Activism

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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

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?

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.

Helen Abrahams Blum

Helen Abrahams Blum earned a reputation as a talented painter before discovering a passion for all aspects of theater, from set design to directing.

Patricia Barr

Patricia Barr turned her personal struggles into a national cause as an advocate for breast cancer research and treatment.

Sophie Tucker

“The Last of the Red-Hot Mamas,” Sophie Tucker defied conventions about gender, age, weight, and ethnicity with her saucy comic banter and music.

Death of Sadie Loewith, Bridgeport activist

January 26, 1956

Sadie Loewith exemplified the adage that “all politics is local.”

Rosie the Riveter Wearing Tefillin

JOFA: Beyond Belief - Part 1

Susan Reimer-Torn

Today we are excited to publish the first installment of a three-part series on JOFA and Orthodox Feminism, posting weekly. After covering the JOFA conference for the Jewish Week, Susan Reimer-Torn found she had many timely questions to explore about the state and vision of Orthodox Feminism today. Her conversations with author and JOFA executive director Elana Sztokman confirmed that much needs to be shared about the conflicts, values, tensions, and goals of Orthodox Feminism. Elana's views, both as a thought leader and an organizational executive, illuminate dark corners and sound an inclusive note for all Jewish women interested in innovation and inclusiveness, regardless of religious affiliation.

Queen Esther and Bella Abzug: Costumes, Leadership, and Identity

Throughout history, activists have chosen different costumes and personas as strategic tools to help them stand up against injustice. Examine how the biblical figure Esther and the historical figure Bella Abzug fought for justice and liberation by adopting personas that helped them to achieve their goals. JWA staff will demonstrate ways to use the stories of these women in your classrooms as you prepare for Purim.

Ruth Emmerman Peizer, 1923 - 2013

I think Yiddish should be a living language, and we should certainly try to perpetuate something that has been so beautiful and has been around for a thousand years.

Taking on Fat Shaming

Hannah Pearlman

This week I learned about a blog that had taken up the mantle of “fat-shaming week.” For a week, this blog posted shaming and demeaning content about fat women. The stated reason behind fat-shaming week is that the fat-acceptance movement is attempting to change beauty standards, and that shouldn’t be allowed to happen. They believe that shame will get people to lose weight, and that will ultimately make people healthier and benefit society. Here are some titles of posts they published:

  • 5 Reasons Fat Girls Don’t Deserve Love
  • Always Take Photos of Fat Women
  • 5 Ways to Bully Fat Sluts on a Date

I’ll let that sink in for a minute.

Topics: Activism

Handcuffs to Synagogue: A New Year, A Recommitment to Action

Sammie Moshenberg

Orginally published by ZEEK Magazine.

Tonight at Kol Nidre services, I will chant the prayer that absolves me from all oaths taken the previous year. The thing is — just yesterday I took an oath, alongside 119 women on a very hot day in the shadow of the US Capitol building, an oath that I (with the organization I represent, the National Council of Jewish Women) plan to keep. In part, we promised to:

"create a House United for fair immigration reform, a House United through my family, my community and my place of work, a House United for justice and equality for all and especially for the women and children who make up three-quarters of all immigrants but whose needs are woefully ignored by our failed system."

And we put our bodies on the line to reinforce our commitment to this promise.

Take Back the Bar

Jordyn Rozensky

It’s one thing to swap stories (the guy who didn’t understand personal space on the subway, the guy who wouldn’t stop talking to you despite the headphones in your ears and your nose in the book, the guy who shouted something about what you were wearing) and, well, it’s another thing to take action. While great resources exist online—like hollaback, an app that exists in 64 cities across 22 countries—support can feel hard to come by. Harassment can feel isolating.

Topics: Activism, Feminism

Ways to Spend Your Privilege

Jordyn Rozensky
jacqui shine

As a white, cis female, I’m aware of my privilege. As a Jew, I’m especially aware of how we as a people and community have had first hand experience with more than our share of both privilege and persecution. Perhaps it is because I am so aware of my own privilege and so motivated to move beyond feelings of helplessness that Jacqui’s writing so moved me.

Kickstarter Tagline

Crowdsourcing Some Human Decency

Jordyn Rozensky

What sets Kickstarter’s response apart from other organizations is that they didn’t just apologize—they took it a step further. After reiterating that offensive, hateful and violent material has no place on their website they stated that they will indeed be following up their words and with action and “will donate $25,000 to an anti-sexual violence organization called RAINN,” acknowledging that “it’s an excellent organization that combats exactly the sort of problems our inaction may have encouraged.”

Topics: Activism
Bob Dylan at the Civil Rights March, August 28, 1963

How to Practice Tikkun Olam

Vanessa Zoltan

The world is absurd. The world is romantic. The world is corrupt. The world is beautiful. Which of these ideas, or which amalgamation is most serving to you in the life you want to lead? That’s the question.

Topics: Activism
No More Sexual Violence

Sexual Violence and Judaism: As a Community, We Need To Do More

Kate Rafey

Sexual assault and intimate partner violence occur in the Jewish community the same as it does in the rest of the country. It is an issue swept under the rug for most Jews. We point fingers at other groups of people— rape happens in the city, in other religious communities, in communities with no religion, but certainly not us, we say!

Teachers Tell All: Voices from the Field

Learn from a group of hand-picked educators from around the country. Seven teachers share their work and field questions from webinar participants. Presenter bios and Powerpoint presentations are included.

Birth of Sally Lilienthal, founder of Ploughshares Fund

March 19, 1919

A spunky child expelled from a tony private school for passing a note in class that contained dirty words.  A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College who grew up in a family where “there was some k

Chicago Teacher's Strike, September 2012

What's With All The Teacher Hate?

Sarah Seltzer

Sarah Seltzer, contributing writer to the The Sisterhood, shares her thoughts on education, class, gender, unions, and workers' rights.

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