Activism

Content type
Collection
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.

Judy Feld Carr

With courage, ingenuity, and determination, Judy Feld Carr rescued over 3,500 Jews from Syria.

Josephine Wertheim Pomerance

Josephine Wertheim Pomerance spearheaded efforts for nuclear arms control as founder and head of the Committee for World Development and World Disarmament (CWDWD).
Rachel Landau's Classmate at her Power Up Graduation

Fighting Back

by Rachel Landau

Can someone please tell me when taking advantage of women became an acceptable thing to do? Stories of assault on college campuses and towards so many people—as well as the overwhelming lack of prevention—give quite the impression that violence is an untouchable part of society. I’ve learned recently, though, that it doesn’t have to be.

Topics: Activism

Abigail Minis

Remarkable in every sense for her time, Abigail Minis ran multiple successful businesses while supplying rebel troops during the American Revolution.
Adrienne Rich

Poetry is Politics

by Rachel Landau

One of the best ways to write poetry is to read poetry: this is common knowledge probably spoken at every writing class in the world. However, this advice is not specific enough. The leader of the class should instead announce to the group of rookie writers that one of the best ways to write poetry is to read the poetry of Adrienne Rich.

Topics: Activism, Poetry

Rashida Jones

Rashida Jones has starred in dozens of films, but is best known for her roles on TV shows like The Office and Parks and Recreation.

Rebecca Touro Lopez

Rebecca Touro Lopez successfully petitioned the Rhode Island State Legislature to preserve the Touro Synagogue of Newport, one of the first cases of the government preserving an unoccupied historic building.

Bella Lewitzky

Dancer and choreographer Bella Lewitzky was as famous off stage as on, thanks to her battles for freedom of expression against both the House Un-American Activities Committee and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Emma Lazarus

Mining the Archive: Emma and Immigration

by Yana Kozukhin

Long before Emma Lazarus’ words were immortalized on that great copper statue, she was a young Jewish American girl growing up in New York. Throughout her life she produced numerous poems, essays, letters, translations, and even a novel.  

Topics: Activism, Poetry

Sarah Hughes

In a thrilling, surprise victory, Sarah Hughes won the gold medal for figure skating at the 2002 Olympics, becoming the first American to win that honor without ever having won a World or US senior national title.

Esther Loeb Kohn

Esther Loeb Kohn helped bridge the gap between Chicago’s volunteer and professional social workers and spent thirty years running the Hull House settlement whenever founder Jane Addams was away on her frequent travels.
Barbecue Image

Whose Labor Day Is It Anyway?

by Etta King Heisler

Ron Ashkenas’ recent post for Forbes about Labor Day has me feeling unsettled, and I finally know why. In his article, Ashkenas explains that the “real purpose [of Labor Day] was to serve as a tribute to the working class — the men and women whose physical, and largely manual, labor had built the country.” He goes on to bemoan (as we have in the past) how the meaning of Labor Day has been lost in end-of-summer soirees and all-American barbeques. So far, I’m totally onboard with his argument. We should find more meaningful ways to commemorate the people who built this country, brick by brick.

Marjorie Guthrie

The daughter of poet Aliza Greenblatt, wife of singer Woody Guthrie, and mother of singer Arlo Guthrie, Marjorie Guthrie became formidable in her own right as an activist for Huntington’s Disease and other genetic and neurological diseases.
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