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:

Bonus Episode: A Bintel Brief: For Richer or Poorer

While we're hard at work preparing for Can We Talk's fall season, enjoy this episode of A Bintel Brief, an advice show with a Jewish twist, from our friends at The Forward. In this episode, For Richer or Poorer, hosts Ginna Green and Lynn Harris give their advice to a 30-something woman looking to settle down with a long-term partner. She might've found the perfect match—but if they got married, he definitely wouldn't be the breadwinner.

Can We Talk? 2021-22 Season Wrap

That's a wrap! In this episode of Can We Talk?, Nahanni Rous, Jen Richler, and Judith Rosenbaum recap the Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 seasons—from the story of an underground abortion collective in the years before Roe to the 100-year history of the American bat mitzvah to our "Word of the Week" mini-series, and much more. 

Episode 80: Toxic Hookup Culture in Jewish Youth Groups and Summer Camps

Jewish summer camps and youth movements are a time-honored tradition—tens of thousands of Jewish teens participate. But a group of young Jews is calling out what they say is a “toxic hookup culture” in many of these institutions. In this episode of Can We Talk?, Jen Richler talks with Dahlia Soussan, Ellanora Lerner and Madeline Canfield, three of the founders of Jewish Teens for Empowered Consent, about how they hope to change the culture. Please note, there are sexual references in this episode.

Episode 79: Word of the Week: Eshet Chayil

 "A woman of valor, who can find? Her worth is far beyond rubies..." So begins a 22-verse acrostic poem from the Book of Proverbs. The poem showers praise on an unnamed woman of valor—eshet chayil, in Hebrew—and is sung in some Jewish families on Friday night before the Shabbat meal. In the final installment of our Word of the Week series, we talk with Rena Nickerson, Miriam Anzovin and Rachel Stomel about the meaning of Eshet Chayil today and their memories of singing it growing up.

Episode 78: Word of the Week: Gaslighting

From MSNBC to Fox News, the word "gaslighting" is everywhere these days. But where does it come from and what does it mean? This time in our Word of the Week series, we dig into the ubiquitous term: its roots in a 1944 Hollywood thriller, how it has come to be used today, and whether it's still a useful word. We speak with linguist Rachel Steindel Burdin and psychotherapist Robin Stern. We'll also hear from comedian Judy Gold and Tik Tok star Miriam Anzovin.

Episode 77: Word of the Week: Yenta

How did a popular Yiddish woman's name come to mean gossip and busybody? In the first of our new Word of the Week mini-series, we trace the evolution of the word yenta. Producer Jen Richler talks with Fiddler on the Roof scholar Jan Lisa Huttner, comedian Judy Gold, author Lizzie Skurnick, and Tik Tok star and Torah commentator Miriam Anzovin. And in a special cameo...Yente the Matchmaker herself!

Episode 76: Message From Ukraine

Vlada Nedak lives in Kryvyi Rih in central Ukraine, only an hour's drive from the front lines of the war. She's a wife and mother and the owner of a menagerie of household pets. She's also the Executive Director of Project Kesher Ukraine, a network of Jewish women building community and leadership. When Russia invaded Ukraine, like many Ukrainians, Vlada was faced with the difficult choice of whether to stay or try to leave the country. In this episode of Can We Talk?, Nahanni speaks with Vlada about her experiences of the war and about how it has affected the women in Project Kesher's network.

Episode 75: Eleanor Reissa's Invisible Birthmark

After a career spent telling other people's stories, Eleanor Reissa has finally uncovered her own. It started with 56 letters she found in a drawer while cleaning out her late mother's apartment. They were letters from her father to her mother, just a few years after they had both survived World War II. The letters sent Eleanor on a search to retrace her family history in Europe, which she chronicles in her new memoir, The Letters Project: A Daughter's Journey. In this episode of Can We Talk?, Nahanni Rous talks with Eleanor about how her life has been defined by being the daughter of people who lived through the Holocaust.

Episode 74: A Half-Century of Women Rabbis

Fifty years ago, Rabbi Sally Priesand made history by becoming the first woman rabbi in America. In this episode of Can We Talk?, women rabbis from three Jewish denominations reflect on the milestone. We speak with Rabbi Dianne Cohler-Esses, Rabba Sara Hurwitz, and Rabbi Sandra Lawson about the challenges they’ve faced, and about how their presence in the rabbinate is shaping the Jewish community. This is the final episode in our three-part anniversary series.

Episode 73: An Orange Belongs on the Seder Plate Like...

Hard-boiled egg—check. Greens—check. Charoset, maror, shank bone—check. These are the traditional seder plate items that represent the themes of Passover. Many people have also adopted the feminist tradition of including an orange... but what does it symbolize, and how come so many people have the story wrong? In this episode of Can We Talk?, host Nahanni Rous talks with Susannah Heschel, who created the ritual in the 1980s, about the real meaning behind the orange. She also talks with her aunt and cousin, who introduced the orange to the Rous family seder.  

