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Politics and Government

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Rebecca Franks

A British Loyalist in the American Revolution, Rebecca Franks was known in high society for her sparkling wit.
Gloria Steinem, 1972

Political Judo: Why Words Matter

by Lisa Batya Feld

The New York Times had an interesting article today on how female politicians are leveraging offensive and sexist remarks by Republicans to mobilize their base and help with fundraising campaigns. It’s an empowering and deeply satisfying act of political judo, using your opponent’s attacks against them so their smear campaigns only leave them covered in muck themselves.

Children with a Toy Gun

Guns and Jews: Stand Up for the State of Our Union

by  Evelyn Becker

Many gun control advocates are disappointed that President Obama’s State of the Union address last night dedicated just two sentences to preventing gun violence. Since the start of January 2014, there has been a school shooting in our country every other day. Every. Other. Day.

Death of Sadie Loewith, Bridgeport activist

January 26, 1956

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

Helen Suzman, 1959

Mandela, Suzman, and All Those Who Stand Together

by Lisa Batya Feld

It was beautiful, last month, listening to the many tributes that went out for Nelson Mandela in the wake of his death. I wanted to say something about my own feelings about the loss of this man who embraced his enemies and helped transform a country, but I felt like I didn’t have the right.  What could I—a Jewish-American white woman—have to say? Then a colleague suggested that I write about Helen Suzman, whose death we remember this week. I drew a blank. Helen who?

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.

Poverty and Hunger in the Face of the Government Shutdown

by  Jordyn Rozensky

Last week we took a look at some of the aid programs that are being shut down due to the government standoff. As the shutdown stretches into its second week, families who rely on assistance are becoming more endangered—and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.

When media coverage focuses on our lack of a panda-cam in the National Zoo, I begin to question our priorities. It is, of course, upsetting that our National Parks, monuments and museums are closed; yet I wonder if these fluffier “human interest” stories detract from what our national conversation should really entail? Jokes from late night talk show hosts and the zeitgeist of the internet seem to hang on sardonic jabs at the government—which makes the shutdown appear to be a game.

In fact, the effects of the shutdown on food insecure families in America are life threatening.  The more I learn, the angrier I get. Just yesterday a friend of mine from Louisiana shared on her Facebook account that the school lunch program at the elementary school she teaches in was in danger of being discontinued. A large percentage of her students rely on this program for their one stable meal of the day. At the risk of putting it too simply, that just doesn’t seem right.

National Park Shutdown, 2013

National Shutdown

by  Jordyn Rozensky

The government shut down is on everyone’s mind—as it should be. Day two and we are all holding our collective breath. As of right now, I’m safe from the effects, but my family isn’t. My sister—a federal employee—is home, without pay, busy cleaning her basement when she should be out there making the world a better place.

My sister isn’t the only woman feeling the burn. Slate took a look at the ways the government shut down is impacting women in an article entitled Seven Ways the Government Shutdown Will Hit Women Hardest. Programs like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) are included on the list of "non-essential" government services shut down during the stand off.  

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

by  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.

Stand with Texas Women - Sign

To Governor John Kasich, “Pro-Life” = Anti-Women

by  Ariel Naveh

I think it’s time for those of us who seek to provide options, services and resources to all people to take back that term, and to promote a “pro-life” agenda that provides care from conception to death, and everywhere in between.

James Miller

North Carolina’s Downward Spiral

by  James Miller

Since April 29th of this year, citizens of the great state of North Carolina have been engaging in an ongoing event called “Moral Mondays.” Coordinated and led by the NC-NAACP, Moral Mondays represent the true essence of the Tarheel State—a state and a citizenry who is not afraid of standing up to oppression. It was only 53 years ago that Greensboro, one of the largest cities in NC, experienced this civic action first hand when four African American students from NC A&T staged a sit-in protest at a Woolworth’s segregated lunch counter.

Participant with Banner at the Boston Pride Parade, 2013

Proud, Yet Ambivalent: Immigration Reform, Pride and the LGBT Community

by  Ariel Naveh

This year, I can’t help but color my pride with a slight bit of ambivalence as a result of the failure of Senator Patrick Leahy’s amendment to the current Immigration bill, which would have recognized same-sex bi-national couples, affording them the same rights and benefits that opposite-sex couples obtain during the immigration process.

