Politics and Government

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Women's Liberation Daughters: The Next Generation Panel

Jewish Feminism and Feminist Jews: More Questions than Answers

by  Judith Rosenbaum

By now it's both a truth and a truism that the personal is political.

Synagogue Sanctuary

Is the shul a place for political activism?

by  Kate Bigam

I spent last Friday night celebrating Shabbat at Temple Ohabei Shalom in Brookline, Mass., a Reform synagogue I’d never before visited. I was in awe of the chapel’s breathtaking, brightly colored stained glass windows, and I was fascinated by Rabbi John Franken’s take on Parshat M’tzora, which drew unexpected parallels between, of all things, skin diseases and marketing (all with a Jewish bent, of course). But it was a bright green insert in the Friday night program that struck me most.

Democratic National Committee (DNC) Logo

Jewish women and the Democratic National Committee

by  Leah Berkenwald

Yesterday, President Obama chose Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz as the new chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), making her the second Jewish woman to hold this position after Debra DeLee in 1994. After doing a little research at jwa.org, however, I realized that even though Wasserman Schultz may be the only the second Jewish woman to chair the DNC, she is actually joining a long tradition of Jewish women who have been active in the organization.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Mazel Tov Debbie Wasserman Schultz, new chair of the DNC!

by  Leah Berkenwald

Yesterday the Democratic party announced that President Obama chose Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz as the incoming chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, making her the first woman DNC chief in 15 years and the third in history. Considering that the first two women to lead the DNC only served temporary stints, Wasserman Schultz’s appointment is extremely significant.

Our Bodies, Ourselves: The Manual and The Mystery

by  Susan Reimer-Torn

The subject of a woman’s body, even in its most intimate functions, was not taboo in the orthodox Jewish world of my upbringing.

Jackie Speier, 2009

The personal is political: Rep. Jackie Speier tells her abortion story

by  Kate Bigam

Being pro-choice means a lot of things: Above all else, it means supporting a woman’s right to choose what happens to her body during pregnancy, abortion included. But because the stigma surrounding abortion is still so, well, stigmatized, “being pro-choice” is often just an amorphous concept (albeit a powerful one) without real faces or stories behind the crusade to ensure women’s rights.

"Top Secret Rosies": How female computers helped win WWII

by  Leah Berkenwald

Back before Microsoft, IBM, and Apple, the word "computer" referred to a person who computes.

Planned Parenthood Logo

Protect Planned Parenthood

by From the Rib

Nothing makes me sadder than the idea that Planned Parenthood would lose its government funding–something that, if some people in Congress get their way, could become a reality. Representative Mike Pence is currently sponsoring a bill that would deny government funding to any organization that provides abortions, regardless if they use government funds to pay for them.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Debbie Wasserman Schultz stands up for women!

by  Leah Berkenwald

The news over the H.R. 3, the so-called "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" has made me sick all day. If passed, this bill would make the Hyde Amendment (which currently prevents federal funding for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the mother's health) permanent and further limit abortion access by making it harder for abortion to be covered by private insurance and also limiting the rape exception to "forcible rape." Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is the first congresswoman to speak out on this issue

Martin Luther King, Jr. at the March on Washington, August 28, 1963

MLK and the Civil Rights Movement: Doing it Justice

by  Judith Rosenbaum

When I say "Martin Luther King, Jr." what comes to mind? I would bet you see him standing at the Lincoln Memorial, overlooking a sea of people on the Washington Mall, and hear the evocative words of his "I have a dream" speech. I understand why King's speech at the March on Washington in August 1963 has come to represent his life's work and his legacy, and why the moment is celebrated as the height of the Civil Rights Movement.

Representatives Gabrielle Giffords (left), Kirsten Gillibrand (center), and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (right)

Update: Rep. Giffords opens her eyes, sees strong women friends and mentors

by  Leah Berkenwald

In what is one of the most heartwarming moments of this whole tragedy, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords opened her eyes for the first time yesterday. The first thing she saw was her husband and two strong women -- her friends and mentors, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. They had been sitting with her, holding her hands, and encouraging her.

Gabrielle Giffords

Arizona's first Jewish Congresswoman with attitude

by  Ellen K. Rothman

The lead story in the first edition of the New York Times yesterday began this way: “Unusual is a relative term in American political life, but Representative Gabrielle Giffords fits the bill: avid equestrian and motorcycle enthusiast, repository of arcane health care data, successful Democrat elected three times in a Republican Congressional district, French horn player and wife of an astronaut.” Only near the end of the article did the Times mention another unusual fact about Gabrielle Giffords: that she was the state’s first Jewish congresswoman.

