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Activism

From Spy to Spatula to the Small Screen

When I was in third grade, I had to choose a famous role model to research and present to my class. Naturally, I chose Julia Child – not because I was an aspiring chef or because I wanted an excuse to buy a red wig – but because I left the theater after seeing “Julie & Julia” (2009) absolutely fascinated by her legacy; both inside the kitchen, and beyond its walls. A female public figure with a personality as strong as hers was rare during the 1950s, and her role as a volunteer spy during World War II taught me that no one is just one thing. Even though history often highlights people solely for what they were most famous for, it’s important to look beyond that and explore their multiplicity of talents and contributions to society. 

Addressing #MeToo with Jewish Teens

If you work with teens in any number of settings, you know that for many of them, the #MeToo movement is at the forefront of their minds ... Although it’s not our primary role as educators to provide counseling for teens who may be struggling with their own #MeToo experiences, we can play a part in helping them navigate this complex and multi-faceted conversation, and in a Jewish context.

Derby Girl

When I first started playing roller derby (a contact sport played on roller skates) as an 11-year-old, I didn’t know how to skate. I could barely make it one lap around the track in my rental skates. Fast forward to last summer–my team and I made it to the national championships in Colorado. I think it’s safe to say that I’ve come a long way during the past four years—not just as a skater, but as a person. Roller derby has been one of the most empowering forces in my life, and it’s contributed significantly to who I am today.

Wearing the Pants, and the Dress as Well

When I showed a girl in my class the prom dress I was thinking about buying, the first thing she asked me was whether or not I was going to shave for prom. Her question wasn’t really that surprising. People often associate body hair with uncleanliness, and they don’t expect it to appear in formal situations. The fact is, people only question me about my body hair when I’m wearing something more traditionally feminine. When I’m wearing shorts and a t-shirt people rarely look twice at my legs or armpits, but when I’m wearing a dress, people consistently double-take. When it comes to how other people see me, it seems that my casual clothes and body hair make more sense together than my more feminine clothes and body hair.

More than “Galentine's Day”: Recognizing Female Friendships

Recently, a few of my clergywomen friends dropped by a congregational Shabbat dinner, and we spent the latter half of the evening catching up while people finished their meal. Some members of my community didn’t know how to process the presence of these women at my table, and a few expressed resentment that my attention was divided.

Ilana Kaufman

Working with organizations in California and beyond, Ilana Kaufman has drawn on her personal experience as a queer Jewish woman of color to advocate for diversity and inclusivity.

1 Down and Yards to Go for the Lingerie Football League

I’d like to think that I’m really good at pretending to know about football. As a self-proclaimed Green Bay Packers fan, I can name about 5 players and can usually tell which team is scoring the touchdown. Needless to say, when I found myself watching a Packers game at a friend’s house with all of her friends (who didn’t know me, but certainly knew football), I felt pretty out of place. I couldn’t offer much to the conversation comparing Packers’ quarterbacks Brett Hundley and Aaron Rodgers, but when the conversation turned to the Legends Football League (LFL), formerly known as the Lingerie League, I had plenty to contribute. 

Video Interview with Jaclyn Friedman

Jaclyn Friedman has been researching and radicalizing the way our culture understands sex, pleasure, and women's empowerment since she was an anti-rape activist in college. Now, Friedman is one of the most powerful voices in the conversation on how we can live authentic sexual lives while existing in our country's screwed up sexual culture.

Queen Esther: Quiet Leader

Purim has always been ranked high on my list of favorite holidays. Who doesn’t love dressing up, eating hamantaschen, playing games, and winning prizes? In addition to my synagogue’s annual Purim carnival I also look forward to the megillah reading each year. I always found the story to be interesting, but as I’ve gotten older, my interpretation has evolved from one about a queen who saves her people (the Jews), to a complex narrative about a female leader.

Sarai and the Silence Breakers

Once a month, I meet with about ten other Jewish girls as part of the Rosh Chodesh program. We drink tea, bake cookies, do mindful meditations, and kvetch. Most importantly though, we talk about the impact our female identities have on our daily lives and within Judaism. Earlier this month, over a batch of half-baked brownies, we discussed a Torah portion that rattled the foundation of my identity as a Jewish woman.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Activism." (Viewed on February 22, 2018) <https://jwa.org/topics/activism>.

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