book She Said, which was made into a film by the same title in 2022. In this episode of Can We Talk?, Nahanni Rous talks with Jodi Kantor about how Weinstein tried to pull the “Jew-to-Jew” card with her, what she learned about taking on a bully, and how she felt about the film’s portrayal of her as a working mom.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Can We Talk? The JWA Podcast." (Viewed on March 4, 2024) <http://jwa.org/podcasts/canwetalk>.