This film by Avi Nesher (“Turn Left at the End of the World”) is set in Israel’s sacred city of Tzfat with its New Age element, and has an unusual soundtrack of female voices lifted in prayerful song. After her mother’s death, Naomi, the learned daughter of a rabbi, postpones her arranged marriage to come to a seminary for ultra-Orthodox young women with a headmistress — barely tolerated by the local religious establishment — who believes one day there will be female rabbis. Naomi and defiant, freespirited Michelle befriend a mysterious terminally ill woman, Anouk, and devise a secret Kabbalistic plan to help her expiate her earlier crime of passion. In the process, Naomi and Michelle fall in love, with complicated repercussions. montereymedia.com/theatrical/films/secrets_the.html
Feel Your Boobies®
isn’t quite what you’d think. This smart website is a more lighthearted than the usual way to get women young and not-so-young to act on what many already know: the importance of self-examination for early detection of breast cancer. The slogan works as a conversation-starter on a t-shirt, a billboard, a coaster at a coffee shop or on balloons at a friend’s birthday party. feelyourboobies.com
Activists who’ve got religion
Healers of Our Time: Women, Faith, and Justice is a report looking at religious women’s progressive gender-focused activism in social justice movements, in academia, and in popular culture. This study is the first phase of what is planned as a more comprehensive effort. (Unfortunately, Lilith is not included in their list of media… maybe in the next stage?) The report is available in print or online from the Sister Fund. sisterfund.org
Under the same tent: racially and ethnically diverse Jews
Want to build a broader community? In New York City, you can join groups for young adult Jews of varied racial and ethnic backgrounds. There are other choices too — for parents of racially and ethnically diverse children, for Jewish parents whose children are in interracial relationships, and for interracial couples where one or both partners are Jews. The groups are co-sponsored by San Francisco’s Bechollashon.org and the Jewish Board of Family and Children Services in New York City (jbfcs.org). Contact Judith Levitan, LCSW: jlevitan@ jbfcs.org; 212-399-2685 x 219.
A captain of the American Jewish community, Baltimore’s Shoshana Cardin has had lifelong career as a volunteer. She participated in redrafting the Maryland State Constitution, helped American women gain access to credit and greater financial security, opened the way for Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union and — speaking truth to power — reminded the world that anti-Semitism is unacceptable. Memoirs of Shoshana Shoubin Cardin, published by the Jewish Museum of Maryland, chronicles this one-woman engine driving political and social change. Proceeds from the sale of the book will go to the Shoshana S. Cardin Independent Jewish High School in Baltimore. $25. jewishmuseummd.org
“Pro-ana” (pro-anorexia) evils online
have grown exponentially, as a result of social networking on the Internet. On the websites of these groups, people suffering from anorexia and bulimia trade tips on how to get thinner. Some, bizarrely, even compete over who will be first to get to the ultimate finish-line — death. Here are websites countering these recipes for self-destruction: health.groups.yahoo. com/group/strongerthanthemonster and eatingdisorders.org.
Girls write now
This creative writing and mentoring organization engages a community of women writers — authors, editors, educators, journalists, playwrights, publishers, advertising and PR professionals and literary agents — who provide a safe space for New York City’s high school girls to develop their creative, independent voices, explore careers in professional writing, and learn how to make healthy choices in school, career and life. There are many ways you can become involved. girlswritenow.org.
A combination showstopper and public servant, character actress and superstar, Molly Picon embodied the spirit of Yiddish theater and culture for the 20th century. She rose to fame performing in Yiddish for audiences from Argentina to Zagreb, entertained American troops in Korea and played to Jewish survivors in post-Holocaust Warsaw. She dressed as a yeshiva boy to play Yidl and an old woman to play Yente and won the hearts of audiences even if they did not speak Yiddish. “Molly Picon: Pages from a Performing Life” is an exhibition of the scrapbooks kept by this legendary performer and her husband and collaborator, Jacob Kalich. The American Jewish Historical Society through September 30, 2009 at the Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, NYC, and also viewable online. ajhs. org/publications/Exhibitions.cfm.
“At Home in Utopia”
In the 1920s, a group of Jewish garment workers, believing they could create a radical new American dream committed to equality, justice and beauty, left behind the tenements to build cooperative apartment complexes in the green, spacious borough of the Bronx. A film by Michal Goldman and Ellen Brodsky focuses on the United Workers Cooperative Colony known as ”the Coops” — the grassroots and member -driven member-driven housing housing cooperatives where many of the residents were Communist or sympathetic to the communist movement. They were part of a mass movement strong enough to get 24 states to enact emergency legislation against morgage foreclosures. The film tracks the rise and fall of the Coops from 1920s to the 1950s, showing lives lived with courage across the barriers of race and ethnicity, foreshadowing the struggles and triumphs of the 1960s and today. pbs.org/athomeinutopia
In the winter of 1917, times were also tough. Rising food prices drove people to desperate measures. Rioters attacked food shops and burned pushcarts on New York’s Lower East Side and in sections of Brooklyn. Women took to the streets to protest rising prices of kosher meat just before Passover. Playwright and director Melissa Fendell tells their story in her new play, “Give Us Bread,” (below) produced by The Anthropologists, which will have a reading and panel discussion on April 30 at New York’s Tenement Museum, tenement.org For more on this historic women’s action against price gouging, visit thefoodriotproject.blogspot.com.