Civil Rights

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National Federation of Temple Youth at the March on Washington, August 28, 1963

50 Years On: 5 Things I Learned About the March on Washington

Etta King Heisler
In honor of the 50th anniversary of the March tomorrow, I would like to share 5 things I have learned about the March on Washington that you may not already know—one for each decade. I hope you’ll take this opportunity to check your assumptions and look more closely at this monumental, game-changing event.
Heather Booth and Fannie Lou Hamer, 1964

Dayenu. Dayenu. Dayenu.

Emilia Diamant

This past year, I took a group of seven teens on a tour of the American South. The trip was inspired by my desire to infuse young people with a sense of history and context as it relates to Judaism in the South and Jews in the Civil Rights Movement.

We began in Atlanta, then drove to Alabama, stopping in Birmingham, Montgomery, Selma, and many places in between. We met with people who had lived through segregation and fought against it. We saw the Rosa Parks Museum, experienced history, and talked about what it means to be an American Jew from the Northeast.

Topics: Civil Rights

Birth of Vera Weisbord, Radical

August 19, 1895

Birth of Vera Weisbord, Radical

Judy Wilkenfeld, 1943 - 2007

Judy Wilkenfeld brought people together, made everyone with whom she came into contact better, and became a close and trusted friend, confidante, mentor, and role model to so many people with whom she worked.

Polly Cowan and Dorothy I. Height, 1964

How Do We Use Our Privilege?

Jordyn Rozensky

The struggle for social justice involves going beyond what is easy, taking actions that are often risky.  I find it helpful to have role models to remind me of the work that needs to be done and often is done by people of privilege. The Jewish Women's Archive website is brimming with just such role models—hundreds of examples of women who did not let their privilege positions keep them from taking courageous action. JWA gives us a look at how our foremothers reconciled the complicated relationship between privilege and activism.

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.

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.
Sammie Moshenberg Speaking at Rally, 2011

Meet Sammie Moshenberg - Mazel Tov!

Ellen K. Rothman

At its gala dinner on Tuesday, the National Council of Jewish Women will honor Sammie Moshenberg, Director of Washington Operations, for 30 years of service in NCJW’s Washington office.

Chalkboard in Jessica Kirzane's Classroom, January 2013

Guess What's Being Taught in my Sunday School Class?

Jessica Kirzane

A few weeks ago, on the Sunday before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I posed a question to the students in my class on "Jews and the Civil Rights Movement": "If you could plan a Jewish commemoration for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, what would it be? Who would be the audience? What would you do? Why should Jews, as Jews and in Jewish communities, commemorate this holiday?"

Union of American Hebrew Congregations Group

Where Are You? Searching for our Social Justice Role Models

Emily Saltzman

This piece was inspired by a webinar on “Jews and the Civil Rights Movement” presented by the Jewish Women's Archive in collaboration with AVODAH as part of the AVODAH Alumni network’s distance learning program. It  was originally posted on AVODAH's blog on February 5, 2013.

In 2009 I attended a workshop focused on Anti-racist organizing for white folks. The presentation allowed for self-reflection and next steps in our own organizing. At the end of the workshop, we were asked to share who our white social justice role models were. It was shocking, although not surprising, that the majority of the attendees shared that they did not have any white, social justice activists to look up to. I’ve been searching for my answer to this question ever since.

Topics: Civil Rights
Heather Booth and Fannie Lou Hamer, 1964

Tikkun Olam in a Mississipi Freedom School

Doreen Rappaport

On February 1, 1960, four black students in Greensboro, North Carolina, sat down at a race-segregated lunch counter in Woolworth’s and asked for service. When the waitress refused to serve them, they remained seated. This act of passive resistance launched a mass Civil Rights Movement involving tens of thousands of black southerners demanding equality and an end to the hideous system of racial segregation. I was a vocal music teacher in junior high school in the Lower East Side of Manhattan then, and not that much older than these students. Their courage and dignity in the face of constant violence fired my heart and mind.

