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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'll hear lively profiles of historical and contemporary Jewish women, frank discussion of culture, politics, and current events, and little-known stories from our past and present.

Episode 15: A Day at the Met with the Mixed-Up Files

Maayan and Shalvah on the Steps of the Met
Ten-year-old friends Maayan and Shalvah stand on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art with a copy of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, which takes place at the museum.

Beloved children’s book From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler turns 50 this year. E.L. Konigsburg’s best-selling novel tells the story of two suburban children who run away to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. To celebrate the book’s anniversary—and to gear up for summer reading—Can We Talk? took two ten-year-old girls to the Met for an official tour retracing Claudia and Jamie Kincaid’s week in the museum. Tune in to join us on the tour and to hear an interview with Konigsburg’s daughter and a conversation with the girls about why the proper yet rebellious Claudia Kincaid still resonates with today’s young readers.

Episode 14: Making a Family

Newborn Baby Feet
Newborn twins' feet. The babies were born to a childless couple with the help of a gestational surrogate, as chronicled in Can We Talk episode 14, "Making a Family."

“I think people need to talk about how families are created and there’s so many different ways, and there’s more every day. And it’s not easy and it’s not a given.” In this month’s episode, we tell the story of a Jewish couple who struggled with infertility for years, then decided to hire a surrogate to deliver their children. They talk about the emotional trials of infertility, what it was like to be part of a family-centered Jewish community while they struggled to have children, and the surreal experience of watching another woman give birth to their babies. This moving episode hopes to honor and create conversation around non-traditional family making, as well as to remind potential parents who are having trouble conceiving that they’re not alone.

Episode 13: Borders of Love

Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv as seen from above, courtesy of Amos Meron.

Israeli author Dorit Rabinyan’s novel All the Rivers is a steamy, Middle Eastern “Romeo and Juliet”: an Israeli-Palestinian love affair that confronts themes of borders, identity, and assimilation. The book sparked controversy in Israel, where the government removed it from the high school curriculum, while it shot to the top of the bestseller list. In this month’s episode, we talk with Dorit Rabinyan about this love story that doubles as political allegory, and about the tragic personal experiences that inspired her to write a tale of star-crossed Middle Eastern lovers.

Episode 12: A New Era for the ERA

March to Support the Equal Rights Amendment, New York City, 1976, by Diana Mara Henry

March to Support the Equal Rights Amendment, New York City, 1976.

Copyright © Diana Mara Henry/dianamarahenry.com

Surveys show that around 90 percent of Americans support an Equal Rights Amendment—and yet, still, the Constitution does not explicitly guarantee equal rights for women. On this month's episode, we explore the history of this amendment, from its roots as a feminist cause in the 1920s, to the failed attempts to pass the amendment in the 1970s, to the renewed efforts to revive the ERA today. We speak to activist and former NOW president Ellie Smeal about how cultural conservatism and anti-feminist activists helped defeat the amendment in the 1970s, and explore whether the fight for the ERA is still vital in today's America.

Episode 11: Still Marching

Women's March on Washington, 2017
Women's March on Washington, 2017

The day after Trump’s inauguration, millions of people around the world took to the streets in protest. March along with us in this episode! We'll meet participants in the Women's March on Washington, and go back to where it all began—the first women’s march in Washington, on the eve of President Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration in 1913, before women even had the right to vote. Plus, two very special daughters make their Can We Talk debut.

Episode 10: Rededication

Ruth Messinger
Ruth Messinger, President of American Jewish World Service. Photo courtesy of AJWS.

For many Jews, the election of Donald Trump signals a time of uncertainty. In this episode, we turn for guidance to three Jewish women who have spent their lives working for social change. Ruth Messinger, April Baskin, and Idit Klein share their responses to the election and how they’re finding focus in this new political climate. We also visit the Obama’s final White House Hanukkah party.

Episode 9: Sonnet for America

Immigrants View Statue of Liberty
Immigrants on a boat gather to view the Statue of Liberty.
Courtesy of The Mariners' Museum Research Library

In search of some post-election, pre-Thanksgiving meaning, host Nahanni Rous and JWA Executive Director Judith Rosenbaum explore that great American symbol, the Statue of Liberty—and the Jewish woman who gave her a voice. Emma Lazarus was a poet and writer who is remembered for the sonnet that redefined the Statue as the Mother of Exiles. But she was also an activist who worked with the poor immigrants of the 1880s and challenged her upper class Jewish community to take responsibility for these Russian Jewish refugees.

