Jewish Feminists Report Back from 18 Marches

Anchorage, Alaska

Illustration by Barbara Brown.

Illustration by Barbara Brown.

I am so proud of my town, I could burst! In a huge snowstorm, with temperatures just emerging from days below zero, with snow sitting two feet deep and roads barely plowed; 2,000 women and men tromped through the snow to march for human rights.

Thank you, Anchorage.

Oh, friends and I had traveled the “What’s the use?” path, the “I hate marches” groan, even the “What if it’s 9° below?” complaint. But ultimately, it was the “Stand up and be counted” refrain that spoke to us all.

So I pulled out the paints, brushes, and butcher paper, my supplies for all the signs and banners I’ve made over the years. Mostly, they’ve been “Congratulations!” or “Happy Birthday,” but this time, I wanted to say everything important. I wanted my sign to speak loudly, to put my heart and mind out there. To make visible all the hopes I’ve had for our world, and how devastated I am at these steps backward….

Do you know what it feels like to be in a crowd of 2,000 people who all wish each other life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness no matter whom they love, what color they are, and where they came from? In this country where we battle discrimination and harassment for all those things – and the likelihood the battle will only get uglier – this was a friendly, welcoming gathering. A warm oasis in two feet of snow.

Barbara Brown. See the full version at her blog, http://3rdthirds.blogspot.com/2017/01/im-with-her.html.

 

Boston, Massachusetts
amy hazel willisThis is the future of feminism—my 17-year-old daughter and friends making signs for tomorrow. We are marching proudly in Boston! As for me, I’m a steaming kettle – I will not be silenced!  

Amy Halzel Willis

 

Dayton, Ohio
The Women’s March Shabbat inspired and re-energized me. The police department estimated our numbers at 3,000, which is far more than I have seen at a rally in Dayton.  In addition, Dayton sent seven busloads of people to Washington D.C., including my roommate, who had to rent a scooter to attend.

I have been fearful and angry from the day of the election through the inauguration.  I am still  fearful of the policies and hate proposed by Trump, his administration, and a Tea Party driven Congress, but the Women’s March also made me more hopeful.  That millions turned out to protest gives me hope that people will not abide hateful ideology and legislation that turns the clock back on hard won civil rights.

Judith Heller

 

Helena, Montana
I live in Helena, Montana, not readily know, as a bastion of liberalism, Jews or people in general.  Yesterday, despite a “high” of 21 degrees and lots of snow on the ground, over 10,000 people marched, rallied, chanted and listened to empowering speeches on the Capitol steps of our fair state. To help put that in perspective, 10,000 people is 1% of our entire state’s population (1,000,000). Now that is the type of 1% I can get behind! The organizers of the march were hoping for at least 1,500 participants, in order that we could encircle the Capitol grounds. As of the day before the event, 2,500 people were expected.  10,000 was beyond a dream come true.

Many of you have heard about the unfortunate goings on in Whitefish, Montana since the election. Richard Spencer and others from his alt-right, anti-Semitic, White Nationalist ilk have been mouthing off, threatening and trolling our small Jewish population there. Fortunately, the statewide response to this hate has been swift and loud. An organization, Love Lives Here, has come together to support the Jewish community there. Our state officials have spoken out against hatred and bigotry. In Missoula, in response to neo-Nazi leafleting, the local paper put out a map of the state with a menorah/chanukiah printed on it, for all to post on their windows during Chanukah. Montana is a great state with lots of progressive people here. Yesterday’s march and rally were the first many had ever attended. People are feeling energized, supported and encouraged. Our voices will be heard. This is only the beginning.

Together we are stronger.

Janet Tatz

 

Highland Park, New Jersey
Across the country, small-town rallies and marches seem to have popped up spontaneously at the last minute in many places, like my hometown.

Only three days before Saturday, the 21st, Rabbi Stephanie Dickstein, a leader in the Highland Park, New Jersey, Jewish community, proposed and choreographed an afternoon Shabbos walk in an email to a handful of friends and followers, which circulated widely within 48 hours, before sundown on Friday night.

Having committed to marching in New York City that day, Rabbi Dickstein provided her walkers with a thoughtful and doable 30-minute itinerary, with readings to go with each stop.

Katherine Olstein  

 

Houston, Texas
Houston, Texas15,000 strong. Women, men and children of all colors, races, and sexual orientations.

