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 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.

Episode 62: The Mystery of Esther Brandeau

In 1738, a young Christian man stepped off a boat in the French colony of Quebec and was doubly outed as a Jew and a woman. Esther Brandeau was born around 1718 in Saint Esprit, a Jewish community on the outskirts of Bayonne, France. Brandeau was the first documented Jew to have set foot on Canadian soil, but she didn’t stay long. Historian and performing artist Heather Hermant tells the story for Can We Talk? and for JWA's revised and updated edition of the Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women.

Episode 61: Being Heumann with Judy Heumann

Judy Heumann is a lifelong disability rights activist—from fighting for her own right to live in a college dorm, to lobbying for the Americans with Disabilities Act, to leading major initiatives at the World Bank and State Department. Judy is committed to removing the barriers that prevent disabled people from fully participating in society, a topic she explores in-depth in her memoir, Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist. She tells her story for Can We Talk? and for JWA's revised and updated edition of the Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women.

Episode 60: The Jewish Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo

In 1976, a military dictatorship seized power in Argentina. The regime systematically kidnapped, tortured, and killed 30,000 people who were suspected of opposition. A year into the war, mothers of the "disappeared" began weekly protests in the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires demanding to know what had happened to their children. The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo kept up their protests for over 40 years and became a powerful movement for justice and human rights. Many of them were Jewish. Anthropologist Natasha Zaretsky tells their story for Can We Talk? and for JWA's revised and updated edition of the Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women.

Episode 59: Zohra El Fassia

Zohra El Fassia was born around 1905 near Fez, Morocco. She sang from the time she was a girl, and by the mid-20th century, she was a star. El Fassia recorded hundreds of songs for international record labels and performed regularly for the king in Rabat. When she moved to Israel in 1962, her career took a hit, but she sought out smaller venues and was soon rediscovered by younger Moroccan Israeli artists. Zohra El Fassia died in 1994. Writer and ethnomusicologist Tamar Sella tells her story for Can We Talk? and for JWA's revised and updated edition of the Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women.

Episode 58: Playing Fair with Eve Rodsky

Who does the laundry? Who takes the call from school when kids are sick? These are some of the questions author Eve Rodsky asks in her book and accompanying card game Fair Play. The pandemic has laid bare the unfair burden placed on women in the home—but could this be a moment to "re-deal the deck" as we rebuild our society? In this episode of Can We Talk?, Judith Rosenbaum talks to Eve about the dynamics around caregiving and domestic labor, how to make sure responsibility for household tasks is shared fairly, and how to value women's and men's time equally.

Episode 57: Youth vs. Climate Change

"We don’t want to exist, we want to thrive and create a better world." In this episode of Can We Talk?, three young Jewish women reflect on how they became active in fighting climate change, how their identities influence their activism, and what inspires them to keep going. Isha Clarke is an activist with Youth vs. Coal and Youth vs. Apocalypse; Noa Gordon-Guterman is an Avodah Service-Corps member working with Interfaith Power and Light; and Tali Deaner is the campaigns director at Jewish Youth Climate Movement.

Episode 56: The Light of Days: Judy Batalion

"They were women who carried cash in their garter belts and dynamite in their underwear," says Judy Batalion, the author of The Light of Days, a new book about Jewish women resistance fighters in World War II who "blew up Nazi supply trains and shot and killed Gestapo men." She's also co-writing the screenplay for a Steven Spielberg movie based on the book. In this episode of Can We Talk?, we talk with Judy about what made some women well suited to certain roles in the resistance and why their stories aren't better known today.

Episode 55: Breathing Lesson

We kick off Can We Talk?'s spring season just in time for Passover... and about a year since we began living with the global pandemic. This time has been rough on so many people, for so many reasons—hard on working parents with kids in remote school, hard on people who have lost jobs, human contact, and loved ones. In this podcast episode, Judith Rosenbaum and Nahanni Rous—and our podcast listeners—get a breathing lesson from Janice Stieber Rous, founder of Body Dialogue (and Nahanni's aunt). They'll also talk about liberation, well-being, and how stress and exhaustion impact our ability to breathe.

Can We Talk? Fall 2020 Season Wrap

In this season wrap, host Nahanni Rous recaps Can We Talk?'s Fall 2020 episodes—from the history of Jewish and African American women's participation in the fight for voting rights, to a tribute to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, to Jewish women's voting stories, a mini-series on creativity in pandemic times, and more—and gives a sneak peak at some of what's to come in the spring.

Episode 54: Mamalas: Building Jewish Families

The election of Kamala Harris to the Vice Presidency has sparked excitement in the Jewish community. Not only will she be the first woman and person of color to serve in the role, but she also has Jewish family. Kamala and the Harris/Emhoff family highlight an important demographic reality in the American Jewish community: the majority of Jewish families in America today include women who don’t identify as Jewish. In this episode of Can We Talk?, we’ll hear the stories of three women who, like Kamala, are not themselves Jewish, but play essential roles in creating Jewish households and raising Jewish children.