Episode 8: WITCH in Action

WITCH hexing Wall Street, bankers looking on, October 31, 1968, New York.
WITCH hexing Wall Street, October 31, 1968, New York. Courtesy of Bev Grant.

On Halloween of 1968, a coven of witches in black robes and pointy hats hexed Wall Street. They called themselves WITCH—Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell—but there was nothing international or violent about this guerrilla theater protest group that emerged in the early days of the women’s liberation movement. We talk with Bev Grant about WITCH’s origins at the Miss America Beauty Pageant, and Heather Booth, who was part of a coven in Chicago. Historian Joyce Antler puts WITCH into context.

Episode 7: Women of the Wall

Western Wall, Jerusalem
Western Wall, Jerusalem.

This month, Can We Talk attends a Bat Mitzvah with Women of the Wall at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. The group has been fighting for women's right to read Torah at Judaism’s holiest site for nearly three decades—there have been arrests, multiple lawsuits, and a rift in the organization. The Israeli Supreme Court recently took the government to task for failing to provide a non-Orthodox prayer space at the Wall—and indicated it will take matters into its own hands if the government doesn’t act soon.

Episode 6: JWA at the DNC

Nahanni Rous and Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum at the DNC
Nahanni Rous and Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum at the 2016 Democratic National Convention

In this episode, host Nahanni Rous and JWA Executive Director Judith Rosenbaum report from the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, where they were invited to cover Hillary Clinton’s historic presidential nomination. They speak to both Hillary and Bernie supporters and interview such powerful women as former senior advisor to Hillary Clinton Ann Lewis, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, and Delegate Elizabeth Schlesinger.

Episode 5: "Jewish Hair"

Jaclyn Friedman
Author and activist Jaclyn Friedman

Summer's coming, and here at the Jewish Women's Archive, we're thinking about…hair. Curly, Jewish hair. The kind that turns to frizz in summer weather. And we're not the only ones—thousands of people every week visit our seven year old blog post on the topic. In this roundtable edition of Can We Talk, we explore curly, wavy, frizzy hair and its deeper cultural and historic significance for Jewish women.

Episode 4: Mothering

Avi and Binyamin Rose with Children
Avi and Binyamin Rose with their children Sarai and Atir.

A man with a beard admits he's the stereotypical Jewish mother…a woman who's always been afraid of teenagers explains why an 18-year-old from Somalia is calling her mom…and a veteran stage actor waxes philosophical about all the mother roles she has played—though she's not a mother herself. In this Mother’s Day episode, we celebrate the many forms motherhood can take, and look at what it means to wholeheartedly step into the role.

Episode 3: People of the Cookbook

Claudia Roden Cooking
Claudia Roden cooking

“Every cuisine tells a story,” writes Claudia Roden in the Book of Jewish Food. “Jewish food tells the story of an uprooted, migrating people and their vanished worlds.” Claudia’s childhood world vanished when the Jewish community was forced out of Egypt in the 1950s. Her quest to collect family recipes led to a celebrated career as a cookbook author. But Claudia writes more than recipes—she traces the DNA of cuisine. In this Passover edition, Claudia Roden talks about Passover cooking, her childhood in Egypt, and what makes Jewish food Jewish.

Episode 2: Body of Knowledge

Our Bodies Ourselves Covers
Our Bodies Ourselves, Then and Now

45 years ago a group of women in the Boston area collectively published Our Bodies Ourselves—a groundbreaking book that put forward the radical notion that women should get to know their own bodies and take charge of their health and sexuality. Since its first publication, the book has sold more than four million copies and been adapted into 30 languages.

Episode 1: The Pilot's Pilot

Zohara Levitov flying a plane
Zohara Levitov

Our pilot episode is about … pilots! Elynor Rudnick and Zohara Levitov grew up on different continents: one in America, one in British-ruled Palestine. In the 1940s, they were both young Jewish women with pilot's licenses. During some of the most turbulent years in modern Jewish history, their stories were woven together—not by fate, but by flight. Plus, Deb Dreyfus, a modern day Jewish woman pilot, takes our host Nahanni Rous for a spin in her four-seater Cessna.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Can We Talk?." (Viewed on September 19, 2017) <https://jwa.org/podcasts/canwetalk>.

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