Now at Risk: Historic Advances for Women
“Attacks on women’s health care and economic security have raised the stakes for women in the 2012 election,” says Nancy K. Kaufman, CEO of National Council of Jewish Women. A coalition of women’s organizations including NCJW, representing millions of women, has announced plans to mobilize voters. The list of the top ten historic advances for women now at risk can be found at msmagazine.com/HERvotes.
The Topsy Turvy Bus
Running on used vegetable oil and outfitted to serve as a Jewish environmental education space, the Topsy Turvy Bus is a project of the Teva Learning Alliance. Following tours across the country to California and across the Southeast, the bus — with its enthusiastic Teva staff — is accepting invitations to visit Jewish communities in the New York area this spring to show how individuals can be empowered to “flip environmental damage on its head.” tevalearningcenter.org
In Memory of E. M. Broner
Editor Nan Gefen and writer friends Marcia Freedman and Sue Leonard recall the magic-wand-waving, feminist-sederinspiring , Jewish feminist novelist (A Weave of Women) and memoirist (Mornings and Mourning) Esther Broner, who died at age 83 in June 2011. You can read their tributes in the Fall 2011 issue of Persimmon Tree, the online magazine that showcases the creativity and talent of women over 60. persimmontree.org.
In about 40 locations across the U.S. and the world, an unusual program supports post-college individuals, leaders in their 20s, who want to create vibrant homebased Jewish communities. They host Shabbat dinners and a variety of their programs in their communal homes. Find out about starting a Moishe House in your area, and see a video created to teach Shabbat blessings at moishehouse.org.
Social Justice Protests in Israel
The Middle East spring bloomed in Israel in June 2011 with a hugely successful Facebookfacilitated boycott of cottage cheese. Then came a social worker strike and a physician strike. When Daphni Leef decided to move into a tent on Rothchild Boulevard in Tel Aviv, she triggered the building of a huge tent city and ongoing protests that included 460,000 people in a single demonstration. Inbal Halperin says this is a movement for human rights and dignity, not a demand to return to the socialist era of Israel’s past. Says Maya Rimer, another organizer, “This is the revolution of our generation, and though some people might call it naiveté, there is a joy we haven’t had before, a feeling of hope for our future.” Follow along at any of these sites: j14.org.il, facebook.com/ JlmTent or facebook.com/J14.Israel. A government website asking for change organizations and individuals to work together on cooperative projects is shituf.gov.il.
A Simple Blood Test to Prevent Family Tragedy
Individuals of every ethnic group are potential carriers of genetic diseases, yet since their own health is not affected, they have no way of knowing this. Ashkenazi Jews have a significantly higher risk for certain diseases, primarily because members of small isolated Jewish communities in Europe tended to marry each other, enabling gene mutations to become more prevalent in future generations. These diseases, from the more familiar Tay-Sachs to the lesser-known Walker-Warburg Syndrome or Nemaline Myopathy, have no cures and only limited treatment options. Anyone with one Jewish grandparent should be screened. Lois Victor, who lost two children to Familial Dysautonomia, has founded a center that offers resources for screening Jewish genetic diseases. victorcenters.org, 877-401-1093. Also visit jewishgeneticanswers.org.
Holocaust Survivors and Their Progeny
An e-mail network for Holocaust survivors and their children (2Gs, or “second generation”) and grandchildren (3Gs), also includes educators, historians, genealogists, authors, documentarians, filmmakers, staff from Holocaust museums and universities, students from elementary school to graduate school, and other interested individuals. It is a resource for information about the Holocaust and for connecting a worldwide community. Serena Woolrich (née Wolvovits), daughter of a Holocaust survivor father from Transylvania, founded Allgenerations in 1998 to increase tolerance and understanding. Allgenerations.org
Endangered Species Condoms
The welfare of human beings is linked to the existence of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants in our world, says The Biodiversity Center, which works to secure a future for all species hovering on the brink of extinction. They do this through science, law and what they call “creative media,” to protect the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive. To spark a debate about how overpopulation crowds out species and hastens climate change, they’re giving away condoms in colorful packages depicting endangered animals. Check them out at endangeredspeciescondoms.com.
Opening the Way
A women’s history walk highlighting Lower Manhattan’s rich history of women writers, abolitionists, suffragists and activists as well as three heroes who gave their lives on September 11, 2001, was created by Women’s eNews in partnership with Girl Scouts of America. In honor of its 100th anniversary, Girl Scouts can earn an Opening the Way patch by taking the tour on foot, or by interacting with the online elements of the tour which include videos of modern day leaders highlighting the work of women such as Nellie Bly and Sojourner Truth. You don’t have to be a Scout to enjoy. womensenews.org/opening-the-way and girlscoutsnyc.org.
“Jewish Life in the Bay Area from the Gold Rush to the Present” features a documentary of contemporary stories of Jewish migration to the Bay Area by filmmaker Pam Rorke Levy, as well as a series of photographs by local artist and cultural historian Rachel Schreiber. Learn about 160 years of religious reinvention including the first Jewish woman to speak formally from a pulpit, in 1890, Rachel “Ray” Frank, known as The Girl Rabbi of the Golden West. Visitors are invited to add their stories and submit photographs to an ever-evolving community photo wall that can be browsed online or in the gallery. Through October 16, 2012 at San Francisco’s Contemporary Jewish Museum, thecjm.org.
“Let My People Go!”
This exhibit documenting the Soviet Jewry movement, 1967– 1989, illuminates an important chapter in modern Jewish history, the story of Jews in the former Soviet Union who wanted to emigrate but were denied the right to leave. Learn about their efforts to maintain Jewish identity and community life, their struggles with Soviet authorities, and the worldwide support the movement generated. This Beit Hatfutsot exhibition, sponsored by Israel’s Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, is on display through March 2012 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. mjhnyc.org/v_map.html