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Happening

Going. Doing. Indispensable resources.

Praying loudly

Women of the Wall have been battling since 1989 with the ultra-Orthodox establishment in Israel over their right to wear prayer shawls and read aloud from the Torah at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Filmmaker Yael Katzir sees the battle as a test case on the second-class status of women in Israeli public life, the pressures of religious coercion and the hunger for equality. “Praying in Her Own Voice” (2007) is a passionate 60-minute documentary shown at the 23rd annual Israel Film Festival in New York, Los Angeles and Miami. israelfilmfestival.com

Jewish tradition, change & gender in a global context

In Sofia, Bulgaria, talk about all this at the Fifth Bet Debora Conference of European Women Rabbis, Jewish Community Politicians, Activists and Scholars, June 25 – 28, 2009. What unique viewpoints do Jewish women bring to the integration of immigrants, creation of multi-cultural societies, Jewish-Islamic dialogue and immigration policies? How does migration affect gender in Jewish communities? How does gender affect how Jews communicate with wider non-Jewish societies? What sanctifies Jewish homes now, and what will sanctify them in the future? Send abstracts (max. 250 words) for proposed papers by February 10, 2009 to Tania Reytan-Marincheshka. treytan26@yahoo.com.

Make change

Find out about public policy issues and initiatives and get involved yourself via a new website from the National Council of Jewish Women, an organization that has supported progressive social change for more than a century. You’ll find polls, places to comment on articles, and opportunities to report on local advocacy efforts. action.ncjw.org/ncjw/home.html

The Saturday-night schvitz

Jan Booker explores the “secret sacred world of women” she discovered when as a young girl she accompanied her grandmother to the public baths in southern Philadelphia, the equivalent for workingclass Jewish women of a night out at dinner and the theater, or a modern-day spa. Read this and other stories, as well as submit your own stories on a new website, The Jewish Writing Project, where Jews from assorted backgrounds and all ages tell about what being Jewish means to them. jewishwritingproject.wordpress.com

A rainbow tallit, a Ruth-and-Naomi blessing

A lesbian ketubah, lambda hamsa necklace, rainbow mezuzot, and more are available from the only Israeli Judaica supplier that offers a collection of LGBT-appropriate items. (LGBT: lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.) Representing 16 Israeli Judaica artists and jewelers, this new enterprise at Hanaton in the Galilee supplies gift stores at synagogues, JCCs, Hillels, and Federations as well as private Judaica shops. Galilee Judaica, galileejudaica.com

Avoiding rocket fire

Shlomit Ekstein leads Afikim baNegev, a group of 150 people who moved to Sderot, in order to strengthen this Israeli town of 24,000 which has been the target of Kassam rockets for the past eight years. And then there’s Sharon Yosef, who directs social services in the small town of Shomi, on the Mediterranean border near Lebanon, a town being revived after years of terror incidents, unemployment and crime. These women are featured in the final report of the Ziv Tzedakah Fund which Danny Siegel is closing down after 27 years. His fund has specialized in supporting grass-roots “mitzvah heroes,” many of them women. Siegel has taught about tzedakah to thousands in various settings and the fund has been a conduit for millions of dollars, supporting individuals doing good deeds and repairing the world. Read about amazing people and their projects at ziv.org and learn about a new fund set up by some of Siegel’s students at mitzvahheroesfund.org

Our tribe

Barbie dioramas, slam poetry archival footage, graphics and animation weave together in this “appetizer for discussion” film by Tiffany Shlain. She takes off from the history of the world’s most popular doll and asks what it means to be an American Jew today. And what does it mean to be a member of any tribe in the 21st century? “The Tribe” now comes with the Unorthodox Discussion Kit, a curriculum guide that explores issues that would be relevant in a college classroom or with audiences of unaffiliated Jews. tribethefilm.com

Politics with art

Painter Susanne Schueller, known as Soshana, was born in Vienna in 1927 and had her first major exhibition in Cuba in 1948. From her early expressionistic portraits and still lifes to an abstract style, her work reflects the political circumstance of the post WWII-era. Her career has spanned the globe: Switzerland, England and New York. Later paintings draw on her travels to Israel, Asia, Africa and South America. Both Picasso and Giacometti painted her portrait; she did too (see above). Through February 15 at Yeshiva University Museum in New York, yumuseum.org

The evaded curriculum

Are you an educator concerned that one of your students has an eating disorder? Or a youth-group leader who senses that your chapter president is struggling with her sexual identity? A program at the Davidson School of Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary, directed by Shira Epstein, offers an online resource guide that addresses social and emotional topics for those who works with Jewish preteens, teens, or young women to help them create safer and more positive environments. jtsa.edu/evadedissues

Women’s blood in Jewish tradition

An anthology aims at expanding sacred Jewish understandings of women’s blood and menstrual and post-partum bleeding experiences. Editor Holly Shere invites submissions of scholarly articles, creative non-fiction, blueprints for new rituals, poetry, midrash and visual art by February 15, 2009. onewithaflow.org

Jewish girl power

Five 14-year-old girls in Toronto talk candidly with academic, activist and writer Nora Gold about what it’s like to grow up Jewish and female in the beginning of the twenty-first century. In 2003, Gold was awarded a four-year research grant from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada to do a longitudinal study of Canadian Jewish girls’ experiences of antisemitism and sexism. This film is one result. Noragold.com

How to study Torah

Since the 2007 publication of The Torah: A Women’s Commentary, editors Tamara Eskanazi and Rabbis Andrea Weiss and Hara Person are developing a study program for Women of Reform Judaism to accompany various weekly Torah readings. You can download their free study guides at womenofreformjudaism.org/wrjtorahstudyguideprogram

Cultivating female talent

A report by Didi Goldenhar and Sivanie Shiran focuses on the experiences and career goals of 130 women at 47 Jewish federations. What do these researchers now recommend? Sequenced career planning, system-wide mentoring, and policies for workplace flexibility that would allow professionals — men as well as women — to be leaders even while leading fulfilling personal lives. Read the report, “Cultivating the Talent: Women Professionals in the Federation System” and participate in a Flexibility Campaign to encourage Jewish organization to improve their policies around parental leave and workplace flexibility. Go to Advancing Women Professionals and the Jewish Community, advancingwomen.org