On January 4, 2018, Julia Watts Belser, a scholar who applies the lenses of gender, sexuality, disability, and ecology to Jewish texts, published her book Rabbinic Tales of Destruction: Gender, Sex, and Disability in the Ruins of Jerusalem.
Lillian Simon Freehof (1906-2004) was a leader in developing transcription services for people with visual impairments and blindness, working with Sisterhood volunteers at Rodef Shalom Congregation in Pittsburgh, PA, and, at the national level, with the Federation of Temple Sisterhoods (now WRJ). She also wrote books and plays for children and young adults and books on needlework and Jewish festivals for adults. She was the wife of Rabbi Solomon B. Freehof.
Author and poet Roya Hakakian was born in Tehran in 1966 and fled Iran with her family in 1985, seeking asylum in the United States. Hakakian is the author of two collections of Persian poetry, an acclaimed memoir, and essays on Iranian issues.
Gail Twersky Reimer is a teacher, writer, editor, passionate advocate for the humanities, and visionary pioneer of Jewish feminism. Reimer founded the Jewish Women’s Archive in 1995 to ensure that Jewish women’s stories would become integral parts of the historical record. Under her leadership, JWA pioneered the use of virtual technology in collecting, chronicling, and transmitting knowledge of Jewish women’s lives.
Menstrual justice is the latest front in the global fight for gender equality. Author Anita Diamant's new book, Period. End of Sentence, explores the stigma around menstruation and efforts around the world to ensure that menstruating people are not denied access to education, work, and full participation in society. Anita, whose 1997 best seller The Red Tent imagined a special retreat where the Biblical matriarchs went when they were having their periods, says in the modern day, menstrual justice has become "part of the justice language."
Susan Brownmiller is a radical feminist writer and journalist. She was a leader in the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1960s to 1980s (second-wave feminism). Brownmiller is bes-known for Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape (1975), the first comprehensive study of sexual violence.
Award-winning cultural anthropologist Ruth Behar has conducted groundbreaking research in Spain, Mexico, and her native Cuba. Her innovations in cultural representation have transformed ethnographic writing and reached a broad, non-academic audience through her film, poetry, personal essays, and young adult fiction.
Marjorie Agosín is an award-winning Chilean Jewish poet, memoirist, novelist, literary critic, editor, educator, and human rights activist. Her work, which she writes in Spanish, is widely translated into English and other languages. She is a professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies at Wellesley College.
Myriam Moscona is a Sephardic Mexican poet, novelist, journalist, and translator. She is the author of Tela de sevoya/ Onioncloth, an award-wining novel about the Sephardic experience, reflecting on death and Ladino, and Ansina (Like that, 2015), a book of poetry entirely written in Judeo-Spanish.
Ronit Matalon was an Israeli writer of Egyptian heritage who wrote and published in Hebrew. She was the author of numerous works of fiction and essays and worked for many years as a journalist. Her work touches on Mizrahi identity, family, gender, and politics, and incorporates visual elements as well as cultural criticism.
Emma Mordecai (1812-1906) navigated direct challenges to her Jewish faith and to her southern ideals by remaining loyal to both. She responded to the Civil War, which stirred antisemitism in the South and especially threatened Richmonders, with renewed commitments to Judaism and to the ideals of the Old South.
Cora Wilburn was one of the most prolific American Jewish women writers of her time. Much of her work appeared in secular and Spiritualist publications, but during her final decades she published poetry in Jewish publications. Her autobiographical novel, Cosella Wayne, published serially in 1860,is the first coming-of-age novel to depict Jews in the United States.
For two and half decades, former New York family court Judge Judith Sheindlin has riveted daytime viewers, racked up awards, and sold thousands of books to people hungry for the tough love of a tough Jewish mother. Millions of viewers who watch Judge Judy every day are treated to many Yiddish words and wisdom the jurist uses on a parade of deserving participants who enter her TV studio courtroom.
Susan Stamberg, the first full-time woman anchor of a national nightly news broadcast, played an important role in making National Public Radio (NPR) a news organization that offered pioneering opportunities to women journalists. Her half-century career at NPR opened the way for other women by demonstrating competence, originality, and compassion in reporting and interviewing.
Frances Elaine Rosenthal Kallison was a horsewoman and historian, a cofounder of the Texas Jewish Historical Society, and the only Jewish woman in the National Museum and Cowgirl Hall of Fame. A regional leader of the National Council of Jewish Women, she lobbied to end the poll tax and open pre-natal clinics for the poor. The exhibit she curated on Texas Jewry for the 1968 World’s Fair in San Antonio has been continually updated.
Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett is an American folklorist who is a scholar of Jewish cultures of Eastern Europe, North America, and Israel, museums, heritage, and tourism, as well as a curator of exhibits and documentarian. She is Chief Curator of the core exhibit of the POLIN Museum of Jewish history in Warsaw.
Wendy Perron is a dance writer, educator, teacher, performer, and choreographer. Across her thirteen-year tenure at Dance Magazine, Perron contributed nearly 1,000 individual pieces of dance journalism.
Born Elaine Cynthia Potter Richardson, Jamaica Kincaid is a Jewish Afro-Caribbean author. She was sent to the United States from her birthplace in Antigua at the age of sixteen and became a writer while living in the United States.
Writer and poet Sabrina Orah Mark joins us for the final episode in our four part series on creativity in pandemic times. Her monthly essays in The Paris Review are loosely based on motherhood and fairy tales, and their texture is a rich weave of fairy tales, politics, the past, and her children’s voices. She describes her prose as having little poems folded up inside of it. In our conversation, Sabrina draws parallels between the ways that motherhood and quarantine have shaped her creative process.
Louise Glück, American poet, essayist, and educator, is the recipient of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature, as well as numerous other awards for her writing; she also served as poet laureate of the United States from 2003 to 2004. One finds the personal, the mythological, and the Biblical woven intricately throughout Glück’s oeuvre.