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Jewish Holidays

Bella and Esther: If You've Got It, Flaunt It

How did Esther and Bella Abzug make change in their communities? How have Jewish women used costumes to help them achieve their goals? What can these stories teach us about gender and Judaism today?

Magda Altman Schaloum

Holocaust survivor Magda Altman Schaloum speaks out on behalf of all Holocaust survivors and their families. Born and raised in Hungary, she endured acts of antisemitism throughout her childhood, and in 1944 and 1945 Magda was sent to several concentration camps. She lost both her parents and her brother. Magda met her husband, Isaac Schaloum, in a Displaced Persons Camp in Germany. Isaac was from Salonika, Greece. They emigrated to Seattle in 1950, where Isaac became a tailor and businessman, and they raised three children. Although of Hungarian descent, Magda became an active and beloved member of Seattle’s Sephardic community. She volunteers for many Jewish organizations, including the Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center, and continues to bear witness to the horrors of hatred and antisemitism.

Singer Shirley Cohen Steinberg records the beloved Passover song “One Morning”

February 23, 1951

Singer Shirley Cohen Steinberg records the beloved Passover song One Morning.

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.

Barbara Dobkin

Barbara Dobkin is the Founding Chair of the Jewish Women’s Archive’s Board of Directors. She is also the founder and Chair of Ma’yan: The Jewish Women’s Project of the JCC in Manhattan and Chair of the Board of The Hadassah Foundation.

Kim Chernin

After a moment’s thought, I know: I come from a Russian-Jewish, Marxist family that had set aside its practice of Judaism. I didn’t even realize until long after he was dead that my father, who was born to an Orthodox family, had been a bar mitzvah and as an adult still read Hebrew. I have had to discover Judaism on my own, educate myself, and learn what it means to be a Jewish woman who worships Shekhinah (the feminine presence of God). I am proud of this accomplishment. I am a Jewish writer. What more is there to say?

E.M. Broner

E.M. Broner, Ph.D., Professor Emerita, is the author of ten books, including The Women's Haggadah; Weave of Women; The Telling: The Story of a Group of Jewish Women Who Journey to Spirituality through Community and Ceremony; and Mornings and Mourning: A Kaddish Journal.

Catching Fire this Hanukkah

I cannot walk out of my house (or open my laptop) without being bombarded with suggestions for Hanukkah (this year, often Thanksgivukkah) merchandise. (Ironically, I am simultaneously presented with ads for “Catching Fire” themed goods, in contrast to the movie’s message.) The Hanukkah narrative has the power to be subversive; it is a story of a minority making themselves heard, of an oppressed group claiming their rights. When those of us who are privileged to be able to buy gifts (and menurkeys) focus on the commercial elements of the holiday at the expense of the holiday’s story, we create a bubble like the Capitol. Hanukkah should be a call to remind us that we should be the districts, not the Capitol; our power should be channeled into fighting injustice, not simply consuming what is provided to us.

Editors note: If you haven’t read The Hunger Games (or seen the movies), you’ll be safe from any major spoilers in this post from one of our Rising Voices Fellows. Be sure to check the JWA blog each Tuesday for a new post from our fellows—and check out the great educational resources provided by our partner organization, Prozdor.

An Open Letter to Whoever Finds my Menurkey

In 2013 a miraculous thing happened. Thanksgiving and Haunkuah overlapped, and the whole world went crazy. The day was deemed Thanksgivukkah and quickly became a thing of legend. Songs popped up- some genuine, some parodiesWebsites devoted to the day were designed. T-shirts in every shape and size celebrated the day. Even the Mayor of Boston proclaimed the day to be an official holiday.

And I bought a menorah shaped like a turkey—aka a menurkey . 

Hanukkah: Ignite and Inspire - Online Learning Program for Jewish Educators

Build connections among Jewish values, trailblazing Jewish women, and the Hanukkah story. This program will provide a new lens for teaching your students about Hanukkah that goes beyond the Maccabees and the candle lighting blessings. JWA staff will model resources and activities that can be put to use as you celebrate the festival of lights.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Jewish Holidays." (Viewed on December 3, 2016) <https://jwa.org/topics/jewish-holidays>.

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