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Happening

Your indispensable guide

Marriage, I would rather have a cup of tea.

British artist Mila Tanya Griebel’s sterling silver ring (2000) riffs on a quotation from pop singer Boy George (“Sex, I’d rather have a cup of tea”) to call attention to agunot, women denied a Jewish divorce by their husbands. Another work, “Hevruta-Mituta,” 32 skullcaps on a white plastic chess board, created by Israeli artists Hadas Kruk and Anat Stein, draws an analogy between hevruta (learning with a partner) and chess competitions. Yarmulkes, in the past often knit by girls — for boys — during lessons in religious school, are emblems here of women’s increasing access to male-dominated Orthodox Jewish education and ritual. They’re part of an exhibition “Reinventing Ritual, ” new ritual objects and conceptual art by Oreet Ashery, Helene Aylon, Deborah Grant, Sigalit Landau, Mierle Laderman Ukeles and Galya Rosenfeld and others. At The Jewish Museum in New York, September 13, 2009-February 7, 2010 (thejewishmuseum. org) and the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, April 22 – September 28, 2010, thecjm.org

An anonymous and confidential helpline has volunteers who provide information, support, and referrals to survivors of abuse in the Jewish Orthodox community. SOVRI volunteers have training in the dynamics of sexual abuse, listening and counseling skills, emergency department protocol, legal issues and post-traumatic stress disorder. Volunteers are supervised by licensed social workers with extensive experience in these issues. Under the auspices of Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan, the helpline is open Monday – Thursday 9:30 – 5:30 and Friday 9:30 – 1:30. 212.844.1495.

The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival is the grandmother of all Jewish film festivals, now beginning its 30th year. It also offers year-round programs, filmmaker support and a digital media initiative to expand online access to and knowledge about Jewish-subject film. Created with the support of the Charles H. Revson Foundation and Steven Spielberg’s Righteous Persons Foundation, the online resources will include information on the more than 1000 films presented by SFJFF, and 250 titles from the Jewish Heritage Video Collection. www.sfjff.org

The Center for Women’s Justice files lawsuits, advocates creative halakhic approaches, and promotes systemic solutions to the complex religious dilemmas that challenge the status of Jewish women: including the agunah, get refusal, mamzer, and conversion. Attorney Susan Weiss, the director of this non-profit, says on her blog that her work in Israeli rabbinic and family courts is “like being an anthropologist on Mars.” cwjisrael.googlepages.com

Flowers are not enough.

“You need a need a lot of faith to get out of an abusive relationship” says Naomi Ackerman, American-born Israeli actress and educator who performs her onewoman show all over the world, including the United Nations but especially in synagogues, Jewish schools and churches. Originally produced under the auspices of the Jerusalem Ministry of Welfare for a conference on domestic violence, this 50-minute monologue tells the story of Michal, a young woman from an upper-middle-class family who finds herself in a relationship where love and attention cause her to excuse abuse. Michal explains why she couldn’t bring herself to accept help along the slippery slope of denial and plummeting self esteem www.naomiackerman.com

She writes

Here’s the social networking site for women writers. If you loved the piece on writing groups for women in Lilith’s Spring 2009 issue, check out this new project. shewrites.com

Mapping the spiritual journey of later life

“On Being an Elder: Distinguished Older Jews Reflect on their Spiritual Journeys in Later Life,” a panel moderated by Rabbi Richard F. Address, along with keynotes by Rabbi Dayle Friedman and Jeff Levin, a video address “From Age-ing to Sage-ing” by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, and skillbuilding workshops. All at a conference for lay and professional leaders, November 19, 2009, in Manhattan, co-sponsored by UJA-Federation of New York’s Caring Commission and Hiddur: The Center for Aging and Judaism of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Contact Jodi Ellenbogen at 212.836.1473; ujafedny.org/spiritual journey

A Guide to Tying Headscarves (Mitpachot Mitapchot) [Kerchiefs Nurture]

For her senior project as an art student in Jerusalem, Michal Katz created a booklet of creative ways to tie headscarves, particularly those worn by some Orthodox Jewish women. The project grew, and is now a Hebrew book, complete with detailed illustrations, suitable, she notes, as “a gift for brides and any woman who wants to vary her headcoverings.” Check out some sample pages at www.mitpachot.co.il. Even if you don’t read Hebrew, it’s fun to see!

Last letters from family members Elisabeth Pollaert Smith, a former attorney and now photographer, is the daughter of Holocaust survivors. Volunteering years ago with the Red Cross in London, her work entailed entering information from letters sent by people searching for family members missing after the Holocaust. These letters often contained copies of the last correspondence received from the missing family member. Now Smith is collecting copies of such last letters to publish them as a book. Each letter will be photographed and appear with a translation if necessary, and a photograph of the letter-writer if available, as well as any commentary the family would like to include. Elisabeth Pollaert Smith: epollaert@gmail.com

How can I ask my boyfriend if he has a sexually transmitted disease? I’m ready to have sex and I want to tell my mom; what should I say? How do I know if I’m gay? A new section of Planned Parenthood’s website is dedicated to providing teens with answers to difficult questions and providing tips and guidance for parents and caregivers who could use a little help initiating the conversation. ppaction.org/ct/b1NN_Z71LTeS/TeenTalk

Limmud 

Founded over 25 years ago in the United Kingdom, and famous for its annual winter conference in London that attracts over 2,000 participants, Limmud is a model that is being replicated all over the world, providing high quality, innovative Jewish educational events for Jews from all walks of life, backgrounds, lifestyles, and ages. November brings Limmud conferences in Argentina, France, and Stockholm, and plans are already in the works for several cities in the United States for 2010. Limmud.org

The new Jewish food movement 

Join farmers and rabbis, nutritionists and chefs, vegans and omnivores, students and families to explore Jewish food culture, cutting edge food law and policy, food justice, kosher meat issues, health and nutrition, cooking and gardening, and Israeli food and agriculture. Experience do-it-yourself food workshops, cooking demonstrations, lectures, discussions, Shabbat celebrations, and “consciously prepared” food at the 4th annual Hazon Food Conference, December 24-27, 2009 on the Monterey Coast in California. Hazon aims to weave commitments to sustainability into the fabric of Jewish life around the world. hazon.org/food/conference