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:

Can We Talk? Spring 2020 Season Wrap

As they wrap up another season of Can We Talk?, Nahanni Rous and Judith Rosenbaum look back on episodes and interviews from this season. They reflect on how the podcast has been a vehicle for connection, commiseration, and change during this difficult time—and they look ahead to a new season in Fall 2020.

Episode 43: Black Lives Matter

A wave of protests is sweeping the country following the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. In this episode, we speak with Atlanta-based educator and activist Tarece Johnson about her work for racial justice and about confronting racism inside the Jewish community. As Tarece says, "As Black people, and as Jews, we endure racism in our Jewish community... anti-Blackness is very real." We also talk with Sara Greenhalgh, who has been on the front lines of protests in Minneapolis, and share a protest prayer by April Baskin.

Episode 42: Ode to Ladino

Ladino, or Judeo-Spanish, was once the mother tongue of Sephardic Jews in Turkey and other Jewish communities that once thrived around the Mediterranean. Now, there are only about 100,000 Ladino speakers scattered throughout the world. In this episode of Can We Talk?, we meet Karen Sarhon, a woman on a mission to keep Ladino, and the culture surrounding it, alive. Freelance journalist Durrie Bouscaren brings us this story from Istanbul, Turkey.

Episode 41: Coming of Age with Judy Blume

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Judy Blume's classic teen novel Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, a story that normalizes the experiences of teenage girls: what it’s like to have your first period, your first bra, your first kiss… what it’s like to feel uncomfortable in your own body and confused about who you are. Margaret, who comes from an interfaith home, with one Jewish parent, goes through these teen rites of passage and also grapples with her religious identity. Judith Rosenbaum and Nahanni Rous recently re-read the book with their own pre-teen daughters, Ma'ayan and Shalvah.

Episode 40: Rachel Sharansky Danziger: Let My Story Go

Rachel Sharansky Danziger’s connection to the Exodus story is personal. Her parents, Natan and Avital Sharansky, were born in the Soviet Union. Natan spent nine years in a Soviet prison after he was arrested for his political activism in 1977. Avital led an international campaign to pressure the Soviet regime to release her husband and other Jewish refusniks. In this episode, Rachel discusses the way her family celebrated Passover and shares what she learned from the Hagaddah about passing her family's liberation story down to her children.

Episode 39: Esther Safran Foer: We're Still Here

Every family has hidden stories, but some are more deeply hidden than others. Esther Safran Foer’s parents both survived the Holocaust, but most of their relatives were killed. Like many survivors, Esther’s parents rarely spoke about their experiences… which left her with a lot of unanswered questions. Esther has spent much of her life piecing together the truth of her family story. In this episode, Judith Rosenbaum talks with Esther about her new memoir, I Want You to Know We’re Still Here, which chronicles this lifelong search.

Episode 38: Joan Rivers and Treva Silverman: Partners in Comedy

Joan Rivers and Treva Silverman were friends and partners in comedy for decades. In this delightful conversation from JWA’s archive, Joan and Treva talk about what it was like to be women in comedy in the 1960s and 1970s, how they got their start driving to gigs in the Catskills in Joan’s beat up old car, and the origins of some of their favorite jokes.


This is the second episode in a two-part series.

Episode 37: Joan Rivers, can we talk?

In this episode of Can We Talk?, we share a 2006 interview with Joan Rivers from JWA’s documentary Making Trouble and talk about Joan’s legacy as a pioneering Jewish woman in comedy. We’ll also explain why we chose Joan’s signature tagline “Can we talk?” as the name of our podcast.


This is the first episode in a two-part series.

Episode 36: Relearning to Wash Our Hands

We're facing a global pandemic, the likes of which most of us have never lived through. In these unsettling days, community healer and spiritual leader Dori Midnight brings us this prayer for relearning to wash our hands. We hope this poem helps you find the thread of love in this tangle of anxiety.

Can We Talk? Spring 2020 Trailer

Welcome back to a new season of Can We Talk?! We’re kicking off our season next week, but in the meantime here’s a taste of some of the episodes coming your way from the Jewish Women’s Archive. Join us!

Episode 35: Becoming Abby Stein

Author and transgender activist Abby Stein grew up in a tight-knit, insular Hasidic community in Brooklyn; she calls it one of the most gender-segregated societies in America. From early childhood, she knew she was a girl, but for her entire life, her community celebrated the fact that she was a boy. In this episode of Can We Talk?, Stein describes her upbringing, her discovery of non-binary genders in Jewish mysticism, and how she parted ways with her community. This is the final episode in our three-part fall author interview series.

