GROUPS AND PROJECTS
A new Jewish feminist consciousness-raising and study group, comprised of women spanning the Jewish religious/ political spectrum, has been organized in Houston. The group meets on a regular basis to exchange ideas on issues of concern to Jewish women and share in the creation of new rituals. (One member wrote a ceremony celebrating the onset of menstruation for Jewish girls.) Information on the group may be obtained from:
Sondra Kaplan 1717 Wroxton Ct. #1 Houston TX 77005
Two special Israel-based funds have been established recently to serve as conduits for contributions to Israeli feminist projects. The Women’s Aid Fund, chaired by Marcia Freedman, former MK, was responsible for establishing Israel’s first battered women’s shelter, several women’s centers, a rape crisis center, a legal aid bureau and one of the feminist presses. The second fund, known as Feminist Projects in Israel, was recently created by Dr. Shoshana Kleba nov, a professor at Hebrew University, and has undertaken as its first project the funding of a feminist documentary film on women in the Israeli army, to be made by Shulamit Eshel. Both funds are presently soliciting contributions in the United States, to be used for the establishment of two more shelters, a printing press and a quarterly newspaper. Funds may be sent directly to:
The Women’s Aid Fund 99 Hanassi Avenue Haifa, Israel Feminist Projects in Israel POB 33711 Tel Aviv, Israel
There are also two U.S.-based groups which have been actively raising funds for a variety of feminist causes and projects in Israel. One, U.S.-Israel Women-to-Women, has as its credo “Women must help women.” Mentioned in these pages when it was still in its formative stages (LILITH #6), Women-to-Women has raised funds from what it has termed “women of independent means” and has already funded several of the projects sponsored both by The Women’s Aid Fund and by Israel Feminist Projects, and is currently underwriting the publication of a booklet on divorce problems faced by women in Israel. To make a tax-deductible contribution or for further information about a nationwide network of Women-to-Women supporters now being formed, write:
U.S.-lsrael Women-to-Women 4 Sniffen Court 156 East 36 St. New York NY 10016
The New Israel Fund, set up several months ago to provide support for a wide range of social-change causes in Israel, including environmental issues, community organizing, Arab-Jewish relations and women’s rights, has a brochure detailing goals and projects funded so far.
New Israel Fund 22 Miller Ave. Mill Valley CA 94941 (415) 383-4866
A unique membership library, containing more than 300 volumes dealing with Jewish women and appropriately called “Eemee’Beetee” (my mother, my daughter, in Hebrew) was founded in October, 1979 by wife-and-husband team Sher Rice and Jeffrey Rosenberg. Located in the couple’s apartment in Exton, Pennsylvania, the library’s collection includes books in the history, religion, biography, travel and reference categories, in addition to a children’s books and periodicals sections. Membership in the Eemee’ Beetee Library, which is affiliated with the Association of Jewish Libraries and the International Society of Jewish Librarians, is open to Jewish feminists (men and women) in Chester County, Pennsylvania and other areas, by special arrangement (all prospective members must file applications). For more information, write:
Sher Rice The Eemee* Beetee Library of the Jewish Woman and Girl 190 Apple Drive Exton PA 19341 (215) 363-8644
A nationwide effort tp rescue old Yiddish books has begun in Amherst, Massachusetts. The National Yiddish Book Exchange, a non-profit organization founded by young graduate students of Yiddish literature and administered by faculty members of Amherst, Hampshire, Mt. Holyoke and Smith Colleges and the University of Massachusetts, plans to collect discarded Yiddish books from homes and synagogues throughout North America. Books will be brought to a central repository where they will be restored, catalogued and shelved, and then made available for sale to teachers, students and university libraries. Donations of Yiddish books and periodicals, and financial support, are urgently needed. Please contact:
Aaron Lansky National Yiddish Book Exchange P.O. Box 969 Amherst MA 01004
A new slide show by Penina Williams entitled, “The Goddess and the Witch,” traces the history of the artistic depiction of women as goddesses and witches from pre-historic times through the 17th century, the height of witchcraft persecution in Europe. Specifically, it deals with the unique connection between women, Jews and witchcraft persecution. Ms. Williams lectures on the subject, using the slide show as illustration. Fee is negotiable, depending upon traveling time and expenses. Interested individuals should contact:
Penina Williams 4710 Springfield Avenue Philadelphia PA 19143
“Find the right guy, live a happy life and stay away from the shrink,” Joe Cohen advises his daughter. Views such as this one touch the essence of “Joe and Maxi,” a documentary movie which traces a young Jewish woman’s attempts to carve out her own identity amidst various family pressures.
