November 17, 2016 by Rochelle Newman
Dear Melania Trump:
Here at World Is Watching High, the U.S. campus had an election. One candidate, who happened to be a girl, won the popularity contest. She didn’t want to be popular. She wanted to be President.
Strange how that worked out, since the school’s newspapers made sure everyone understood how very unpopular she was. She wasn’t a perfect candidate by any stretch of the imagination, but your boy’s henchmen and henchwomen showed no mercy. She was subjected to hacked emails, association with sexting and other forms of bullying, cyber and otherwise. She might have won if your boy didn’t buddy up with Russia. Who knows? We can’t turn back the clock.
Using the system we had in place, your boy won. Since all he cared about was winning, he used whatever tactics he could get away with no matter whom they hurt and how much damage they did.
November 16, 2016 by Liya Rechtman
The first time a Jew bought land in the Biblical Land of Israel was for a burial plot of a woman, the matriarch Sarah. This story is recounted in Parshat Chayei Sarah, which is the Torah portion read this year in mid-November that can be translated literally as “the life of Sarah.” But Parshat Chayei Sarah isn’t about Sarah’s life, it’s about her death. It is Sarah’s death that allows the Jewish people to stake a claim in their land.
We see Abraham mourn Sarah’s passing, but his mourning is strategic. He asks the “people of the land, the Hittites” (Genesis 23:7) if he can buy a burial cave for her on the corner of their property. The Hittites initially offer him the land for free, but Abraham insists on buying it legally. In his moment of grief, and on behalf of the death of Sarah, he takes the opportunity to begin conquering the land of Canaan for Israel. Sarah, the nominal focus of this portion does not speak. Sarah has no stated wishes about where she is buried. Because she is dead, she has no say in the transactions done in her name.
November 15, 2016 by Liat Melnick and Annie Kaufman
Every dawn at the Oceti Sakowin (Och-et-ee Shak-oh-win) Camp in Standing Rock, North Dakota, we were awakened by a elder crying out over a loudspeaker, from the Sacred Fire, “Water Protectors wake up! We are here for a reason! We are here to cut the Black Snake’s head off! Do what you came here to do!… Take courage in your heart!” We were called to morning prayer, to the front lines and to prepare food for the community. These were the clearest shofar calls we have ever heard. We heard Native elders calling us from their traditions and experiences, “Wake up! There are injustices here and we are asking for the Creator to guide us in preserving the water and earth for ourselves and for future generations and you are here to support us.”
November 10, 2016 by Susan Weidman Schneider
On Monday, lots of you pledged to advocate for a feminist agenda on November 9 and beyond. Some also wrote us to reveal why they were signing on. “Because Jewish tradition tells us that we must ensure we are counted and accountable.” “Our voices must be loud and clear.” And “the struggle is not over.”
After the U.S. presidential election on November 8, women urgently posted, emailed and phoned their friends with some variant on this anxiety: “I’m afraid women will lose the right to decide what happens to our own bodies.” And afraid that some people they know and love will be sent away, deported. Afraid as Jews, because anti-Semitism unleashed during the election season echoes what we’ve seen before.
November 8, 2016 by Paula Caplan
I grew up as a member of about 40 Jewish families in Springfield, Missouri, a Midwestern city of about 80, 000 people. My great-grandfather, Ben Karchmer, was a founder of the congregation there, and I have always been proud of my Jewish heritage. And I have been a feminist since the time, more than 45 years ago when I first learned about feminism. I was trained as a psychologist, and spoke at an early, germinal 1992 conference on Judaism, Feminism and Psychology in Seattle.
When I started writing plays more than twenty years ago, I soon realized that my religion and my feminism would inform that writing.
November 8, 2016 by Rebecca Keren
Today I voted for a woman
I voted for my grandmother
Who worked in a chocolate factory
And taught me how to paint
I voted for my great grandmother
Who labored in a sweat shop
I voted for Eve
Who was punished with pain for
I voted for Rebecca
Who had a mind of her own
I voted for Leah
Who was never well-liked
But is the mother of a nation
I voted for Miriam
Who opened her mouth at times
She shouldn’t have
I voted for Deborah and Yael
Who fought our wars
I voted for Batsheva
Whose beauty was exploited
I voted for Anne Frank
Who was murdered
I voted for myself
Because I have a sense of where I am
And where I am going
I voted for tomorrow
I voted for my mothers
So one day I could tell my daughters
That I voted.
