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Episode 101: The Women's War Room

Israel has been at war with Hamas for nearly a month. Israeli and Palestinian casualties are devastating–and mounting. In Israel, women are on the front lines of a major grassroots mobilization: providing emergency relief to a country in crisis. An army of volunteers of all ages and genders has stepped in to organize clothing, food, and housing for displaced Israelis; students and therapists are working with traumatized kids; and programmers are building apps to connect people with services. Many of these efforts have emerged from organizations that originally formed to protest the Netanyahu government's proposed judicial reforms. They’ve now shifted gears to respond to the current crisis in Israel. In this episode, we speak with Lee Hoffman Agiv, Field Operations Manager of the feminist organization Bonot Alternativa (Building an Alternative), who’s coordinating efforts from Bonot’s “war room.”

Elsie Chomsky

Elsie Chomsky, one of the many young Jewish educators influenced by reformer Samson Benderly, taught Modern Hebrew and organized arts activities for many years at Gratz College in Philadelphia. She trained and supervised student teachers who taught in local Reform and Conservative Hebrew schools.  

Episode 100: Missing Vivian Silver

Vivian Silver has been missing since October 7, the day Hamas terrorists murdered more than 1,400 people in Israel and took more than 200 hostages to Gaza. Since then, more than 3,000 Palestinian civilians have been killed by Israel's air strikes in Gaza. Vivian is 74 years old, from Kibbutz Be’eri, on the Gaza border. In this episode, we speak with her friend Ariella Giniger, who was in touch with Vivian as Hamas terrorists entered her house on the morning of October 7.  We’ll also hear parts of our 2017 interview with Vivian, an active member of Women Wage Peace, a movement of thousands of Israeli and Palestinian women demanding a peaceful solution to the conflict.
(Postscript: On November 13, Vivian Silver was declared dead after her remains were found at her home. May her memory be a blessing.) 

Sign that says Kidnapped and includes names and information about two Israelis kidnapped in Hamas attack on October 7

My Neighborhood is Now a House of Mourning

Rachel Bernstein

In the awful days since October 7, the people in my tight-knit, mostly Orthodox LA neighborhood have come together to share their sadness, anger, and grief. 

Episode 99: A Wish in Dark Days

It's been a terrifying week of violence in Israel. Instead of our planned episode of Can We Talk?, this week we offer a poem called “Mishalot”—requests, or wishes—by Esther Raab, one of modern Hebrew’s first female poets, born in Israel in 1894.  She wrote “Mishalot” in 1967, around the time of the Six-Day War. The poem is a reminder that even in dark days, hope can be part of our legacy.

Idit Klein

Women Who Dared

Julie Johnson interviewed Idit Klein on February 25, 2005, in Boston, Massachusetts, as part of the Women Who Dared Project. Idit's interview highlights her lifelong journey from childhood in Israel to her activism as a Jewish leader, emphasizing her commitment to supporting marginalized groups, particularly LGBTQ+ Jews, and her deep connection to her Jewish identity and the importance of community.

Marilyn Paul

Women Who Dared

Judith Rosenbaum interviewed Marilyn Paul on July 27, 2000, in Lexington, Massachusetts, as part of the Women Whose Lives Spanned The Century Oral History Project. Marilyn's journey from a childhood in Lexington with a distant connection to Judaism and Israel to her eventual involvement in public health work in Gaza challenged her perspective on management culture, gender dynamics, and Palestinian-Israeli collaboration, ultimately shaping her unique bond with Israel and her career in organizational management, which she plans to continue alongside her husband through consulting for nonprofits in Israel, while reflecting on the cultural differences she's observed between Israeli and American societies.

Episode 97: Golda Reconsidered

Golda Meir is known as Israel's "Iron Lady": gruff, chain-smoking, and fiercely ambitious. In the eyes of many, she was also responsible for the Yom Kippur War, which cost thousands of lives. But Golda's story is far more complex.

In this episode of Can We Talk?, as we approach 50 years since the Yom Kippur War, we go beyond the caricatures and talk about aspects of Golda's career that are often overlooked: the ways she helped build the fledgling state of Israel, her relationship with Israel’s Mizrahim, and her complicated attitude toward feminism. We speak with Guy Nattiv, director of the new film Golda, starring Helen Mirren, and with author Francine Klagsbrun, whose biography of Golda, Lioness, came out in 2017. 

Image shows book cover reading "Places we Left Behind - A Memoir-in-Miniature" with the authors name, Jennifer Lang, on an open cardboard box; right hand side shows woman with brown hair and glasses standing ourdoors

Q & A with Jennifer Lang, Author of "Places We Left Behind"

Jodie Sadowsky

JWA chats with author Jennifer Lang about her forthcoming book, Places We Left Behind: a memoir in miniature. 

Topics: Marriage, Memoirs, Israel
Film Poster of two teenage girls with faces close together

Q & A with Sarah Meital Benjamin about Her New Film, 'Arava'

Jen Richler

JWA chats with Sarah Meital Benjamin about her new short film Arava, which tells the story of two teenage best friends traveling through small-town Israel in search of redemption.

Topics: Film, Israel

Sara Meirowitz

Boston Women Rabbis

Lynne Himelstein interviewed Rabbi Sara Meirowitz on April 2, 2014, in Brookline, Massachusetts, as part of the Boston Women Rabbis Oral History Project. Rabbi Meirowitz discusses her journey to becoming a rabbi, influenced by her father, experiences at Yale University's Hillel, and time in Jerusalem while discussing her perspectives on Modern Orthodoxy and Israel.

