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? Fall 2020 Season Wrap

In this season wrap, host Nahanni Rous recaps Can We Talk?'s Fall 2020 episodes—from the history of Jewish and African American women's participation in the fight for voting rights, to a tribute to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, to Jewish women's voting stories, a mini-series on creativity in pandemic times, and more—and gives a sneak peak at some of what's to come in the spring.

Episode 54: Mamalas: Building Jewish Families

The election of Kamala Harris to the Vice Presidency has sparked excitement in the Jewish community. Not only will she be the first woman and person of color to serve in the role, but she also has Jewish family. Kamala and the Harris/Emhoff family highlight an important demographic reality in the American Jewish community: the majority of Jewish families in America today include women who don’t identify as Jewish. In this episode of Can We Talk?, we’ll hear the stories of three women who, like Kamala, are not themselves Jewish, but play essential roles in creating Jewish households and raising Jewish children.

Episode 53: Sabrina Orah Mark Writes Into Brokenness

Writer and poet Sabrina Orah Mark joins us for the final episode in our four part series on creativity in pandemic times. Her monthly essays in The Paris Review are loosely based on motherhood and fairy tales, and their texture is a rich weave of fairy tales, politics, the past, and her children’s voices. She describes her prose as having little poems folded up inside of it. In our conversation, Sabrina draws parallels between the ways that motherhood and quarantine have shaped her creative process.

Episode 52: Siona Benjamin's Transcultural Art

Siona Benjamin’s art dances with vibrant colors and mythical figures—Lilith wrapped in a prayer shawl, Vashti with angels wings, a blue-skinned woman with multiple arms held up like a menorah. Siona is an Indian Jew from Mumbai now living in the US, and her art reflects her transcultural identity: it's Jewish, feminist, Indian, American, and influenced by the Hindu and Islamic cultures she grew up in. Siona Benjamin joins us for the third in our series on creativity in the global pandemic.

Episode 51: Alicia Svigals, Klezmer Fiddler

Alicia Svigals is the world’s leading klezmer fiddler and has played a central role in the klezmer revival. Alicia was a co-founder of the Grammy-Award winning band, the Klezmatics, and she has recorded, performed, and collaborated with countless artists over nearly four decades. In our second episode on creativity in the pandemic, Alicia joins us to talk about how music is helping her get through this difficult time.

Episode 50: Laughing with Liz Glazer

Stand-up comedian Liz Glazer left a successful career as a tenured law professor six years ago to pursue comedy full time. "It's the usual route to stand-up," she says. As a result of the pandemic, Liz has been performing for online audiences only and reconnecting with the roots of her sense of humor. This is the first in our four-part series on creativity during the global pandemic.

Episode 49: Jewish Women Vote

As history unfolds in this election season, we talk with Jewish women about their voting stories—past and present. We hear from a poll watcher in Georgia, a young voter whose name was nearly wiped from the voter rolls, and a rabbi who said a blessing as she slipped her ballot in the ballot box. We'll also hear from a 92-year-old voter in Florida who remembers meeting suffragist Alice Paul in the 1970s, and a candidate for US Congress who talks about the dilemma she faced in sixth grade—whether to vote for herself for class president.

Episode 48: A Ceiling Made of Eggshells

Author Gail Carson Levine is famous for writing retellings of classic fairy tales with a modern twist—like her best-selling novel Ella Enchanted—but her most recent book, A Ceiling Made of Eggshells, takes readers back to a real time and place. It's set in Spain in the decade leading up to the expulsion of the Jews in 1492. Ten-year-old Loma's Jewish family is in a unique position. Her financier grandfather has a special, though tense, relationship with the king and queen, and Loma soon finds herself at the center of events that determine the Jewish community’s future. JWA talks with Gail Carson Levine about how she did her research for the book and what motivated her to write it.

Episode 47: RBG in Her Own Words

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the first Jewish woman to sit on the nation’s highest court, died on the eve of Rosh Hashanah. Justice Ginsburg was an American and feminist icon and a Jewish hero. Her experiences as a Jew and as a woman helped her identify with outsiders and see the gap between American ideals and the realities that so many people live every day. Justice Ginsburg was a role model... and she had her own role models too. In this episode, we dig into JWA's archive and share some of the Justice's own words about a Jewish woman who inspired her.

Episode 46: Virtual Holidays: Lessons from our Muslim friends

Back in April, many of us celebrated Passover with a virtual Seder, or two. Now, five months later, we enter the High Holidays in much the same predicament. But, Jews are not the only ones who have experienced this. Our Muslim friends have already gone through several major holidays, including the month of Ramadan, in quarantine. In this special Rosh Hashanah mini-sode, three Muslim women—Bintou Fall, Sukai See, and Angelica Lindsey-Ali—share advice about getting through a holiday season while social distancing.

Episode 45: Shofar in the Desert

No sound is more iconic for the Jewish New Year than that of the shofar blast. This year, many Jews will hear the sound of the shofar virtually. Can We Talk? producer Sarah Ventre is one of hundreds of shofar blowers who will share their shofar blasts with their congregations over Zoom. In this special Rosh Hashanah mini-sode, Sarah ventures into the urban desert in Phoenix, Arizona to practice blowing her shofar. She shares her thoughts on what the shofar blast means to her this year, during the global pandemic.

Episode 44: The Nineteenth Amendment Turns 100

One hundred years ago on August 26, 1920, Congress adopted the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution. In this episode of Can We Talk?, Judith Rosenbaum talks with historians Ellen Dubois, Martha Jones, and Melissa Klapper about the role of African American and Jewish women in fighting for the vote, and the racism, classism, and antisemitism that undermined the movement's impact.

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.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Can We Talk? The JWA Podcast." (Viewed on January 16, 2021) <https://jwa.org/podcasts/canwetalk>.

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