Resources for Jewish Women


DRISHA, a new institute for Jewish studies designed “to meet the intellectual needs of the committed Jewish woman of today,” has opened on Manhattan’s West Side. The institute’s program, which features the study and analysis of traditional Jewish texts, such as the Bible, Mishnah, Talmud and Codes of Jewish Law, is open to both full-time and part-time students. Tuition for full-time students is $750.00 per term; part-time tuition will be pro-rated. Scholarships are available for all needy applicants. For applications and information:

Rabbi David Silver
P.O. Box 858, Ansonia Station
New York, New York 10023


The English translation of Hannah Senesh’s famous poem, “Blessed Is The Match,” has been set to music by Joanne Forman, a musician working with the Performing Arts Press of Taos, New Mexico.

Hannah Senesh was one of the great Jewish heroines of the twentieth century. Born in Hungary in 1921, she left her childhood home for Palestine when she was still in her teens. During the dark days of the Holocaust, she volunteered for the dangerous task of re-entering Nazi-occupied Europe in order to smuggle Jews out to Palestine. On March 13, 1944 she parachuted into Yugoslavia and, upon crossing the border to Hungary, was. captured by the Nazis, subjected to a mock trial, and ultimately executed.

From the age of thirteen, Senesh kept a journal and wrote poetry, a practice which she continued even in her death cell. “Blessed Is The Match” was written in Sardice, Yugoslavia on May 2, 1944.

Forman’s rendition of the lovely poem is available, for $1.50 a copy, from:

Performing Arts Press
P.O. Box 3781
Taos, New Mexico 87571


Ilana Bar-Din’s forthcoming autobiographical documentary, entitled Sisters: A Jewish Family in Transition, examines the manner in which Judaism and feminism, traditional culture and changing roles, are integrated into the lives of four young women.

Ms. Bar-Din focuses upon her own family relationships, particularly the dilemmas and conflicts of sisters as they emerge as individuals within contemporary American society.

Although the 16mm, 30-minute color film is still in production, local and national public broadcasting networks have expressed interest in airing it. Sisters will soon be available to community, university, and religious groups.

Ilana Bar-Din
c/o Film Arts Foundation
490 Second St.
San Francisco CA 94107

Number Our Days is a film produced and directed by Lynne Littman and based on the anthropological fieldwork of Barbara Myerhoff, whose book of the same name was published by Dutton in November 1978. A portrait of elderly East European Jewish immigrants in Venice, California, the film won the Academy Award for the best documentary short subject. For distribution, contact:

Hack ford / Littman
6620 Cahuenga Terrace
Los Angeles CA 90068
(213) 467-6802

Anna Brown is a new film by Lisa Kaplan —a portrait of the filmmaker’s 81-year-old grandmother, including reminiscences about her arrival in the United States in 1913. For distribution, contact:

Lisa Kaplan
(212) 741-0494
(516) 764-9828

Marking the hundredth anniversary of the famous “Anna 0” insanity case described by Sigmund Freud, Dina Cukier and Ann Jacko-witz are producing a film based on Lucy Freeman’s book The Story of Anna 0. Pappenheim struggled to overcome a morphine addiction and earned an international reputation defending the rights of Jewish prostitutes.

Dina Cukier or Ann Jackowitz
Jina Productions
1170 Broadway
New York NY

In Her Hands: Women and Ritual is a videotape on sex roles and menstrual rituals among Syrian Jewish women, by Faye Ginsburg, Lily Kharrazi, Diane Winston. Contact:

Jewish Media Service
15 East 26th Street
New York, NY 10010

A forthcoming film by Frans Weisz, a Dutch filmmaker, tells the colorful and tragic story of Charlotte Salomon, a young Jewish artist who died in Auschwitz. Salomon’s works depict the rise of Nazism and the horrors of the Holocaust in both her native Germany and later in France. Because her paintings are autobiographical in nature, and have a moving emotional quality, Charlotte Salomon has come to be known as “the Anne Frank of Painting.”