Episode 34: Emily Nussbaum Likes To Watch

If we're living in the golden age of television, then The New Yorker's TV critic Emily Nussbaum is our soothsayer. In this episode of Can We Talk?, JWA's Executive Director, Judith Rosenbaum, talks with Nussbaum about portrayals of Jewish women on television, past and present, and Nussbaum's new essay collection, I Like To Watch. Nussbaum also speaks candidly about how the #MeToo movement has made her rethink the way her own cultural tastes have been formed. This is the second episode in our three-part fall author interview series.

Episode 33: Sarah Hurwitz: From the White House to the Torah

Sarah Hurwitz had what she calls her dream job: She was a White House speechwriter for a president and first lady she admired. At the end of the Obama Administration, she took a break from politics and wrote a book that chronicles her foray into Jewish learning and tradition. In this episode, Can We Talk? host Nahanni Rous talks with Sarah Hurwitz about speechwriting, the women of the Bible, silent meditation, what she’s looking for in a presidential candidate, and Sarah's new book, Here All Along. This is the first episode in our three-part fall author interview series.

Episode 32: Silence Helps Others Forget

Host Nahanni Rous talks to Holocaust survivor and author, Irene Butter. Like Anne Frank's family, Butter’s fled Nazi Germany, settled in Amsterdam, and was eventually deported to concentration camps. Irene knew Anne Frank, and saw her at Bergen-Belsen just before Anne died. She tells us why she began sharing her story after more than four decades of silence, and how she sees her experience reflected in the current era of xenophobia and rising antisemitism.

Episode 31: Single Mothers By Choice

In this special Mother’s Day episode of Can We Talk?, host Nahanni Rous speaks with three single mothers by choice: Lizzie Skurnick, Naomi, and Wendy Shanker. These women felt motherhood should not be contingent on partnership and instead started families by themselves. More and more women are deciding not to wait for the perfect partner, and are happily having babies on their own via adoption, intrauterine insemination, and in vitro fertilization.

Episode 30: Women in Israeli Politics: An Election Primer

On April 9, Israeli voters head to the polls. In this chaotic and potentially momentous election, the headlines are mostly focused on political maneuvering and corruption scandals in the top-ranks of the male-dominated political parties. But in this election, more Israeli women are running for Knesset than ever before, and they’re speaking out about women’s issues. Is anyone listening? In this special episode of Can We Talk, journalist Linda Gradstein brings us this report on where women candidates from a range of political parties stand in the upcoming Israeli elections. She speaks with feminist activist and writer Elana Sztokman and some of the candidates themselves.

Episode 29: BRCA: A Jewish Legacy

One in 40 Ashkenazi Jews carries the BRCA genetic mutation, which is strongly linked to breast and ovarian cancer. In this Episode of Can We Talk?, we explore the legacy of BRCA-linked cancers among Ashkenazi Jewish women. We discuss the difficult choice of whether to get tested for the mutation, how to interpret the results, and what to do next. Host Nahanni Rous talks with a mother-daughter team on a mission to fight breast cancer, a genetic counselor who has helped thousands of women grapple with genetic test results, and a survivor of ovarian cancer.

Episode 28: The Torah at Her Fingertips

Batya Sperling Milner’s recent bat mitzvah was groundbreaking; it was the first held in an Orthodox synagogue in which the Torah portion was chanted from braille. In this episode of Can We Talk?, Batya talks about the highlights of her bat mitzvah and her mother, Aliza Sperling, discusses her groundbreaking scholarship on blind people reading Torah within the bounds of Jewish law. We talk about the first ever braille trope system—one created especially for Batya. Batya describes her love of Torah, her commitment to Jewish law, and her desire to be recognized for who she is, rather than defined by a disability.

Episode 27: The Power of Women’s Anger

On this episode of Can We Talk?, Judith Rosenbaum talks to Rebecca Traister, author of Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger, one of JWA’s Book List picks this year. We explore the topic of women’s anger: how it is perceived, how it has historically been put to use, and how in 2018 midterm elections, women harnessed it to win a record-breaking number of seats in Congress. From Abigail Adams, to labor organizer Rose Schneiderman, to Congresswoman Bella Abzug, women have wielded their anger to create political change.

Episode 26: A Thanksgiving Seder

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.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Can We Talk? The JWA Podcast." (Viewed on August 4, 2020) <https://jwa.org/podcasts/canwetalk>.

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