Gabrielle Giffords

Jewish Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords shot, may pull through

by  Leah Berkenwald

Via Tablet:

Though we don’t know for sure, it looks like Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, 40, the third-term congresswoman from Arizona who was shot point-blank in the head during a “Congress on Your Corner” event in Tucson this morning, is going to survive. Several of the other victims of the gunman’s subsequent bullet-spraying will not be so lucky. Giffords is Jewish—the first Jewish woman to be elected from Arizona—and is a moderate Democratic representing a conservative district along the Mexico border.  

Reality check: Wage gap for Jewish professionals worse than national average

by  Kate Bigam

Much to the dismay of a number of Jewish organizations, the Senate neglected to vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act last month, effectively shelving it for the foreseeable future. The bill, which would have augmented current civil rights law to protect against sex-based pay discrimination, had received broad support from civil rights and women’s rights groups but faced opposition from business organizations, whose members said it would be both difficult and expensive to enforce.

Racial Oppression Meme

Owning Our Jewish Privilege

by  Leah Berkenwald

A new meme blog is taking off.  "Privilege Denying Dude" represents the type of person who denies that they have privilege, usually the privilege that comes with being white, male, heterosexual, cisgendered (not transgendered), and American. It identifies the sorts of phrases and ideas that are used to deny this kind of privilege, like the idea that homeless people are lazy.

Lenore Pancoe Meyerhoff, 1927 - 1988

Alternately reckless, mischievous or courageous, Mom's defiance had a triple edge. At 10, she secretly smoked a corncob pipe stuffed with stolen tobacco. She was arrested at age 14 for driving her Aunt Minnie's car at 90 miles an hour without a license. (Her adored maternal aunt, something of a bon vivant herself, was in the car at the time.) She challenged a revered male leader at a federation board meeting for using green Israel bonds to pay his campaign pledge – a practice that no one else had the guts to expose.

Tomorrow: Jewesses for the win?

by  Elizabeth Imber

The country is abuzz with anticipation. Tomorrow, on November 2, 2010, citizens will head to the polls and cast their ballots in the midterm elections. Will the Republicans take the House? Will the Democrats keep the Senate? Tomorrow night or in the wee hours of Wednesday, America will know the results (barring any drawn-out polling mishaps or mandated recounts).

Elizabeth Scharpf's DIY Aid project: keeping African girls in school with affordable pads

by From the Rib

There was a really interesting article in The New York Times last week by Nicholas D. Kristof about individuals who are, in effect, creating foreign aid on their own. He writes about various people who, feeling passionately about helping the world, got up, changed their lives, and simply, did it. He tells a few stories, highlighting the fact that many of the members of the “Do-It-Yourself Foreign Aid Revolution” are women.

Why I Believe Anita Hill — Now More Than Ever

by  Sarah Seltzer

Like Hinda Mandell, I experienced the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings at a formative moment of my childhood.

Remembering Carla Cohen

by  Emily Kadar

This week, Washington, DC is mourning the loss of a towering figure in the literary and political community. Carla Cohen, the co-owner of the legendary Politics and Prose bookstore in Northwest DC, died October 11 at the age of 74 . Cohen was a model of socially conscious entrepreneurship.

Comparative Religion Isn't Just for Academics

by From the Rib

An interesting article popped up on the side of The New York Times recently--an article about the lack of knowledge among Americans about religion, including about their own. The article discussed the fact that on average, Americans were only able to correctly answer 50% of the questions on a recent survey by the Pew Research Center on the teachings and history of major world religions.

Why I plan to be a "Student for Choice"

by From the Rib

The end of summer marks the beginning of a relatively short but tumultuous season for the high school student: the college application process. The Common Application went up August 1, and with it came a slew of essays that students across the country must finish by January. Topics range from choice of major to hobbies to why you want to go to a particular school. I've been slowly working my way through them, and I found myself trying to answer the question of what activities I plan to pursue at college.

The Dark Side of Jewish Pluralism

by  Leora Jackson

One of the benefits of being in my parents’ home is access to a whole range of print media to which I would otherwise never subscribe. On the flip side, it also means I encounter a whole range of political opinions that I would otherwise avoid like the plague.

Gertrude Himmelfarb and the Politics of Morality

by  Alma Heckman

Historian Gertrude Himmelfarb celebrated her 88th birthday yesterday, August 8, while Congress took its first week of summer recess. In the months between now and November’s midterm elections, much will be made of liberal and conservative values, culture wars, and their derivate potential laws. We can safely anticipate advertisements of the basest ilk, making clear heroes and still clearer villains out of political adversaries.

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