Episode 72: Ezrat Nashim Confronts the Rabbis

Fifty years ago, a group of young Jewish women piled into two cars and drove to upstate New York to crash the annual meeting of the all-male Rabbinical Assembly of the Conservative movement. They called themselves Ezrat Nashim and they had a set of demands that included the right to be counted in a minyan, lead religious services, and attend rabbinical school. Their brief but brave action had ripple effects across American Jewish communities.

Episode 71: Bat Mitzvah at 100

On March 18, 1922, Judith Kaplan made history when she stood in front of her Manhattan congregation and had America's first bat mitzvah ceremony. Judith's bat mitzvah was groundbreaking at the time, but it didn't look like most bat mitzvahs today. In this episode of Can We Talk?, producer Jen Richler talks with Professor Carole Balin about how the bat mitzvah has evolved over the past century, and how girls and their parents have pushed for that evolution. Carole is working on a book based on interviews with dozens of women, representing many decades of bat mitzvah history.

Episode 70: Jane: Abortion Before Roe

"Pregnant? Don't want to be? Call Jane." That was the catchphrase of the Chicago-based Abortion Counseling Service of Women's Liberation, better known as Jane. Before Roe v. Wade made abortion legal, the women of Jane provided safe, illegal, and affordable abortions to nearly 12,000 women in the Chicago area until seven "Janes" were arrested in 1972. In this episode of Can We Talk?, we hear from Jeanne Galatzer-Levy and Judith Arcana, two of the "Abortion Seven," as well as Jane founder Heather Booth.

Episode 69: Dara Horn: People Love Dead Jews

Dara Horn’s new book is a departure from her usual imaginative fiction. It’s a collection of essays provocatively titled People Love Dead Jews. She also has a companion podcast called Adventures with Dead Jews. In both, Dara explores the subtler side of antisemitism, in which the role Jews play in the non-Jewish imagination has little to do with real Jewish lives.

Episode 68: Beyond the Count: Talking to Jews of Color

"What would it be like if we could daven and engage in Jewish life without having to endure racism?" says Ilana Kaufman, Executive Director of the Jews of Color Initiative. In a recent survey of Jews of Color by Ilana's organization, most respondents report facing racism and discrimination in majority white Jewish communal settings, and they don't think Jewish leadership is doing enough about it.

Episode 67: E. Lockhart's New Jewish Superhero

It's a bird...it's a plane...it's Willow Zimmerman! Willow is a social justice-minded Jewish teenager. She loves a hot salty reuben, bakes her own rugelach, and enjoys hanging out with a stray dog named Leibowitz. She’s also the latest Gotham City superhero. In this episode of Can We Talk?, producer Jen Richler talks with novelist E. Lockhart about creating Willow for DC Comics.

Episode 66: Eye to Eye with Joan Biren

In 1971, photographer Joan Biren, also known as JEB, started doing something revolutionary: documenting the everyday lives of lesbians. This was an era when you could lose everything—your job, your apartment, even your kids— if people knew you were gay. Joan published her first book Eye To Eye: Portraits of Lesbians, in 1979, and the book was reissued this year. In this episode of Can We Talk?, Judith Rosenbaum talks with Joan about her photography, and the way her Jewish, lesbian, and feminist identities have intersected throughout her life.

Episode 65: Regendering the Torah

Yael Kanarek wanted a more direct relationship with the Divine than she experienced through male-centric Jewish sacred texts-- so she rewrote the Torah.  In Toratah, or Her Torah, Yael has switched the genders of each character.  The result is a familiar text that resonates very differently, with a new set of matriarchs and patriarchs, and stories that draw new connections and pose new questions.

Episode 64: Anita Diamant Talks Menstrual Justice

Menstrual justice is the latest front in the global fight for gender equality. Author Anita Diamant's new book, Period. End of Sentence, explores the stigma around menstruation and efforts around the world to ensure that menstruating people are not denied access to education, work, and full participation in society. Anita, whose 1997 best seller The Red Tent imagined a special retreat where the Biblical matriarchs went when they were having their periods, says in the modern day, menstrual justice has become "part of the justice language."

Episode 63: JIMENA: Mizrahi and Sephardi Voices

The 20th century brought major disruptions to Jewish communities all over the world. In the Middle East and North Africa, over one million Jews fled places where Jewish communities had existed for over 2,000 years. The organization JIMENA (Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa) works to preserve the cultural memory and heritage of Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews. In this episode, producer Asal Ehsanipour and JIMENA's Executive Director Sarah Levin share highlights from some of the oral stories preserved in JIMENA's archive and talk about their own family histories.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Can We Talk? The JWA Podcast." (Viewed on September 29, 2022) <https://jwa.org/podcasts/canwetalk>.

Donate

Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

Get JWA in your inbox