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 86: Fat Torah with Minna Bromberg

It all started at a preschool Hanukkah party a few years ago. That's when an offhand remark led Rabbi Minna Bromberg to start Fat Torah, a project to end fat stigma in Jewish communal life. In this episode of Can We Talk?, Judith Rosenbaum speaks with Minna in her home in Jerusalem about how fatphobia plays out in Israel versus the US, the ways it intersects with gender, and how Jewish tradition can teach us to be more body positive. 

Episode 85: Teens and Mental Health in the (Post)Pandemic

Teens were already struggling before COVID. When the pandemic hit, things just got worse. In this episode of Can We Talk?, we speak with Vanessa Kroll Bennett, co-host of The Puberty Podcast, parenting writer, and mother of four, about teens and mental health—before, during, and after the pandemic—gender differences, and what caregivers and Jewish communities can do to help. We also hear directly from teens about how the pandemic affected them and how they're doing now. 

Episode 84: Modern Loss with Rebecca Soffer

For a long time, Rebecca Soffer, co-founder of the website Modern Loss, had been planning to write a guide to coping with grief. Then the pandemic hit, and the need felt especially urgent. So she wrote The Modern Loss Handbook: An Interactive Guide to Moving Through Grief and Building Resilience. The book came out earlier this year. In this episode of Can We Talk?, we speak with Rebecca about all things grief-related: trigger days, bespoke holidays, Jewish grief rituals, and what to say—and not to say—to someone in mourning. 

Episode 83: Fighting for Israel's "Chained Women"

In Israel, marriage and divorce are governed by Jewish law and controlled by the ultra-Orthodox rabbinical courts. If a Jewish woman wants a divorce, she has to get permission from her husband—and he can refuse. That's exactly what happens to about 1 in 5 Jewish women in Israel who want a divorce, according to a recent survey. In this episode of 'Can We Talk?,' we speak with Kylie Eisman-Lifschitz, board chair of Mavoi Satum, about how rabbinical control over the divorce process in Israel harms Jewish women, and about how organizations like Mavoi Satum are taking on the problem, by working with women one-on-one, but also by fighting for systemic change. 

Episode 82: When Jewish Women Talked to the Dead

In this season of ghosts and haunted houses, we’re taking you back to a time when communicating with the dead was a popular way to spend an evening. Séances were the main practice of the spiritualist movement, which is based on the belief that when people die, they survive as spirits, and that we can talk to these spirits with the help of a medium. The movement had its heyday in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and Jews all over the world, from London to Brooklyn to Cairo, were at the forefront. Scholar Sam Glauber-Zimra explains why spiritualism had such appeal among Jews, what rabbis had to say about it, and why Jewish women were prominent as mediums. 

Episode 81: Linke Fligl Ends With Love

On a hot, humid day in late August, Nahanni Rous joined a gathering at Linke Fligl, a queer Jewish chicken farm and cultural organizing project in New York's Hudson Valley. (Linke Fligl is a pun—Yiddish for "left wing.") For the past seven years, queer Jews have celebrated holidays, farmed, and built community on this ten-acre, off-the-grid piece of land—but the project is coming to a close. In this episode of Can We Talk?, we walk the land at Linke Fligl, talk to people at the final gathering, and hear from founder Margot Seigle about how the project started and why it's ending.

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.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Can We Talk? The JWA Podcast." (Viewed on February 4, 2023) <https://jwa.org/podcasts/canwetalk>.

Donate

Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

Get JWA in your inbox