November 7, 2016 by Anise Simon
7:6 Mishna, Ohalot – ו
האשה שהיא מקשה לילד מחתכין את הולד במעיה ומוציאין אותו אברים אברים מפני שחייה קודמין לחייו יצא רובו אין נוגעין בו שאין דוחין נפש מפני נפש
If a woman is dying from childbirth, we cut out the child from inside her – because her life comes before the child’s life. But once the majority of the baby is out, we don’t touch it, because we don’t push aside one life for the sake of another
I come from a long line of radical Jews who embodied Tikkun Olam through reproductive justice.
My grandfather Nachum “Nathan” Subotnik, whom I called ‘Papa Doc’, was a doctor who specialty was Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB-GYN). He was also the first person in his family to attend college. When he told his immigrant parents about his plans to attend medical school, they didn’t understand how that could be possible. They were resourceful subsistence farmers from Turkey and Lithuania with fifth-grade educations, and there were quotas that limited the number of Jewish students at universities in the 1930s. But my grandfather was not easily dissuaded. Nathan Subotnik was accepted into medical school in Scotland and later moved back to the United States to practice.
November 7, 2016 by Liya Rechtman
At the beginning of the Jewish year, we read once again of our obligation to “till and tend” the earth (Genesis 2:15). In the first few lines of our sacred text, we read of the responsibility of humankind to care for and rule over the whole of creation. Our text is rooted in references to our deep Jewish agricultural and ethical obligations. So, clearly, climate change is a Jewish issue. The fight against rising sea levels and increased global temperatures is our fight. The work to maintain crop biodiversity and safeguard all lives from water and air pollution, especially lives in danger in low-income communities, is our work.
And climate change is specifically a Jewish feminist issue.
November 3, 2016 by Yona Zeldis McDonough
Back in the 1970’s, I was part of a tribe, one of the many, pale slender ballet girls that walked the avenues—Seventh, Eighth, Broadway—where so many of New York City’s dance studios were then located. With our hair scraped back into punishing buns, and our oversized bags in which we lugged our paraphernalia, we were instantly recognizable, especially to each other, and we displayed a devotion to our art that was almost religious in its single-mindedness and its fervor. Class six days a week, sometimes twice daily in the summer; student rush tickets for performances at Lincoln Center and City Center in the evenings; high school, with its geometry exams, field hockey games and debate teams a mere blur—this was how I spent my formative years. And then, in a blink, it was over—but that is another story. Suffice it to say that although my life veered off in a different direction, my love for the beautiful rigors and rigorous beauties of that early training remained unchanged. My first novel, The Four Temperaments, was set in the ballet world I’d left behind, and even though it was written three decades later, the book became a waiting vessel into which I could pour all the passion of my past.
So when I chanced upon the New York Times obituary of the ballerina Yvette Chauviré, who died in her home in Paris at the age of 99, I read it with more than a passing interest. The obit mentioned another dancer of the period—Solange Schwarz. Solange was clearly French. But Schwarz? Could have been German. Or Jewish. Intrigued, I dug up a little more.
October 31, 2016 by Hara Person
This summer in New York City, more than 100 gathered in the prayer space of Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion to hear testimony on the how women’s roles in the rabbinate have evolved over the past 40 years. The room’s stained glass panels echoed the stained glass ceiling women rabbis have pushed against. Three panelists—from different generations, with unique experiences and diverse paths to the pulpit—explained how far the Reform Movement has come since Sally Priesand was ordained in 1972. Rabbi Priesand, Rabbi Rebecca Einstein Schorr and Rabbi Leah Berkowitz also noted how far the Jewish community still has to go for women rabbis to achieve full equality and normativity. The situations that Rabbis Priesand, Schorr, and Berkowitz described can serve as a guiding light for many other previously silenced populations, including transgender and gender-queer rabbis.
Rabbi Priesand revealed that becoming the first woman rabbi was never her intention. She simply wanted to be a rabbi. But since there were no women before her, she concluded she would have to be the first.