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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. Alternating between a documentary style and a roundtable format, Can We Talk? includes 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 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 January 22, 2017) <https://jwa.org/podcasts/canwetalk>.

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