Episode 53: Sabrina Orah Mark Writes Into Brokenness

Writer and poet Sabrina Orah Mark joins us for the final episode in our four part series on creativity in pandemic times. Her monthly essays in The Paris Review are loosely based on motherhood and fairy tales, and their texture is a rich weave of fairy tales, politics, the past, and her children’s voices. She describes her prose as having little poems folded up inside of it. In our conversation, Sabrina draws parallels between the ways that motherhood and quarantine have shaped her creative process.

Episode 52: Siona Benjamin's Transcultural Art

Siona Benjamin’s art dances with vibrant colors and mythical figures—Lilith wrapped in a prayer shawl, Vashti with angels wings, a blue-skinned woman with multiple arms held up like a menorah. Siona is an Indian Jew from Mumbai now living in the US, and her art reflects her transcultural identity: it's Jewish, feminist, Indian, American, and influenced by the Hindu and Islamic cultures she grew up in. Siona Benjamin joins us for the third in our series on creativity in the global pandemic.

Episode 51: Alicia Svigals, Klezmer Fiddler

Alicia Svigals is the world’s leading klezmer fiddler and has played a central role in the klezmer revival. Alicia was a co-founder of the Grammy-Award winning band, the Klezmatics, and she has recorded, performed, and collaborated with countless artists over nearly four decades. In our second episode on creativity in the pandemic, Alicia joins us to talk about how music is helping her get through this difficult time.

Episode 50: Laughing with Liz Glazer

Stand-up comedian Liz Glazer left a successful career as a tenured law professor six years ago to pursue comedy full time. "It's the usual route to stand-up," she says. As a result of the pandemic, Liz has been performing for online audiences only and reconnecting with the roots of her sense of humor. This is the first in our four-part series on creativity during the global pandemic.

Episode 49: Jewish Women Vote

As history unfolds in this election season, we talk with Jewish women about their voting stories—past and present. We hear from a poll watcher in Georgia, a young voter whose name was nearly wiped from the voter rolls, and a rabbi who said a blessing as she slipped her ballot in the ballot box. We'll also hear from a 92-year-old voter in Florida who remembers meeting suffragist Alice Paul in the 1970s, and a candidate for US Congress who talks about the dilemma she faced in sixth grade—whether to vote for herself for class president.

Episode 48: A Ceiling Made of Eggshells

Author Gail Carson Levine is famous for writing retellings of classic fairy tales with a modern twist—like her best-selling novel Ella Enchanted—but her most recent book, A Ceiling Made of Eggshells, takes readers back to a real time and place. It's set in Spain in the decade leading up to the expulsion of the Jews in 1492. Ten-year-old Loma's Jewish family is in a unique position. Her financier grandfather has a special, though tense, relationship with the king and queen, and Loma soon finds herself at the center of events that determine the Jewish community’s future. JWA talks with Gail Carson Levine about how she did her research for the book and what motivated her to write it.

Episode 47: RBG in Her Own Words

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the first Jewish woman to sit on the nation’s highest court, died on the eve of Rosh Hashanah. Justice Ginsburg was an American and feminist icon and a Jewish hero. Her experiences as a Jew and as a woman helped her identify with outsiders and see the gap between American ideals and the realities that so many people live every day. Justice Ginsburg was a role model... and she had her own role models too. In this episode, we dig into JWA's archive and share some of the Justice's own words about a Jewish woman who inspired her.

Episode 46: Virtual Holidays: Lessons from our Muslim friends

Back in April, many of us celebrated Passover with a virtual Seder, or two. Now, five months later, we enter the High Holidays in much the same predicament. But, Jews are not the only ones who have experienced this. Our Muslim friends have already gone through several major holidays, including the month of Ramadan, in quarantine. In this special Rosh Hashanah mini-sode, three Muslim women—Bintou Fall, Sukai See, and Angelica Lindsey-Ali—share advice about getting through a holiday season while social distancing.

Episode 45: Shofar in the Desert

No sound is more iconic for the Jewish New Year than that of the shofar blast. This year, many Jews will hear the sound of the shofar virtually. Can We Talk? producer Sarah Ventre is one of hundreds of shofar blowers who will share their shofar blasts with their congregations over Zoom. In this special Rosh Hashanah mini-sode, Sarah ventures into the urban desert in Phoenix, Arizona to practice blowing her shofar. She shares her thoughts on what the shofar blast means to her this year, during the global pandemic.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Can We Talk? The JWA Podcast." (Viewed on June 22, 2021) <https://jwa.org/podcasts/canwetalk>.

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