Activism

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Episode 17: Four Mothers: Orna’s Story

She was protesting a war she thought was futile—and then her son was killed in it. Hear the poignant story of Orna Shimoni, an Israeli woman who 20 years ago turned her pain into action—and today is inspiring a new generation of activists. A matriarch of Women Wage Peace, Shimoni was an early member of the Four Mothers movement in the late 1990s, who channeled her private grief over her son’s death into a wider movement for peace. She is now a model for women who are newer to peace activism—and a determined voice for political change.

Katy Ronkin and Rhoda Nissenbaum

Saturdays with Rhoda

by Katy Ronkin

Almost every Saturday for the last five years, I’ve gone to visit my friend Rhoda Nissenbaum. We read together and talk, along with my mother and Rhoda’s aide, Sarah. What started as my Bat Mitzvah project has blossomed into a beautiful friendship.  Fortunately, I was able to record my recent meeting with Rhoda, and we got a chance to talk about her life, all 97 years of it! 

Topics: Activism, Volunteers
Rising Voices Fellow Maya Jodidio with her Aunt

Because There's More to Russian Jews than Borscht

by Maya Jodidio

My aunt and I share so much more than our smile, passion for math and science, and college (go Barnard!). Our strongest and arguably our most important similarity lies in our shared sense of civic responsibility. Although I still have more to learn about social justice work, my aunt is the perfect model of a passionate, hard-working, and persevering activist.

RVF Fellow Diana Myers with a Copy of Lilith

Overcoming Opposition

by Emily Cataneo

It takes great courage to challenge authority when you’re a high school student. At that stage in your life, school comprises much of your world, and your relationship with school determines many aspects of your future. Although many school administrations might not encourage dissent, learning to stand up to injustice is as essential a skill for a young person to learn as calculus or chemistry. Of course, administrations are not the only unjust systems that teenagers typically encounter at school: it also takes great courage to stand up against the rigid social hierarchy that characterizes many student populations.

Topics: Activism

Hilde Holger

Hilde Sofer Holger’s choreography incorporated her interest in religion, politics, and the natural world, and provoked important discussions about the role of dance in the public sphere.
Sally Mack and Rosika Schwimmer

The Women Who Fought for Pacifism

by Emily Cataneo

On November 1, 1961, 50,000 women in 60 cities across the United States walked out of their jobs and homes to protest nuclear proliferation.

Topics: Activism

Shelley Winters / Natalie Portman

Activist Actresses

Bringing Social Justice and Judaism to Hollywood

Laura Moser

Combating Extremism, Ninety Seconds At A Time

by Emily Cataneo

Americans who oppose Trump could be forgiven for feeling some fatigue these days. Since the president took office in January, it seems that a day can’t go by without a news alert about another controversial appointment or executive order.

Topics: Activism

Laura Moser

After the 2016 election, journalist Laura Moser created Daily Action to mobilize and coordinate people who wanted to become active in resisting problematic policies of the Trump administration.
Woman Running at Sunset

Rabbi Hillel on Stress Relief

by Sarah Biskowitz

I grimace. My stomach churns. My muscles tense up. Reading the news used to be my favorite pastime. But ever since the election, reading the news feels like sitting in the backseat during another kid’s Driver’s Ed lesson: being jerked around by someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing as dangers lurk at every turn. American standards for truth and respect seem to be at an all-time low for my lifetime, and I’ve never felt so worried for the future.

Episode 10: Rededication

For many Jews, the election of Donald Trump signals a time of uncertainty. In this episode, we turn for guidance to three Jewish women who have spent their lives working for social change. Ruth Messinger, April Baskin, and Idit Klein share their responses to the election and how they’re finding focus in this new political climate. We also visit the Obama’s final White House Hanukkah party.

Tikvah Alper

The Social Justice and Science Superwoman: Tikvah Alper

by Maya Jodidio

Few women have been both scientists and social justice activists in their lifetimes. Both of these roles are time-consuming and challenging, yet somehow Tikvah Alper succeeded as a distinguished radiobiologist and as a fierce opponent to the apartheid in South Africa.

Pixabay Image of a Woman Crying

I Hate Being an Activist

by Rana Bickel

My activism takes the form of words. Words that tiptoe out of my mouth and gently push others on a path towards justice.  But increasingly I find myself not being able to speak. Why? Because being an activist is making me miserable.

