Daniela Weiss, named executive director of New York’s Drisha Institute, a center for women’s study of Jewish texts. Weiss, 41, has an extensive business background, including her most recent stint as a vice president at Citigroup.
“It’s part of the American Jewish dream to be an insider in a Fortune 500 firm or whatever,” Weiss said. “For my parents, that wasn’t possible. It was so exciting for me, that I could advance up the ladder, even as I was Shomer Shabbat and was eating fruit salads at business lunches.”
Weiss says that people were surprised when she left Citigroup for Drisha. The focus in the Jewish community, she says, has not been Jewish education.
“The measure of success has been, can you make it now where it used to be impossible,” Weiss said. “But we as Jews need to ask ourselves, are we ‘succeeding’ at the expense of understanding who we are as Jews, and of promoting learning?”
Political activist Henna White, cited by Women’s e-News this year as one of 21 leaders for the 21 st century. The South African-born White now serves as Jewish community liaison for Brooklyn District Attorney Cliarles J. Hynes.
Journalist Paula Kassell, who turned 85 last December. Kassel founded the newspaper New Directions for Women in 1975, which ceased publication after 18 years, making it one of the longest-lived feminist periodicals. In 1986 Kassell shamed The New York Times into using “Ms.” instead of “Miss” or “Mrs.,” to refer to women.
Dr. Maxine Singer, biochemist and president of the Carnegie Institute of Washington, D.C. Singer received the Distinguished Service and Leadership Award from the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science. For 30 years. Singer, 72, worked on “transposable genes,” a basic area of genetics research essential to the study of cancer.
LILITH notes the passing of two exemplary women. Esther Farber, 67, in January. Farber was a major force behind modern Orthodoxy’s feminist movement. She had been executive director for the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, and was among the first supporters of LILITH Magazine. Feminist sociologist and peace activist Dafna Izraeli, 65, died in February. Izraeli, a professor at Bar Ilan University, was one of the founders of Israel Women’s Network. “She always found time for people—a great way to interpret the notion that the personal is political!” wrote a mourning friend after Izraeli’s death.
Rochelle Shoretz, Idit Klein, Yavilah McCoy, and Ronit Avni each are the recipients of a Social Entrepreneur Fellowship from the Joshua Venture, a San Francisco-based foundation that awards grants to young people to promote social innovation in American Jewish communities. Shoretz, 30, of New Jersey, created Sharsheret, a peer support group for young Jewish women with breast cancer; McCoy, also 30, the St. Louis-based Ayecha Resource Organization for Jews of color. Avni founded Just Vision, which strives to connect peace activists here and in Israel through the use of media. Klein has been one of the leading forces behind Keshet, a Boston-based leadership training community for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Jews.