Maxi Cohen is the main figure in, and co-producer (with Joel Gold) of this film, which explores her relationship with her father Joe, a remote person whose life revolves around the ownership of a fishing and clamming dock. The film begins just eight months after the death of Maxi’s mother from cancer: during the filming, Joe learns that he, too, has cancer. The filming continues as Maxi’s whether to give up their life goals in order to help their father. By the film’s end, Maxi matures and comes to understand herself better.
“Joe and Maxi” is a tender account of isolation in family interactions, particularly in father/daughter relationships. Maxi struggles to assert her independence from a father who insists that marriage is essential for all “normal” women, that having babies is “a natural process” women must go through if they don’t want headaches, and that not to have children shows a lack of social responsibility.
The film points to the lack of communication in many present-day Jewish households in which parents, particularly fathers, cannot understand their daughters’ wishes to become complete people.
“JOE AND MAXI” 31 Greene St. New York NY 10013
The Jewish Folklore and Ethnology Newsletter is a very rich source of information for historical, sociological and anthropological materials dealing with Jewish women. Put out by the American Folklore Society and the Max Weinreich Center for Advanced Jewish Studies of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, the newsletter includes reports of relevant conferences and lectures, notices oh grant sources, and listings of libraries, archives, research institutes, publications and media projects.
All articles, communications and requests for subscriptions should be addressed to:
The Jewish Folklore and Ethnology Newsletter Max Weinreich Center for Advanced Jewish Studies YIVO 1048 Fifth Avenue New York NY 10028
The Woman’s Institute for Continuing Jewish Education in San Diego published last spring a new Women’s Haggadah written by a group of seven women affiliated with the Institute. The Haggadah explores the role played by women in the Exodus from Egypt and tells the stories of other Jewish women who “participated in the ongoing struggle for freedom” throughout history. It may be used independently, or in conjunction with a traditional Haggadah.
The price per copy is $3.50 plus 50 ¢ postage (please add 20$ postage for each additional copy), and mail check to:
Woman’s Institute for Continuing Jewish Education 4079 54th Street San Diego CA 92105
Sample copies of The Paper Pomegranate, the bulletin of the Pomegranate Guild of Judaic Needlework (see TR, LILITH #6) are now $4.00, due to its expanded size. The bulletin is available from:
The Pomegranate Guild of Judaic Needlework One Fanshaw Avenue Yonkers NY 70705
Two recent publications of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, Union of American Hebrew Congregations, outline programs on women’s concerns for use in Reform synagogues.
The Equal Rights Amendment Program Packet was prepared to help congregants explore the issues and launch appropriate action projects.
Jewish Options for the 80’s is a 56-page “consciousness-raising kit” designed to “encourage congregants to examine beliefs and attitudes that perpetuate discrimination and stereotypes about women so that we can remove remaining barriers to the full participation of women in the Jewish community and the community at large.” Among the topics covered are Bat Mitzvah, mother-daughter relations, ERA, abortion and women rabbis. The booklet also features a 20-item checklist for rating congregations on their sexist and non-sexist practices. The cost is $3 per copy. Both publications available from:
Commission on Social Action Union of American Hebrew Congregations 838 Fifth Avenue New York NY 10021 Att: Annette Daum, Religious Action Consultant
Mainstream, a “periodic newsletter on women’s concerns,” was launched last May by the American Jewish Committee to report its national and local work in this area.