Student Council Yearbook Photo with Rising Voices Fellow Elisabeth Eigerman

Student Council Speeches and Politics

by Elisabeth Eigerman

I love student council. I’ve served on student councils since sixth grade. Contrary to what television says, student council races are rarely competitive. In fact, I’ve only been in one race where there was actually an opponent, and even then it was pretty clear who was going to win. My sophomore year in high school, three people ran for three spots each year so there wasn’t even voting. Still, we had to give speeches. 

Rising Voices Fellow Noam Green at the People's Climate March Cropped

Moving Past My Passivity

by Noam Green

I was a relatively passive preteen. I was stuck in this mentality that my life wasn’t really going to start until I was older, that everything until then was just filler. Looking back at it now, I can acknowledge the internalized adultism that clouded my perception of the world, but am still regretful of this period of stagnation in my life. 

Malala Yousafzai

Malala's Mission

by Ariela Basson

As a child, I would play “school.” I would pretend to be the teacher, and my siblings and stuffed animals were my students. Although it was a curriculum based on Barbies and Legos, I was attracted early on to sharing my knowledge. It was rewarding to stand in front of the “class,” lecture, and ask questions. 

A Translation From One Language To Another

Sharing Our Stories

by Hani Fish-Bieler

I grew up bilingual. From a young age, my parents, who are not Israeli, spoke to me in Hebrew because they felt it was an important skill to have. My ability to communicate with people outside of the English-speaking world has always felt like an incredible privilege. Although I love being able to find deeper meaning in the things I say through my dual-vocabulary, it’s the ability to share stories with people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to understand them, and the ability to hear theirs, that I find most important. 

Topics: Activism, Writing
Judy Feld Carr

Judy Feld Carr: Rescuing Thousands from Syria

by Lisa Batya Feld

As the news is flooded with reports of refugees fleeing Syria, we have found ourselves remembering a very different Syrian refugee crisis: the mass exodus of persecuted Jews from that country from the 1970s through 2001. I recently spoke with Judy Feld Carr, who arranged 3,228 of those rescues by forging passports, bribing officials, and arranging for individuals and families to be smuggled across the border. What’s amazing about her story is that Judy wasn’t a Special Forces commando or a human rights lawyer; she had no background in this type of work.

The "Women's Room" at Rathaus Wilmersdorf

The Women’s Room: A Report from Berlin’s Refugee Centers

by  Donna Swarthout

When I log on to the Volunteer Planner for helping at Berlin’s refugee centers I see the current tally of volunteers and hours worked: 18,000+ registered volunteers, 50,000+ hours worked. This makes me think of former President George H.W. Bush’s phrase “a thousand points of light.” Thousands in Germany are lighting the way towards a new life for thousands seeking asylum.

Topics: Activism
Volunteer Hands

Social Entrepreneurship: When the Political Becomes Personal

by Lisa Batya Feld

The Jewish Women’s Archive and the Jewish Women’s Foundation of New York are joining together to honor JWFNY’s fourteen Isha Koach honorees for this year. Each of these social entrepreneurs were shaped by experiences where abstract social or environmental problems suddenly became very concrete.

Rochelle Shoretz

Rochelle Shoretz used her own struggle with breast cancer to create a powerful platform and community to support other Jewish women.
Lucy Kramer Cohen and Navajo Women circa 1937-38

This Columbus Day, Celebrate Lucy Kramer Cohen

by Larisa Klebe

Lucy Kramer Cohen (1907-2007) was an advocate for Native Americans, and spent much of her career, along with her husband Felix, fighting for their rights. Felix was hired by President Franklin Roosevelt to draft what became the Indian Reorganization Act. Lucy was knowledgeable about Native American cultures and about economics, and she and Felix discussed how to reform the legal and economic opportunities for Native Americans. 

Gusta Dawidson Draenger

Defiant to the end, Gusta Dawidson Draenger wrote Justina’s Diary, her account of the partisan struggles against the Nazis, on toilet paper in a Gestapo prison and inspired others to persevere when all hope seemed lost.
Galit Breen with Her Family

Kindness Wins: An Interview with Galit Breen

by Tara Metal

Galit Breen is a writer who works to combat body-shaming and create safe conversation spaces on the Internet. We chatted about cyberbullying, her new book, and how Judaism informs her activism. 

Topics: Activism
Julie Wise Oreck, cropped

New Orleans “Normal”: An Interview With Julie Wise Oreck

by Rachel King

In Katrina’s Jewish Voices, JWA’s collection of video interviews with New Orleans women in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Julie Wise Oreck discussed the extraordinary collaboration of the Jewish community to rebuild the city.

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