For further information about either Salomon or the film, contact:

Frans Weisz
Jacob Obrechtstraat 43
Amsterdam, Nederlands
Joods Historisch Museum
Amsterdam, Nederlands


Several traditionally oriented women’s davening (prayer) groups in New York do not designate themselves “minyans” (the traditional prayer quorum of ten men), and omit sections of the service that cannot be recited without such a quorum.

Kol Nashim, formerly known as the West Side Women’s Shabbat Davening Group, holds a service twice a month. The exclusively female group is a political force in the community and maintains a dialogue with Orthodox rabbis. The group conducts training sessions in Torah reading, as well as special observances on Rosh Chodesh (the holiday on the first day of the new Jewish month) and holidays.

Beverly Worthman
808 West End Avenue 307
New York, New York 10025

The Washington Heights Women’s Davening Group holds a complete traditional service once a month. The group encourages observant women to participate, although it is open to all. Those interested should call:

Frieda Birnbaum
(212) 795-8867

Riverdale Women’s Tefillah also conducts a monthly service. The group is partially sponsored by an Orthodox synagogue and is subject to the rulings of Rabbi Avraham Weiss. For more information, call:

Miriam Schacter
(212) 549-8130


Harriet Herman, actress, drama teacher and author of feminist children’s books, appears in a one-woman performance entitled “Odyssey of a Jewish Woman: A Journey from the Old World and the New.”

The dramatization, written by Ms. Herman and based upon The Breadgivers, a novel by Anzia Yezierska, portrays a young immigrant Jewish woman’s struggle for independence from her tyrannical father, who remains rooted in traditional European values.

The performance is approximately one hour in length, and is appropriate for high school, college, women’s and synagogue groups. Fee is $100 per performance, in addition to travel expenses.

Harriet Herman
671 Colusa Ave.
Berkeley CA 94707

A new catalogue announces the availability of the following records and tapes of interest to Jewish women: Denise Levertov, Muriel Rukeyser and Gertrude Stein, each reading her own poetry; Dame Judith Anderson reading the Books of Judith and Ruth; Julie Harris reading from The Diary of Anne Frank; Lillian Hellman reading from her Pentimento; Bella Abzug reading her Speech to the National Press Club; other Great American Women’s Speeches, including one by Ernestine Rose; and Ruth Rubin singing Jewish folk songs. The catalogue is available free from:

Natalie Slohm Association, Inc.
The Women’s Audio Exchange
49 West Main St.
Cambridge NY 12816

In Print

A new book, exploring the Ju-discher Frauenbund (a major Jewish feminist organization founded in Germany in the early twentieth century) and the life of its founder, Bertha Pappenheim, has recently been published by the Greenwood Press.

Written by Marion A. Kaplan, the book, entitled The Jewish Feminist Movement in Germany: The Campaigns of the Judischer Frauenbund, 1904- 1938, discusses Pappenheim’s personal aspirations as well as the goals of the movement that she founded, which grew to include over 50,000 women.

Kaplan describes the Frauen-bund’s feminist ideology, as well as its three most effective campaigns: the struggle against white slavery; the demand for women’s rights within the corporate Jewish community; and the campaign to provide increased job opportunities for women.

In 1893, Rosa Sonnenschein, a prominent American Jewish woman, read a paper before the Press Congress at the Columbian Exposition held in Chicago, announcing that the time had come to establish a literary journal for women that would “connect with the cord of mutual interest the sisters dwelling throughout the length and breadth of the country.”

The story of Sonnenschein’s publication, The American Jewess, is told by Jack Nusan Porter in a recent article in American Jewish History (September 1978). As the first independent Jewish women’s journal in the United States, The American Jewess is LILITH’s illustrious, though short-lived, predecessor.

Considered by people of the time to be radical and even militant in its tone, The American Jewess addressed issues of concern to Jewish women, such as the unionization of women workers, protective labor legislation, the establishment of settlement houses for new immigrants and the women’s suffrage movement.