Other recent AJC publications relating to women include a booklet, Single Parent Families, put out by the organization’s newly created National Jewish Family Center; a study entitled The Status of Women In Jewish Organizations of Greater Pittsburgh, issued by its Pittsburgh chapter and the National Council of Jewish Women; and a kit of materials on women in the Middle East. These publications are available from:
The American Jewish Committee 165 East 56th St. New York NY 10022
CALLS FOR WRITERS
The Jewish Women’s Resource Center is sponsoring two projects—an academic competition and an anthology of short readings—aimed at promoting original written work by and about Jewish women. The topic of the academic competition is “The Jewish Woman in History.” Papers should not exceed 10,000 words, and must be submitted by December 31, 1980. Judges will include Blu Greenberg, author of a forthcoming book on the Jewish woman, and Dr. Paula Hyman, Assistant Professor of Jewish History at Columbia University. The anthology will be composed of original poems, and other short pieces (1-2 pages). Entries should be submitted immediately to:
The Jewish Women’s Resource Center 92nd Street YM/YWHA Library 1395 Lexington Avenue New York NY 10028
Biblio Press, a publisher of “alternative Jewish” materials, is seeking writers of current well-researched work on the following subjects: Women’s Voting Trends (with material on Jewish women); Contemporary Jewish Women and Sex; Jewish Women In Business (historical survey); Science Fiction based on the Bible; Collecting Jewish Antiques (a guide); Jewish Feminist Socialists in the United States, Past and Present; and Folklore (“grandmothers’ tales”). Manuscripts may be pamphlet-length (50 pages min.) or book-length (125 pages and up). Interested individuals should send outlines and writing samples to:
Biblio Press P.O. Box 22 Fresh Meadows NY 11365
The editorial committee of the Sarah Eisenstein Series, composed of books relating to “women, consciousness and revolutionary change,” is planning a book of collected pieces on The Politics of Sexuality, to be edited by Ann Snitow, Christine Stansell and Sharon Thompson. Topics include historical overviews of sexuality as a changing social form, the social definition of sexuality, the image of sexuality portrayed by popular culture,’the media and the arts and current political struggles revolving around sexual issues.
The committee is interested in original pieces and reprints of varying lengths, in the form of notes, analytical articles, stories, poems, journal excerpts, illustrations, picture essays or short historical documents. Small honorarium. Deadline for final manuscripts is January 1 1981. Send 3 copies of outlines, reprints of work to:
The Sarah Eisenstein Series do Sharon Thompson P.O.B. 1161, Stuyvesant Station New York NY 10009
Karen Payne is editing a collection of letters between mothers and daughters. Her book (to be published in 1981) explores issues raised by the women’s liberation movement within the context of the mother-daughter relationship. The letters express their writers’ feelings about sexuality, intimate relationships, marriage, children, abortion and politics. Send the letters, with pertinent biographical information to:
Karen Payne 12 Quernmore Road London N4, England
Ernestine Rose, Emma Goldman, Emma Lazarus and Gertrude Stein are four Jewish women featured in a unique series of biographical card games celebrating the lives and achievements of great American women who made history.
Great Women is actually the name of the games. There are three games in the series. Each deck has cards with photos of and facts about 10 women and is played like gin rummy. The names are: Fore-mothers, Founders and Firsts, and Poets and Writers.
The games can be ordered at $6 per deck or $16 for a set of all three, from:
The Great Women Card Company 310 East 46 St. Box 1L New York, NY 1001
Artist Michele Zackheim’s unique collage of handcolored xeroxed family photographs and drawings depicting historical personalities and events is currently on exhibit at the Judah Magnes Museum in Berkeley, California. Entitled “A Diary: The Rites of Passage of a Jewish Woman In America,” the collage is Zackheim’s creative saga of the people, places and emotions so intricately woven together to form her life. The 15-piece exhibit is enhanced by Zackheim’s poetry, which describes what it was like to be a “nigger-lover” and a “dirty Jew” in white, small-town America. For more information on the show and the artist, contact:
Ann Ferrier Hill’s Gallery 110 W. San Francisco Santa Fe NM 87501
Hand-crafted ceramic ware and Jewish ceremonial objects are the specialties of Fern Amper, an artist who has exhibited her work extensively at shows throughout the Northeast. Among her most popular items are kiddush cups, mezuzot, seder plates, havdallah sets, cookie jars, Shabbat candle plates, clocks and fruit bowls. Each piece is individually created and decorated, reflecting “the Jewish tradition of making one’s ritual life beautiful.” Brochures and order forms may be obtained from:
Fern Amper 65-50 Wetherole Street Rego Park NY 11374
“The Jewish Woman: A Portrait in Her Own Words,” a dramatic reading for four or more voices by Marcia Cohn Spiegel, presents the history of Jewish women using poetry written by women dating from biblical times until the present day. The cost for single scripts is 75 ¢ and they can be obtained from:
The National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods 838 Fifth Avenue New York NY 10021
Ms. Spiegel also performs dramatic programs using women’s poetry to explore their family relationships, roles in Jewish history and religious convictions. Fee is negotiable, depending upon the group’s size and budget, but it must include travel expenses. Please write:
Marcia Spiegel 4856 Ferncreek Drive Rolling Hills Estates CA 90274 (213) 378-3703, or (213) 373-4018
Janet Leuchter sings traditional Yiddish folk songs in an authentic style, providing interesting and concise Commentaries on the background of each song performed. Her program offers a rare and fascinating view of Yiddish culture and Jewish history of the last two centuries. For further information, call: (212) 866-1312