Pregnant? Worried? Call Jane.
The play “Jane: Abortion and the Underground,” by investigative journalist Paula Kamen, is about the secret feminist collective of mostly students and housewives who in pre-Roe 1969-1973 Chicago found or provided safe and inexpensive abortions for about 11,000 women. Excerpts from interviews are stitched together between fictionalized scenes, along with items from the group’s internal documents and newspaper clippings. The play, first published in 1999, has many roles for young women and is available free of charge for pro-choice fundraisers. Shorter and longer versions at PaulaKamen.com.
On the same subject, Paula Kamen recommends: Jane: An Abortion Service, a 1996 58-minute documentary film by Kate Kirtz and Nell Lundy, wmm.com; an oral history with members of the Jane Collective in the April issue of Harper’s magazine; The Story of Jane: The Legendary Underground Feminist Abortion Service, a 1995 book by Jane member Laura Kaplan. Poet Judith Arcana, also a Jane, renders interactions between the Janes and the women who came to them at juditharcana.com/jane.
CaringBridge: Rallying When Someone’s Sick
“In 1997, good friends of mine had a premature baby, and they asked me to let everyone know what was happening,” says Sona Mehring. “Instead of making dozens of emotional and time-consuming phone calls, I decided to create a website. The same night their baby was born so was the idea that became Caring Bridge.” The website lets you check in for updates on a friend’s condition, and post supportive messages. One in nine people in the U.S. has used the nonprofit to garner support for a loved one during a health crisis, and its reach extends to 236 countries. CaringBridge.org
Before Women Could Vote
“I decided that I would like to live long enough to see the election of our first woman president. When I was marking my absentee ballot for Hillary Clinton, it occurred to me that this wish is even more poignant, because I was born in 1918, two years before women achieved the right to vote.”
This statement from Estelle Liebow Schultz, age 98, was posted on Facebook by her niece Sarah Bunin Benor. The enormous response it garnered led to the launch of the website “I Waited 96 Years” and the recently released book We the Resilient: Wisdom for America from Women Born Before Suffrage, which Benor co-edited with Tom Fields-Meyer. The book’s stories, cumulatively cheering, have a foreword by Senator Barbara Boxer. Wetheresilientbook.com
Home. A place? Or an idea?
In celebration of the Dada art movement’s 100th anniversary, “No Place Like Home” traces how artists over the past century have incorporated commonplace household items into their work, removing them from the context of home in ways that subvert everyday experience. For this major exhibition, curator Adina Kamien-Kazhdan selected works by Martha Rosler, Mona Hatoum, Ilit Azoulay, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Claes Oldenburg and Andy Warhol and placed them in galleries transformed into quasi-domestic interiors. Some express gender politics. Yayoi Kusama’s 1963 “Ironing Board” combines domestic and phallic imagery to convey peace and pleasure, and Louise Bourgeois’s “Arched Figure” explores the phenomenon of hysteria. Other works focus on architecture, immigration and displacement. Sherrie Levine’s “Dada” investigates authorship and references Dada’s origins. “It is only in the estrangement that is created by art, the shock of the uncanny, and the awareness of our embodied reaction to our dwellings, that we can glimpse at other ways of living,” writes architect Esther Sperber in an essay in the exhibition catalog. On view through July 29, 2017, at the Israel Museum. Imj.org.il/en
A Yiddish Feminist Podcast. Who Knew?
Vaybertaytsh is a feminist podcast for the Yiddish-speaking and Yiddish- curious. It offers the opportunity to create and record new songs, interviews, and stories in Mameloshn (the mother tongue). Partly inspired by Second Wave feminist radio collectives of the 1970s and beyond, it aims to keep the Yiddish language healthy, lively, and evolving by using it to talk about our lives, politics, gender, Jewishness, sex, art and more. The name “vaybertaytsh” means women’s commentaries/translations. The podcast is entirely in Yiddish, but producer Sandy Fox (Sosye, in Yiddish) hopes English speakers will follow the blog and social media, which will be dual-lingual, and encourages Yiddish learners to take a listen, and to take part. vaybertaytsh.com
Sacred Texts, in Stitches
“God covers the sky with clouds, and prepares rain for the Earth, bestows snow as a blanket of wool, and throws hail like breadcrumbs.” Needlework artist, typeface inventor, statistician and midrashist Rachel Braun stitched her interpretation (below) of parts of verses 8, 16 and 17 of Psalm 147 for her meteorologist daughter. See more of her beautiful work in her new book, Embroidery and Sacred Text: New Designs in Judaic Needlework and on her blog, RachelBraun.net.
After being introduced to cachibol (catch-a-ball), a game like newcomb, Israeli Ofra Abramovitch in 2005 founded Mamanet, the League for Mothers. It now involves 60,000 women from over 1,000 municipalities across Israel, and has been adopted around the world. Through games it integrates immigrants, women with disabilities, women prisoners, women in shelters and girls at risk, seniors and Holocaust survivors. Learn more or join a team. Mamanet.org.il
Jewish Weddings Now
Marriage equality, internet resources, and DIY culture prompted Anita Diamant, author of The Red Tent and several guides to Jewish life, and a founder of Mayyim Hayyim: Living Waters Community Mikveh in Boston, to revise her 1986 classic The New Jewish Wedding, renaming it The Jewish Wedding Now. Simonandschuster.com
Learning, Eating in the Kalwa Slum
“Eat to learn” is Gabriel Project Mumbai’s innovative approach to the problems of poverty, hunger, illiteracy, malnutrition and child labor in the slums of India’s most populous city. In cooperation with other nonprofits, it helped establish an all-women food-service company that supplies meals for schoolchildren. GPM was founded in 2012 by Jacob Sztokman, an Australian Israeli. It partners with the Jewish community in India and offers volunteer opportunities too. Gabrielprojectmumbai.org
Austrian Jewish physicist Lise Meitner (1878–1968) was a pioneer in the research of radioactive processes, a colleague of many giants of 20th century physics, and the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in physics at the University of Vienna.
Even so, her colleague of 30 years, Otto Hahn, alone was awarded the 1944 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the “discovery” of nuclear fission — a discovery based on years of research in which Meitner was directly involved before her secret 1938 escape from Nazi Germany to Sweden. An e-biography by Patricia Rife is one in a series of biographies of Central European Jewish scientists who fled to the U.S. Plunkettlakepress.com/lm.html
The Potential of Jewish Early Childhood
Preschool years are a critical time in the development of cognition, personality and identity—including religious identity—and a time when parents are making friends and building community. Helping Jewish preschools improve and ultimately welcome more families with young children into Jewish life is the goal of a new, free publication with robust and concrete guidelines: The Standards of Excellence for Jewish Community Centers and Synagogues with Early Childhood Education Centers. rcfdenver.org/content/standards- excellence-jewish-community-centers-and-synagogues-early-childhood-education