Susan Askanase

 

Knoxville, Tennessee
Knoxville Tennesee The Women’s March in Knoxville, Tennessee, a small blue ray of hope in a mass sea of red, delivered a thoughtful, spirited event, big on love, diversity, inclusion and advocacy. I witnessed one human family, multi-generations, young and old, join together for a single purpose of overcoming the hate, bigotry and misogyny of our country.

Kathy Mazur  

 

London, England
It was a fantastic thing to be part of 100,000 women and men in London, and there were other marches in the UK. Worldwide there were three-and-a-half million people standing up to be counted with the ones who want a world of equality, peace and care for everyone. I have been on many demonstration and marches in my 64 years, but never one that had women and men together clearly led by women.   

The events—Brexit here and the election of Donald Trump in the USA—have given normality to racism, anti-Semitism and sexism. My thought, as I fight in my mind for a hopeful perspective, is that it is so “bad” that it is “good.” The forces that want to divide us are so clear and obvious that it has given those of us, and there are so many, [a chance] to say “We want something else.”

I loved the humour, and although there were anti-Trump sentiments, overwhelmingly it was a call to rise. As one placard said quoting Michelle Obama: “When Trump goes low, we go high.” 

I’m still feeling the hope and moved by the size of the worldwide response.  The winds of change are definitely being felt in England. Tikkun Olam; we are repairing the world.

Ruth Steinberg

 

Los Angeles, California
la marcgI attended the Women’s March in Los Angeles this morning. There were also some wonderful signs that I was unable to photograph, but which I’ve reprinted below.make america feminist

“There is no planet B”

“Resistance is fertile”

“We shall overcomb”

“We need leaders not tweeters”

“I’m not ovary-acting”

“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change; I am changing the things I cannot accept.”

“Men of Quality Embrace Equality”

“This Bitch Votes”

Zazi Pope

 

Madison, Wisconsin
Screen Shot 2017-01-25 at 2.52.15 PMIn 2004 we three proudly marched with Lilith in the DC March for Women’s Lives. Here we are 12 1/2 years later, here in Madison, WI,  still fighting for women’s rights. I’m wearing my buttons from the 1977 International Women’s Year Women’s Convention in Houston, including one from the IWY Jewish Women’s Caucus.

Phyllis Holman Weisbard

***

What a day it was! Although the weather was gloomy, chilly and damp, spirits were not. And although many people couldn’t really hear the speakers (because there were 75,000 people in attendance) the crowd was energizing and loud, chanting slogans and singing songs. The numbers far exceeded expectations and the streets leading down State Street from UW campus to the state capital were packed, but everyone was cordial, peaceful and friendly, often making way for a stroller or a toddler in a backpack. 

I am 71 years old and although I have supported the causes of many marches and demonstrations over the years, I have rarely participated in them, mostly because I hate crowds. And partly because I have questioned their efficacy…. Then I heard about the March in Madison, my state capital, and after some hemming and hawing I decided to go. Why? Why was this event so important that I put aside my crowd-fearing and to march along with thousands of other women?

Is it for my daughter and granddaughter, to tell them that the voices of women count? Yes. Is it because of my son, who has health care for the first time because of the ACA? Yes. Is it because of the volunteer work I do with immigrants? Yes. Is it because of my belief in science and to protest those who say climate change is a hoax? Yes, yes and yes.

But mostly it’s because of my outrage at the moral turpitude of the incoming president. I recently learned from my immigration work that moral turpitude is a legal concept that refers to “conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty or good morals” and has appeared in in U.S. immigration law since the beginning in the 19th century. Isn’t it ironic that this term applies so well to our new administration? Ironic? Yes. Scary? Definitely.

Susan Remson

 

Naples, Florida
Naples 1“I have not marched since the seventies!” So many older women told each other the same thing this morning at the Naples Women’s March. I was wearing a pink kippah, indicating my Pussyhood and my Jewishness. Many other women and men were likewise rocking iconic, grabbable pink hats!

Protest signs were our liturgy this Shabbat morning. We prayed with our feet and with our placards.  As we marched, we chanted together,  “2, 4, 6, 8! Love is love, gay or straight!” We sang, “All you need is love…” We cried, “Women’s rights are human rights!”  and “Immigrants are welcome here!” My sign read, “Jewish women will never stop fighting for human rights!”

A little girl rode in a red wagon labeled, “I’m only an angry feminist when you’re a racist, ignorant, misogynistic bully.” A young woman hung a large open picture frame over her baby’s stroller. The slogan on the frame said, “#WhyIMarch.”  Her tiny reason for marching slept peacefully in the Florida sunshine.