Episode 93: Alice Shalvi: Israeli Feminist Pioneer

Alice Shalvi has been an Israeli feminist pioneer for decades. Born in Germany and raised in England, she moved to Israel in 1949, a young woman excited to help build a new state. She’s spent her life there, working for gender equality and a more just society. In this episode of Can We Talk?, Judith Rosenbaum joins us to tell Alice’s story, and to talk about the ways she’s fought to make Israel a better country. You'll also hear excerpts from conversations between Judith and Alice.



Episode 92: Beyond the Binary: Making Hebrew More Gender-Inclusive

Hebrew is a very gendered language; every noun in Hebrew is either feminine or masculine. So are pronouns, including “I” and “you.” This makes it nearly impossible to utter a sentence in Hebrew without using gender. So as a Hebrew speaker, how do you refer to a mixed-gender group? What about nonbinary people? In this episode of Can We Talk?, we speak with Michal Shomer, Dafna Eisenreich, and Tal Jenner-Klausner, three activists who are taking Hebrew beyond the gender binary and promoting a Hebrew language that includes people of all genders.

Episode 91: Israel at 75: Voices of Protest

Israel turns 75 this week. This milestone comes at a moment of unprecedented upheaval in Israeli society and escalating violence between Israelis and Palestinians. Over the past few months, around 1.5 million Israelis have poured into the streets to protest the judicial reforms proposed by Netanyahu’s far-right coalition government, which would weaken the power of the Supreme Court.

In this episode of Can We Talk?, we'll hear four Jewish Israeli women from diverse backgrounds reflect on how the country arrived at this tumultuous moment. They'll talk about their hopes and fears for the country, and what the protests have meant to them.

Sara Dalkowitz Kaplan

Weaving Women's Words

Roz Bornstein interviewed Sara Kaplan on December 4, 2002, in Seattle, Washington, as part of the Weaving Women's Words Oral History Project. Kaplan discusses her Jewish upbringing, experiences as the only Jewish kid in her town, involvement in debate and Hillel, meeting her husband, moving to Seattle, working in the Democratic Party, fighting antisemitism, teaching, and support for Israel.

Marillyn Tallman

Women Who Dared

Rosalind Hinton interviewed Marillyn Tallman on February 2, 2005, in Chicago, Illinois for the Women Who Dared Oral History Project. Tallman talks about her childhood, activism work, involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, and her Jewish life and Zionist beliefs.

Episode 88: Jewish Women Behind the Mic

Here at Can We Talk?, we’re podcast fanatics. And we especially like shows that feature Jewish women’s voices. So we decided to bring together some of our favorite Jewish women podcasters to talk shop. In this episode of Can We Talk?, Judith Rosenbaum takes us behind the scenes with Stephanie Butnick from Unorthodox, Judy Gold from Kill Me Now, and Emily Bazelon from Slate's Political Gabfest, to talk about what makes their shows Jewish, sharing the mic with men, and answering to their listeners.

Batya Gur

Israeli author Batya Gur is best known for her mystery novels centering on the investigations of detective Michael Ohayon. Her work brought literary complexity to the Hebrew mystery novel.

Woman talking and standing in front of slide presentation

I Will Not Hide my Judaism in Progressive Spaces

Adriana Leigh

In naming the nuances of my Jewish experience, I hope that other progressive and feminist Jews feel seen, supported, and empowered.

Dvorah Hacohen wins the National Jewish Book Award for "To Repair a Bro­ken World "

January 20, 2021

On January 20, 2021, distinguished Israeli historian Dvorah Hacohen won the National Jewish Book Award for To Repair a Bro­ken World, a biography of Hadassah founder Hen­ri­et­ta Szold. The multitude of strong female Jewish voices present in the construction and content of Hacohen’s book speaks to an intergenerational admiration for Jewish women leaders.  

Roz Garber

Women Who Dared

Judith Rosenbaum interviewed Roz Garber on July 26th, 2000, in Brookline, Massachusetts, as part of the Women Who Dared project. Garber, a Canadian, shares her journey from choosing to study in the United States and embracing Conservative Judaism, to her work in the Soviet Union, educating and supporting Refuseniks, and her subsequent activism within the Jewish community, recognizing the importance of fighting injustice both at home and abroad.

Barbara Gaffin

Women Who Dared

Judith Rosenbaum interviewed Barbara Gaffin in Boston, Massachusetts on July 11, 2000, as part of the Women Who Dared Oral History Project. Gaffin, raised in a Jewish community, recounts her career in Jewish organizations, her perspective on the relationship between American Jews and Israel, her work in Ethiopia, and the prejudice and contradictions she encountered while helping others.

Episode 83: Fighting for Israel's "Chained Women"

In Israel, marriage and divorce are governed by Jewish law and controlled by the ultra-Orthodox rabbinical courts. If a Jewish woman wants a divorce, she has to get permission from her husband—and he can refuse. That's exactly what happens to about 1 in 5 Jewish women in Israel who want a divorce, according to a recent survey. In this episode of 'Can We Talk?,' we speak with Kylie Eisman-Lifschitz, board chair of Mavoi Satum, about how rabbinical control over the divorce process in Israel harms Jewish women, and about how organizations like Mavoi Satum are taking on the problem, by working with women one-on-one, but also by fighting for systemic change. 


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