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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. You can listen and subscribe to Can We Talk on most podcast platforms, including:

Episode 26: A Thanksgiving Seder

Lauter and Rosenblit Families on Thanksgiving

The Lauter and Rosenblit families have been celebrating Thanksgiving together for decades. This year will be no different. Together, they will eat turkey, discuss what it means to be a Jewish American, and have a Thanksgiving... seder.

Episode 25: A Visit to Pittsburgh

A couple hugs outside Tree of Life Synagogue

On October 27, 2018, a gunman killed eleven Jews during Shabbat services at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. While taking lives, the gunman shouted that “all Jews must die.” That morning, he had posted on social media that Jews were responsible for bringing immigrants into our country. Can We Talk Producer Nahanni Rous went to Pittsburgh with a group from her synagogue, and attended a funeral for two victims of the attack. She shares this reflection.

Episode 24: Archiving #MeToo

Judith Rosenbaum and Keren McGinity

“Why aren’t women believed?” “Why is a man’s reputation considered more important than a woman’s physical safety?”


In the first episode of the 2018-2019 season of Can We Talk?, we explore questions like these and share stories from our Archiving #MeToo project. Historian Keren McGinity shares her own #MeToo story and discusses how the movement has impacted the Jewish community.


Please note that this episode contains depictions of sexual assault.

Episode 23: Can We Talk? Season Wrap

Judith Rosenbaum and Nahanni Rous

As they wrap up another season of Can We Talk?, Nahanni Rous and Judith Rosenbaum look back on their favorite episodes and interviews. They reflect on how the podcast has addressed both timely events and timeless stories—and they look ahead to an exciting new season in 2018-2019!

Episode 22: The Red Tent: Claiming Our Place in the Story

JWA "Red Tent" Event

Anita Diamant's 1997 novel The Red Tent began as a word-of-mouth book club favorite, and went on to become a publishing phenomenon and the inspiration for women's organizations around the world. In this first-ever Can We Talk? episode recorded in front of an audience, we bring you a lively conversation with Anita Diamant, host-producer Nahanni Rous, JWA Executive Director Judith Rosenbaum, Rabbi Liza Stern, and Rev. Gloria White-Hammond.

Episode 21: TRYmester: Lifting the Silence on Infertility

Scene from TRYmester, cropped
Infertility is seldom discussed openly in a tradition that prioritizes children and families, but many Jewish adults struggle with it, and isolation compounds the painful experience. With a new theater piece called TRYMESTER, Naomi Less is working to de-stigmatize infertility and build support for families going through it. This episode is the second in our series exploring infertility in the Jewish community. It was funded in part by the UJA Federation of New York to support awareness of fertility challenges.

Episode 20: Breaking the Sound Barrier

Susan Stamberg

Why do women’s voices generate more criticism than men’s? Susan Stamberg – the first woman in America to host a nightly national news broadcast – talks with us about voice and gender bias, losing her New York accent, and becoming the sound of NPR. We also hear from Emily Bazelon of Slate’s Political Gabfest about the reception of her voice and owning her sound.

Episode 19: Dirty Dancing Turns 30

Linda Gottlieb, Producer of "Dirty Dancing"

A surprise hit in 1987, Dirty Dancing has captivated audiences of all ages for 30 years with its story of Catskill culture, a young woman’s coming of age, and the class divide in America. This episode celebrates the staying power of a film that was originally rejected by studios for being too “small and soft”—and explores Dirty Dancing’s powerful portrait of class, gender, and Jewish life. Co-hosts Nahanni Rous and JWA Executive Director Judith Rosenbaum discuss the cultural impact of the film, interview the film's producer Linda Gottlieb, and recall their own adolescent longings as they watched, and rewatched, the film as teens.

Episode 18: Mah Jongg Tov

The Mah Jongg Tov Club

We join the Mah Jongg Tov Mah Jongg Club for an evening of laughs, nostalgia, and the sounds of Mah Jongg … an ancient Chinese table game that’s embedded in Jewish culture. Mah Jongg is tactile, competitive, and social. Long played in China, Mah Jongg fever struck America in the 1920s. The general population lost interest during the Great Depression, but Jewish women have held on to the game for nearly a century. For years Mah Jongg has been stereotyped as an old lady’s game, but today, it’s having a renaissance among Jewish women of all ages.

Episode 17: Four Mothers: Orna’s Story

Orna Shimoni, with Nahanni Rous

She was protesting a war she thought was futile—and then her son was killed in it. Hear the poignant story of Orna Shimoni, an Israeli woman who 20 years ago turned her pain into action—and today is inspiring a new generation of activists. A matriarch of Women Wage Peace, Shimoni was an early member of the Four Mothers movement in the late 1990s, who channeled her private grief over her son’s death into a wider movement for peace. She is now a model for women who are newer to peace activism--and a determined voice for political change.

Episode 16: Women Wage Peace

March for Peace

Are women the key to peace in the Middle East? In this episode, we hear voices from Women Wage Peace, a powerful new movement in Israel demanding peace with the Palestinians—and insisting on women's place at the negotiating table. Uniting women from across the country and across the political spectrum, the movement hopes that it can solve the country’s most intractable issues. As one member says: "There are a lot of problems that only women can solve."

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

Maayan and Shalvah on the Steps of the Met

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

“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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Can We Talk? The JWA Podcast." (Viewed on December 19, 2018) <https://jwa.org/podcasts/canwetalk>.

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