I don’t know how many of us stood together this Shabbat morning.  The number may not be accurately reported. No matter.  We prayed our “standing” prayer, our עמידה,our “resistance” prayer and we prayed it out loud with our loud women’s voices.

Cantor Barbara Ostfeld

 

New York City
Yesterday I joined thousands of others—women, men, families, children and dogs—in New York City for the Women’s March.  As soon as my friends and I left the train station, we felt the energy of the march. We walked to the east side, where a friend had found a bagel place to meet up with others joining us before we walked to our designated starting point and assigned time. By the time we reached Second Ave. it was obvious we’d never get any farther, and joined hundreds to wait. And wait and wait.

While the march may have started at 11 AM, by 1PM, streets were jampacked. We enjoyed the signs, the costumes, the various hats, and the jovial, respectful, peaceful atmosphere. A fire-engine siren sent everyone to either side of the street; this was all done without incident, and the firemen high-fived the marchers as they drove through the crowd.

I marched to honor the values I hold, the causes and concerns that the Trump administration promises to dismantle and destroy. I marched to honor my parents, who fought for labor rights, marched for civil rights, and demonstrated against the Vietnam War.  And I marched because I have eight grandchildren, and I worry about the world they and all children are inheriting.   Whether it’s health care, equal employment and education opportunities, voting rights, civil rights, marriage and gender equality, environmental protection and more.

I will be heard. Again and again.

Lisa Winkler

 

San Francisco, California

This photo was made  by a child and spotted on the N. Judah streetcar, packed with protesters, on our way downtown.

This photo was made by a child and spotted on the N. Judah streetcar, packed with protesters, on our way downtown.

I’m 67. My knees hurt. I have the beginning of an ingrown toenail. I had pneumonia this year and yesterday the rain was pouring down.  I was a protester in the 60’s and 70’s but could I still do it? The underground streetcar going downtown to the rally site in Civic Center was jammed.  Many families with small kids.  “Elliott, share your tofu with your sister,” the harried mom standing next to me told her five year old. When we emerged the streets were jammed.  We moved as one mass, pushed along by other bodies. Everyone was polite. Someone held my umbrella when I tied my shoe. A stranger and I hugged after I held her umbrella so she could take a selfie. It took me 25 minutes to walk the one block to the Asian Art Museum to find my friends.  I moved almost suspended between the crush of bodies, a pleasant undertow. When I finally found them, in rain pants, in pink pussy hats, I felt joyful, grateful for their familiarity in the enormous sea. We were happy to start marching. It felt better to be moving and wet than wet standing still. Soon we worked our way to the center of Market Street, the large boulevard that crosses the entire city. The wonderful feeling of transgression, of owning the street, came back to me from earlier marches. I didn’t see many police. Nor were there the marshals of old, leading chants, organizing. The march felt very individual, personal, a collage of responses, costumes, posters, old people, young people, every color, gender identity, united by the need to make our dissent visible.

Audrey Ferber

 

Santa Rosa, California
Santa Rosa 1Despite pouring rain, over 5,000 people marched through downtown Santa Rosa, 50 miles north of San Francisco. Rally speakers included community organizers, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (Russian River Branch), government representatives, and a gospel choir. We were a diverse crowd—different genders, ages, and races. Together, a good beginning for national resistance and local service.

Laura Blatt

 

Seneca Falls, New York
Just after 8 AM on Sunday, the day after I marched with my husband and two young sons in Seneca Falls, New York, the phone rang.

Of course, I assumed someone had died or was gravely ill. Nobody calls me that early.

It was my mother and she was in tears.

“I’m so proud of you,” she said between sobs.

“Why?” I asked, puzzled.

Even though she knew weeks before about my family’s plans to march and we sent her photos of it Saturday afternoon, something had changed.  Her original bafflement about why we bothered to participate had turned into an urgent plea and unexpected admiration.

Like many of us, my relationship with my mother is complicated. Her total lack of self-confidence and self-efficacy is a constant strain on our relationship. Even in this moment she cried, “None of my friends would have asked me to go.”

“You could have asked them,” I said, exasperated that even in this emotional state she framed her lack of participation as a result of not having a personal invitation.

“I will now. I’ve never felt this passionate,” she said.

In spite of everything, I believe her.

She grew up in the rural South where there was no Women’s Movement, only “good” girls growing up fearing God and fearing being labeled “unladylike.”

Seeing the streets clogged with women of all ages across the U.S. presented her with an alternative reality like she has not seen before.

I imagine she is not the only one who didn’t march but would show up tomorrow if there was another one.

And this time, if she doesn’t ask me first, I’ll ask her to go with me.

