Can We Talk? Fall 2020 Season Wrap (Transcript)

Can We Talk? Fall 2020 Season Wrap

[Theme music]

Nahanni Rous: Hi everyone! It’s Nahanni Rous, host of Can We Talk? from the Jewish Women’s Archive. I’m here to officially close out our fall season, and give you a little preview of what’s coming in the spring. What a time we’re living in. Let’s take a short stroll through this past podcast season, and remember where we’ve been over the past several months. At the end of the summer, with the 2020 presidential election campaign underway, we marked the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment which granted women the right to vote. On the podcast, we talked about the history of Jewish and African American women’s participation in the fight for equality and for the vote. Historian Ellen Dubois spoke presciently about democracy.

Ellen Dubois: Democracy is frequently if not always in peril, must be regularly defended or it will be lost, alas I would say our constitutional order which we think of as the sun in the morning and the moon at night may not be eternal and we must act for it. 

Nahanni: Then, we rang in the Jewish new year with producer Sarah Ventre, who took us to the Arizona desert for a moment of reflection and to hear her shofar blast.

Sarah Ventre: Now more than ever, this is a call to say this is it, this is our moment, this our time to make the world what we want it to be.

[Shofar sound]

Nahanni: And we heard advice from Muslim women on making the most of holiday celebrations in pandemic times, including Angelica Lindsey-Ali, who spoke about Ramadan during quarantine.

Angelica Lindsey-Ali: We spent a lot of time curating the experiences we wanted to have for our children, and with people who were within our bubble, so although a lot of the fanfare of the holiday was missing, I really feel like it was one of the best holiday seasons ever because it stripped off all of the fluff and really got to focus on what the essence of the holidays truly are.

Nahanni: Then, as many of us settled in to our Rosh Hashanah meals, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. Many wonderful words were spoken about her, and we felt lucky to be able to share a story in Justice Ginsburg’s own words—a story she told at a JWA event about what she learned from Henrietta Szold.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: In my growing up years, my mother spoke of her glowingly. Szold knew how to say no better than any other person whose words I have read.

Nahanni: We took a break from current events to interview young adult author Gail Carson Levine about her newest book, A Ceiling Made of Eggshells, whose main character is a Jewish girl growing up during the Spanish Inquisition.

Gail Carson Levine: I wanted very much for her not to be a modern girl. Because as I read, it more and more seemed to me that the modern idea of self wasn’t there at that time. This is Middle Ages, and people had much less freedom of action.

Nahanni: Speaking of freedom of action, with the centennial of the suffrage amendment still fresh, we headed into the 2020 presidential election. We shared voting stories, past and present, including JWA CEO Judith Rosenbaum’s memories of voting with her mother.

Judith Rosenbaum: She would make this emotional speech about how important the right to vote was, and how people had fought and died for this right all over the world, and that as a woman and as a Jew, I should never take it for granted.

Nahanni: Then we shifted gears and explored creativity in pandemic times through a four part series that included comedian Liz Glazer.

Liz Glazer: If I’m doing a comedy show now, I realize that people need the laughter, and I can give them laughter, and it’s so much less about did I do good, did I bomb or did I have a great set, but did I make these people’s day better?

Nahanni: Klezmer violinist Alicia Svigals... 

Alicia Svigals: The nearness of history and of events beyond an individual’s control. There isn’t that luxury of visiting those feelings and then going home again. Everything feels a little bit more on, on a knife's edge. And that comes out, I feel, in how I play and write.

["The Plea" plays]

Nahanni: Visual artist Siona Benjamin...

Siona Benjamin: And what is this business of tribalism, of country, of nationalism, of wanting to belong and that you will not include the other. Is this the moral and human condition of our era? Yes, it is.

Nahanni: And writer and poet Sabrina Orah Mark.

Sabrina Orah Mark: Even if it’s just the smallest word that you add to the pile, it’s necessary for the pile to exist. The pile needs that little tiny word too. Um, and I think that's, that's what I think of my role, you know, like I'm just adding just a tiny word to the pile.

Nahanni: We feel grateful to offer these podcasts as our version of the tiny word to add to the pile, and I have to say, these episodes on creativity were some of my favorites to produce. For our Hanukkah episode, in honor of Kamala Harris’s groundbreaking election and her Jewish family, we talked with three non-Jewish women who are raising Jewish children, including Cassie Morgenstern.

Cassie Morgenstern: I don’t see myself as a Jewish mother, I see myself as a mother to Jewish children. You know, I’m the one as typically falls to mothers who is the keeper of tradition.

Nahanni: It was an eventful podcast season to mirror an eventful fall. We hope that better, calmer days are ahead, and we’re looking forward to sharing a bunch of new stories in the spring. Here’s just a glimpse of some of the stories to come. We’ll talk with author Eve Rodsky about how couples share household tasks and how that may have changed during the pandemic, and we’ll hear from Rabbi Tirza Firestone about intergenerational trauma, and from disability rights activist Judy Heumann.  

Judy Heumann: There needs to be a direct way of looking at how to bring the stories of people with invisible and visible disabilities forward. And because of the stigma that still exists so much around disabilities, many people even those with physical disabilities don’t really necessarily identify or speak up about them.

Nahanni: Stay tuned for all of that and more. Until then, find us online at jwa.org/canwetalk or wherever you get your podcasts. Take good care.

[Theme music fades]

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Jewish Women's Archive. "Can We Talk? Fall 2020 Season Wrap (Transcript)." (Viewed on March 7, 2021) <https://jwa.org/podcasts/canwetalk/can-we-talk-fall-2020-season-wrap/transcript>.

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