Grace Paley: Collected Shorts
A firebrand for decades, short-story writer Grace Paley opposed war and nuclear proliferation and fought for women’s rights and the preservation of the environment. Though her steadfast activism often landed her in jail, she demonstrated how one person can make a difference. Lilly Rivlin’s new film about Paley, now in its final stages, includes exclusive interviews with friends, family, students and colleagues, including Alice Walker and Vivian Gornick, plus material from Paley’s own archives. See a clip of the work at gracepaleythefilm.com.
Modern Day Sex Slaves in Israel
Horrifyingly, Israel has become a destination country for human trafficking. Government sources approximate that 3000 women, most from the Former Soviet Union, have been smuggled into the country over the Egyptian border. Once in Israel, victims are repeatedly sold and resold to pimps and brothel owners, and are forced to work in slavery-like conditions. They are ruthlessly abused and exploited, suffering severe beatings, rape and sometimes even starvation. Atzum is an organization working to compel the Israeli government to combat trafficking via prevention and border closure, protection of those women who escape their owners, and prosecution of smugglers and pimps. atzum.org.il
Welcoming the Birth of a Daughter
A new English and Hebrew web resource at itim.org.il enables parents to access ceremonies and traditions for Simchat Bat and Zeved Habat (baby girl naming ceremonies) and create their own. “As a father of three girls, I have long been an advocate of the development by the traditional Jewish community of a ceremony that welcomes infant girls,” says Aryeh Rubin, whose Targum Shlishi foundation made this site possible. (Rubin assembled a manual of the Simchat Bat ceremony for his daughter Maya’s birth in 1996, available at targumshlishi. org/Simchat-Bat.pdf.)
The National Jewish Deaf Singles Registry
Deaf Jews often feel excluded from Jewish activities, and instead affiliate with the positive and often more welcoming general deaf community and culture. A new program of the Orthodox Union’s Yachad: National Jewish Council for Disabilities holds social events for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Their Jewish Deaf Singles Registry coordinates singles events and circulates a newsletter that includes personal ads for deaf Jewish singles, with levels of religious Jewish affiliation from unaffiliated to Orthodox. njcd.org
With All Your Heart
A groundbreaking new edition of the Friday night prayer book of New York’s Congregation Beth Simchat Torah expands definitions of Jewish family and community to explicitly embrace lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families. Edited by Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, it includes readings from Adrienne Rich, Muriel Rukeyser, Walt Whitman, Yehuda Amichai, and Rachel the Poet; a section on AIDS, Yiddish writing, American folk anthems, prayers and readings on disability, the environment, and social justice, and prayers for coming out and for marking a transgender experience. There’s feminine God language in Hebrew for many prayers and the inclusion of concubines Bilhah and Zilpah along with matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah,recognizing all of our mothers, not just the legally married ones. The siddur alters heterosexual references to God’s love for Israel; for example, changing “as the groom rejoices in the bride” to “as the heart rejoices in love.” The prayer book is intended for Jews from a broad spectrum of Jewish practice and of every sexual orientation and gender identity; there’s even an accompanying musical CD. cbst.org/NewSiddur.shtml
Writings by Survivors of Sexual Abuse.
For an anthology to be published by Safer Society Press (safersociety. org) submissions of poems, essays, short stories, and short plays-written by survivors can be sent by August 15 to Marjorie Ryerson, Editorial Director, Safer Society Press, P.O. Box 340, Brandon, VT 05733. email@example.com;
“The Ariella Dadon Story,” a startling cartoon in Hebrew and in English by Inbal Freund Novick and Chari Pere, tells how a 28-year-old abused wife obtained a get, the Jewish divorce, after years of struggle. The political cartoon is intended to educate people about agunot — women “chained” to their husbands under Jewish law — and encourages prevention of this status through premarital agreements. unmaskedcomic.com.
Combo Deal — a Mitzvah & Social Gathering All in One
JCorps is a volunteer-run, non-denominational, international social volunteer network for Jews ages 18 – 28. Small groups volunteer together in hunger relief, senior care, children’s hospitals, urban renewal, and environmental projects. Founded in NYC, it now operates in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Montreal, Toronto, Los Angeles and London. More at jcorps.org.
Reach Out to Cuban Jews Through Music
Ladino rock musician Sarah Aroeste and Cuban-American musician Roberto Rodriguez are collecting Jewish CDs (classical, folk, klezmer, Sephardic, Israeli, punk, jazz, kids, hip hop — in short, everything) — plus songbooks and listening devices of every sort in order to establish music libraries in Cuba. The first will be housed in the largest synagogue in Havana, with satellites in Camaguey, Santiago, Guantanamo, Santa Clara and Ciengfuegos. Send your tunes and paraphernalia to: Aroeste Music LLC, Attn: Cuba-Jewish Music Project, 255 W. 108th St., #5B, New York, NY 10025. The project also needs suitcases (worn ones are fine) and individuals traveling to Cuba to help with transport. You can get details at saraharoeste.com.