Letty Cottin Pogrebin

Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Founding Editor of Ms. Magazine, Talks with "The Slant"

by  The Slant

Accepting an award from the Jewish Women’s Archive earlier this year, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, a longtime activist, pointed to the Statue of Liberty, just visible in the foggy distance, and quipped, “I love her, even though she’s not Jewish.” Over murmurs of laughter, she spoke of her love for Lady Liberty’s “grace and beauty,” and defined what the monument represents to her: “welcome, freedom, hope.” The same could be said of Pogrebin herself.

Gertrude Weil's Ribbon at the National Suffrage Convention, 1917

Did Your Grandmother Have The Right To Vote?: With rights, comes responsibility

by  Evelyn Becker

According to an August USA Today/Suffolk University poll, there are 90 million Americans who “could turn a too-close-to-call race into a landslide for President Obama, but by definition they probably won’t.” The poll found that people who are eligible to vote but aren’t likely to do so “back Obama’s re-election over Republican Mitt Romney by more than 2-1.”

"The Return from Toil," July 1913

Labor Day and Leisure

by Judith Rosenbaum

Labor Day. In America, this holiday is more often associated with barbeques, sales, and the farewell to summer and white linen than with the contributions of workers. By design, it’s a less overtly political holiday than the workers’ holidays in Europe—the U.S. intentionally picked a day other than the International Workers’ Day of May 1st to avoid any whiff of radicalism.

Another Emma "Makes Trouble"

by  Deborah Fineblum Raub

Pregnant women take note: There’s something about the name “Emma” that turns a girl into a prizefighter swinging her fists for human––often specifically women’s––rights, or, as we like to say here at the Jewish Women's Archive, a “troublemaker” in the best sense of the word.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 2004

"Jurist with Attitude" Celebrates 19 Years on Supreme Court

by  Deborah Fineblum Raub

If you are under the age of 20, there’s never been a time in your life when a Jewish woman hasn’t been sitting on the Supreme Court of the United States.

Kepler's Supernova Remnant

Women as Wave, Women as Particle: The gender-racial politics of the male-female gaze

by  Gabrielle Orcha

Who are you?

I mean really . . .

Who are you . . . when you are alone and no one is watching?

What is your wave state?

Anita Steckel with her Painting "Skyline", 1974

Of Peonies & Penises: Anita Steckel’s Legacy

by  Deborah Fineblum Raub

Anita Steckel was 82 when she died last March. But Anita, her many fans would insist, was way younger than most of us will ever be.

Liz Lerman's "Ferocious Beauty: Genome"

Liz Lerman: Still Dancing, Still Crossing

by  Gabrielle Orcha

This July marks one year since choreographer, author, and innovator Liz Lerman parted ways with her dance company, formerly the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange (now just the Dance Exchange) to fly solo as an independent choreographer.

Lisa Brown, Michigan State Representative

Why are there so many prominent Jewish pro-choicers in politics?

by  Sarah Seltzer

Michigan State Representative Lisa Brown has become a new heroine of the pro-choice movement, and she achieved this status both by invoking her Judaism and by using the word “vagina” on the State House Floor, during a heated debate of an omnibus anti-abortion bill.

Michigan state Rep. Lisa Brown: Jewish superhero for abortion

by  Leah Berkenwald

Michigan state Rep. Lisa Brown is a champion. A hero. A "Jewess with Attitude" to the n'th degree. 

Gail T. Reimer with Debbie Wasserman Schultz at the 2012 Jewish American Heritage Month White House reception

Celebrating Jewish American Heritage Month at the White House: Looking toward the future

by  Gail Reimer

This year’s White House celebration of Jewish American Heritage month was a simpler affair than in years past. The program was President Obama, and his remarks were brief.

Lily Winner and immigration, then and now

by  Leah Berkenwald
Ninety-one years ago today, journalist and playwright Lily Winner published an essay in The Nation entitled "American Emigrés."
"Women Resume Riots Against Meat Shops" New York Times, May 17, 1902

The Real Housewives of the Lower East Side

by Judith Rosenbaum

One hundred and ten years ago today, something surprising happened. Jewish immigrant housewives in New York City—concerned and angry about a sharp rise in the price of kosher meat from 12 cents to 18 cents per pound—launched a kosher meat boycott that lasted nearly a month, spread to several other boroughs of New York, sparked violent riots and arrests, and attracted much media attention before ending with the successful lowering of meat prices.

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