2010: Lilith’s Year in Review

Every December, I look forward to JibJab’s latest animated year in review, which inspired me to do my own year in review. Here’s a look back on some of the biggest Jewish and Feminist news stories of 2010…

On August 5th, Elena Kagan was confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court, making her the second Jewish woman to be appointed as a Supreme Court Justice (the first being Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg). Now that SCOTUS is one-third female, there’s an opportunity for significant gender progress. In Lilith’s Fall 2010 issue, Ginsburg expressed that she has no plans to retire any time soon. Looks like good news for feminists!

2010 became an even more exciting year for Jewish women, when Sara Hurwitz adopted the title of the first Orthodox “Rabba,” Hebrew feminine for “rabbi,” coined by Rabbi Avi Weiss. Though Weiss faced a backlash from the Rabbinic Council of America, the mainstream Orthodox rabbinic organization, Hurwitz continues to proudly use the title. In December, for the first time ever, the first female Rabbis of each of the major sects of Judaism gathered together to celebrate Hanukkah.

However, not everything was as positive in 2010… There was somewhat surprising news for the Jewish community following results of a new study conducted by Berman Jewish Policy Archive. The study revealed a significant pay gap among Jewish communal professionals and found that while women make up 2/3 of Jewish communal professionals, they earn an average of $28,000 less than men. When the study controlled for “age, years in the field, level of responsibility, hours worked, and degrees earned, women’s salaries still trail men’s by about $20,000.”

This year was filled with a lot of feminist-interest bills that went through US Congress. Though not all were passed, the biggest success was the long awaiting repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Other bills were not so successful, including the Paycheck Fairness Act, which lost by two votes in the Senate, as well as the the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act, which lost in the House (despite its unanimous support in the Senate). Other bills were postponed and not able to be voted on before the 111th Congress wrapped up. Those bills included the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA), the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2010, and the ratification of CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women).

There was also a huge spike in activism to combat gay bullying following the tragic suicide of Rutgers University freshman, Tyler Clementi. Celebrities, activists, politicians, and even Gay Orthodox Jews came together in support of the It Gets Better Project by offering words of wisdom in videos that surfaced all over the web. Jewish teens from four major International Jewish Youth Movements also joined the fight with their creation of the Jewish Community Pledge to Save Lives, which has already received over 10,000 signatures.

Some of this year’s landmark women’s art exhibitions were highlighted in the pages of Lilith Magazine… In September, The Jewish Museum unveiled Shifting the Gaze: Painting and Feminism, its first exhibit to focus on the influence of feminism on visual art. Lilith’s Fall 2010 issue featured a behind-the scenes look at the exhibit from David Belasco, the museum’s Associate Curator. In the article, Belasco describes the significance of the 33 pieces that he chose to display, and goes so far to declare that, “It was feminism that breathed life back into painting when it was declared dead in the 1970s.” Also, a remarkable show of “Provocative Textiles” at the Hebrew Union College gallery in New York City brought together many of the fiber artists you may have seen first in Lilith.

2010 marked the 50th anniversary of the Pill. Lilith got an early start on honoring the momentous occasion in our Spring 2009 issue with a feature on the astounding number of female Jewish doctors who pioneered the 20th century’s birth control movement. On the other side of the family planning debate, we learned about a new Jewish anti-choice organization, known as In Shifra’s Arms, that masks itself as a crisis pregnancy center. Lilith Editor-in-Chief, Susan Weidman Schneider, took to the blog to discuss the dangers of the organization’s manipulative anti-choice tactics.

This year, we enjoyed hearing all the great feedback from our readers! In fact, our Spring 2010 article “How Twenty-Somethings Mate Now,” by Susan Schnur received so many great comments that we couldn’t help but feature them on our blog!  We invite you to share your feedback on Lilith’s first annual Year in Review. Tell us in the comments section what you’d add if you were compiling this list.