The Emma Lazarus FederatioN

A few more stories for the road

Judith Rosenbaum

As I prepare to leave my position as JWA’s Director of Public History after more than 12 years here, my mind keeps returning me back to the summer day in 2000 when I first stepped into the offices of the Jewish Women’s Archive. At the time, I was a disgruntled graduate student, disillusioned with life in the Ivory Tower and the academic study of women’s history. (Was a library really the best place to learn about women’s activism, I wondered?).

Helen Suzman eulogized as indefatigable foe of apartheid

January 4, 2009

When Helen Suzman was buried on this day in Johannesburg, the African National Congress hailed her as a woman who became “a thorn in the flesh of apartheid by openly criticizing segregation of Blac

Flames

Rosa Parks and Hanukkah: Why Ignorance Isn't Always Bliss

Etta King Heisler

On the Thursday night before Hanukkah began, I attended an event called A Sip of Eser, an introductory session to the ten-part young adult learning program Eser (meaning 10) run by Hebrew College in nearby Newton, MA. Amidst the tumult of a Boston bar, and alongside several dozen people I had never met, I heard rabbinical student, Seth Wax, tell a Hanukkah story none of us had ever heard.

"Living the Legacy," Institute for Educators

JWA Spotlights Jewish Women's Activism

Sarah Seltzer

Like all large groups of people, American Jews are complex and irreducible despite some aspects of shared culture. Recently, the Jewish Women’s Archive made an interesting choice to focus a new curriculum on Jewish involvement in the labor and civil rights movements — without cheerleading or focusing solely on women’s involvement — thereby shining a probing light on that very complexity.

Mary Glickman

Interview with Mary Glickman: Enthralling Author, Charming Mensch (Part I)

Gabrielle Orcha

Mary Glickman is a writer, public relations professional, and fundraiser who has worked with Jewish charities and organizations.

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.

Rose Finkelstein leads successful strike

April 20, 1919

On April 20, 1919, the young women who worked as telephone operators at New England Telephone and Telegraph walked off the job.

Breaking free from tradition: New ideas for Passover learning

Etta King Heisler

Watch The Prince of Egypt. Throw the toy frogs. Have a chocolate seder. Create artistic interpretations of the Ten Plagues.

Black History Month: Wednesdays in Mississippi

Judith Rosenbaum

You might think that I – a public historian – would love the opportunities on our public calendar to celebrate historical figures and communities. But truth be told, I’m a bit of a skeptic.

Institute for Educators 2012 | Jewish Women's Archive

The Power of Our Stories

Jewish Women's Archive

Not this again: Women asked to move to the back of the bus in Brooklyn

Leah Berkenwald

"Women told they must ride back of the bus in Brooklyn"

I saw this headline on Jezebel.com and thought, "Not again." It's been less than two weeks since we heard about Yiddish signs asking Jewish women to "move to the side when a man approaches." Is it just me, or is the Hasidic/secular battle for public space in Brooklyn getting out of hand?

Irene Levine Paull circa 1960s

"Irene": A collection of stories and poems from a life lived courageously

Bonnie Paull

Her writings are archived in the Minnesota Historical Society. The Minneapolis Public Library has a chair in her name.

Judith Frieze, June 21, 1961

Why do we act? Lessons from the Freedom Rides

Judith Rosenbaum

Fifty years ago, in May 1961, a small group of civil rights activists embarked on a journey that would change them and change America. Boarding buses headed south for what they termed a "Freedom Ride," these young black and white activists challenged segregation by sitting together on the bus and in the waiting rooms of bus stations.  Though the Supreme Court had already declared segregation in interstate travel illegal, the Federal Government was not enforcing the law, so the Freedom Riders engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience to call attention to this injustice.

Ruth Nussbaum, 1911 - 2010

She understood the need for promoting religious pluralism, human rights, and democracy in Israel as fundamental Reform Jewish values. To Ruth, Jewish nationalism expressed in Zionism is a seamless and natural aspect of Reform Jewish identity.

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