A restructured haggadah, which includes portrayals of several Jewish women important in the Exodus story, was recently produced by the Task Force on Equality of Women in Judaism, of the New York Federation of Reform Synagogues, a branch of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.

The purpose of the haggadah is to encourage family members to share equally in the Passover experience Women are urged to lead the Seder, while men are encouraged to clean the house and prepare the Passover meal. (For a listing of other recently compiled feminist haggadot, see “How Was This Passover Different From All Other Passovers?” LILITH No. 3-Spring/Summer ’77)

The Task Force, composed of Reform Jewish women, was established to assess the needs of women and to transform their demands for equality within Judaism into reality. In addition to the Haggadah, the Task Force has produced a glossary of non-sexist terminology for the High Holy Days. It has also issued a commentary on the Ten Commandments and the Book of Ruth, and has developed a consciousness-raising program for synagogues.

Information on the above publications may be obtained from:

The New York Federation of
Reform Synagogues (NY branch of UAHC)
838 Fifth Ave.
New York NY 10021

The life and work of Theresa Serber Malkiel (1874-1949), a prominent American Jewish labor leader, are discussed in an article by Sally Miller in the December 1978 issue of American Jewish History.

Malkiel was an independent, assertive Jewish woman who dedicated herself to unionizing women workers, alleviating the plight of foreign-born women, campaigning for women’s suffrage and honoring the Socialist Party’s commitment to sexual equality. Among other things, Malkiel organized both the Women’s Infant Cloak Makers’ Union and the first branch of the Socialist Women’s Society of New York.

Woman — Esha—Each Sister Helps Another is a new handbook put out by the counseling program for single parents, widows and women in crisis, sponsored by the National Council of Jewish Women. The handbook is available for use by the administrators of similar programs around the country.

National Council of Jewish
15 East 26 St.
New York NY 10003

Now that the period required for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment has been extended, prominent supporters and opponents of the amendment have rallied their forces for a new and intensified campaign.

A recent booklet put out by the National Women’s Division of the American Jewish Congress and entitled ERA — The Time Has Come, evaluates the organization’s efforts on behalf of the amendment’s passage and outlines strategy for the future.

The 27-page booklet, compiled by Beth Hurwitz, National Women’s Division Program Director, is a well-researched and highly informative document. In addition to summarizing the American Jewish Congress’ record of support for the ERA, the booklet provides a history of the amendment from its origins in the 1920’s, until the present, as well as a point-by-point “Imaginary Dialogue,” which presents the commonly cited arguments for and against the ERA.

ERA booklet
National Women’s Division
American Jewish Congress
15 East 84th St.
New York NY 10028

The Paper Pomegranate, the bulletin of the Pomegranate Guild of Judaic Needlework, is a valuable source of information on various aspects of this novel art form. The 17-page bulletin contains announcements of upcoming exhibits, articles dealing with Jewish needlework in various countries (including sample stitches unique to that Jewish community), book reviews and listings of new publications in the field. A Guild group show will be on exhibit at 838 Fifth Avenue, New York, Sept. 10 through Nov. 31.

The Bulletin is available, at $2.00 per copy, from:

The Pomegranate Guild of
Judaic Needlework
One Fanshaw Avenue
Yonkers NY 10705

A new bibliography, listing sources that offer critiques of the volunteer system, has recently been published by the Council of Planning Librarians.

Compiled by Doris B. Gold and entitled, Opposition to Volunteer-ism: A Bibliography, the work includes sections on the historical background of the volunteer system, the economics of volunteer-ism, N.O.W. (National Organization for Women) pamphlets and literature presenting the position of opponents and works which offer definitions of volunteerism. Copies may be ordered for $3.50 each from:

The Council of Planning
1313 East 60th St.
Chicago IL 60637

Professor Sol Liptzin’s recent pamphlet, Rehabilitation of Lilith traces the history of the legend and examines the development of a more positive attitude toward this independent Jewish female on the part of various authors and artists.

Professor Sol Liptzin
21 Washington St.
Jerusalem 94187