Politics and Government

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Birth Control

Institute of Medicine recommends that birth control be covered by private insurers

Debra Nussbaum Cohen

When I was a young adult and ready to start on the birth control pill, I found that its cost was not covered by my health insurance. Paying the retail price was onerous. It didn’t seem right that insurance wouldn’t cover contraception, though it did cover the cost of giving birth and possibly even abortion. It just didn’t make any sense.

Now, finally, the federal government is ready to rectify the situation, and make contraception more economically accessible to women and men by requiring health insurance to cover its cost.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Rep. Allen West tells Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz to "act like a Lady"

Leah Berkenwald

Yesterday, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Democratic National Committee Chairwoman and Jewess with Attitude) reproached Rep. Allen West on his opposition to raising the debt ceiling and his support of the "Cut, Cap, and Balance" vote. 

Irene Levine Paull circa 1960s

"Irene": A collection of stories and poems from a life lived courageously

Bonnie Paull

Her writings are archived in the Minnesota Historical Society. The Minneapolis Public Library has a chair in her name.

In Shifra's Arms does not reflect a "Jewish divide" on abortion

Emily Kadar

A year ago, Washington Jewish Week reported on a new crisis pregnancy center (CPC) called In Shifra’s Arms. Unlike the vast majority of CPCs, which are typically funded and run by Christian organizations or churches, In Shifra’s Arms strives to serve women in the Jewish community.

"Donovan's Big Day" front Cover by Lesléa Newman

New York's Big Day

Leah Berkenwald

We were thrilled to see gay marriage pass in New York this weekend, just in time for the release of Lesléa Newman’s new book, Donovan's Big Day. Lesléa Newman is the author of the classic children's book Heather Has Two Mommies, which has helped a generation of childern see their families represented in the books they read. Her new book takes the work a step further by familiarizing the experience of watching one's parents get married.

Rabbi Kleinbaum at Gay Marriage Demontration

Reinventing Rituals: June, a month of Pride and same-sex marriages

Elyssa Cohen

June is full of irony: not only is June Pride month, but it is also the unofficial start to wedding season. So many are still fighting for equal marriage. As I write this, lawmakers in Albany are struggling to garner enough votes to make same-sex marriage legal in New York state (see resources to get involved at the end of this post).

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum stands up for gay marriage in the face of Jewish prejudice

Leah Berkenwald

Yesterday a scuffle broke out between a group of Rockland Hassidic men and Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah. The incident occurred during a protest outside the New York state senate where a gay marriage bill is currently under debate.

Brit Milah

About Circumcision

Galit Breen

A proposal to ban circumcision will be on the San Francisco ballot this November.

As a Jewish Mama, my response should fall somewhere along the lines of outrage and a head-tisk.

And as a bleeding heart Mama, my response should be somewhere in the range of agreement and an apology to my son.

I whole-heartdely feel all of these emotions. In other words, I’m conflicted.

I don’t agree with the circumcision ban. But you might be surprised why.

Shoshannah Stern Takes a Silent Stand Against Sexual Violence

Renee Ghert-Zand

The deaf Jewish actress Shoshannah Stern is more than a little bit angry — and for good reason.

Jaclyn Friedman

Jaclyn Friedman speaks out against slut-shaming and victim blaming at Slutwalk

Leah Berkenwald

Jaclyn Friedman is a 'Jewess with Attitude' who talks the talk and walks the walk -- the Slutwalk, that is. Jaclyn Friedman, founder and the Executive Director of Women, Action & the Media, is a powerful voice in the current Feminist movement. Co-author of Yes Means Yes!: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape, she is particularly concerned with tearing down rape culture.

Parshat Emor: What it means to leave a legacy

Elyssa Cohen

In our lives:
This past week we have seen a “modern” example of sacrifice upon hearing the news of American troops killing Osama Bin Laden. All week I reflected on what Osama’s life meant and the legacy he would be remembered by. Reading countless news articles caused me to question, was Osama happy? And, although the US spent a decade hunting him, did our country do the right thing by killing him? These are not easy questions, and there may not be easy answers.

Judith Frieze, June 21, 1961

Why do we act? Lessons from the Freedom Rides

Judith Rosenbaum

Fifty years ago, in May 1961, a small group of civil rights activists embarked on a journey that would change them and change America. Boarding buses headed south for what they termed a "Freedom Ride," these young black and white activists challenged segregation by sitting together on the bus and in the waiting rooms of bus stations.  Though the Supreme Court had already declared segregation in interstate travel illegal, the Federal Government was not enforcing the law, so the Freedom Riders engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience to call attention to this injustice.

Hillary Clinton, President Obama, and Security Team in the Situation Room, 2011

Hillary Clinton "too sexy" for Hasidic newspaper

Leah Berkenwald

Brooklyn-based, ultra-Orthodox, Hasidic Jewish newspaper, Der Tzitung, has decided to rewrite history by photoshopping Hillary Clinton out of the photo of U.S. leaders receiving an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden (right). Why? Because the idea of a woman in the Situation Room was "too scandalous."

A Fifth Question for Passover

Linda Frank

The Passover Seder offers an opportunity to remember more than just the exodus from Egypt and our desert wanderings.

Synagogue Sanctuary

Is the shul a place for political activism?

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

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!

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

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

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

Leah Berkenwald

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

Planned Parenthood Logo

Protect Planned Parenthood

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!

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

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.

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