Andrea Hickerson

 

St. Louis, Missouri
st.louis 2

Sue Fischlowitz

 

Tucson, Arizona

I watch the glow of the divine sunrise as I walk my little dog. For weeks I have been thinking about the march on Saturday. Alternately called THE WOMEN’S MARCH or the ANTI-TRUMP MARCH or even the PUSSY MARCH.

Whatever people choose to call it, for me it is a chance to stand up and be counted. I will support LOVE and KINDNESS. I will support the right of women to choose medical care for their bodies. I will support the right of all children, no matter their abilities, to a free and public education, I will support the rights of ALL people to love, marry and raise children no matter their gender identity; I will support people who do not worship the way I choose to worship to have the freedom of choice to worship as they choose.

I will also support the one and only green earth we all share and experience the consequences of our actions. I will support you, and through my standing up to be counted, I will come closer to who I am. At once a woman, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a bisexual, a Jew, a taxpayer, a homeowner , a caregiver, a therapist, a writer, an artist, an activist and perhaps most dear—a friend.

Debra Jacobs

 

Washington, D.C.

still protesting

Here is a picture from the March in Washington to add to the file from a Canadian “sister.” I was there 44 years ago to march for Roe v. Wade and this picture I’m holding says it all.

Nancy Rosenfeld

***

Well, I’m independent, Jewish, and frankly feminist. In fact, I’m Frankly feminist. My name is Frank. I’m not a woman. But women are frankly, the most important part of my life. 

I’m 70. I’m going to the march on Saturday. I have to go. It’s a small thing, but I must do what I can. 

I am marching for my daughter in New York, for my mother who died 42 years ago, for the Jewish relatives of mine who did not survive the Holocaust. But I am also marching for my sons, for my father, and for men who believe what I believe. I am also marching for the students, mostly African-American kids, whom I taught in the public schools for many years. I am marching for the women and their families who are trying to flee Syria and other places and want to come to America where things are better. We must keep them getting better. We can not take a backward step.

Frank Burd

*** 

At 8:00 this morning when a good friend and I met up with a woman I worked with this summer to register voters in Northern Virginia and a close friend of hers, we were two pairs of friends. Six hours later, when we hugged goodbye at the same Metro station where our day had begun, we were March Friends who stuck together through the chill, the confusion, the crowds, and the certainty that this was an historic moment we were proud to be part of. 

We were a team that took care of each other, balancing each of our needs so that we each had the march we needed. It wasn’t just being nice, it was true womanly solidarity, and it came from how we helped each other, and how everyone around us supported each other too. There were hands to help us climb over barricades when we couldn’t enter into the mass of people along Independence Avenue, and there were shared cheers that helped momentarily expel the gnawing shame and pain of the new president.

Laura Goodman

***

My parents came to America because they said it was the safest country in the world, and after surviving the Holocaust, they needed safety.

What would they say about this America?

On Saturday, I marched in Washington D.C. with my daughters, my daughter-in-law, my granddaughters. I wore my mother’s wedding ring and the shawl of my grandmother who was murdered in the Holocaust.

We will do everything we can to keep this country, this America safe.

Paulette Fire

***

A completely exhilarating day!

On the second-to-last day of co-leading an annual three-week silent Jewish meditation retreat at Am Kolel Sanctuary an hour outside D.C., we took 10 people to the Women’s March. We thought it would be incredibly jarring to go from weeks of silent meditation into teeming yelling crowds. We worried about possibly violent counter-protests. But instead it felt like coming home to a future world of caring for all, getting a chance to live for a day with over a half million people the diversity, love, dignity, hilarity, outrage, and kindness we experienced on retreat and are working to build for all beings.

What an honor!

My two sons, Ari and Noah, marched in Washington; my daughter, Aliza, marched in Boston (reporting that she never experienced anything so powerful in her lifetime of 30 years), and my daughter-in-law, Sara, and 16-month-old granddaughter, Orli, marched in their neighborhood children’s march a mile north of the Capitol. Three generations (just corrected typo “genderations”)!

So many young people on the street was a powerful vision that each of us is part of a stream of generations that will never stop organizing until all people can live in safety, freedom, compassion, and peace.

Sheila Katz


The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Lilith Magazine. 

 

 

The Women’s Marches: An Online-Only Supplement

The articles in this special section:
la marcg

Jewish Feminists Report Back from 18 Marches

Perspectives on the Women's Marches from around the world. 

“Bring Your Teaspoon”

Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso

A rousing speech delivered by Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso in Indianapolis, Indiana.