In June, the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) honored political advisor and longtime women’s rights activist Ann F. Lewis (left) with an award named for Belle Moskowitz. Lewis, who headed Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, is now president of No Limits, a non-partisan, non-political organization working on local, national and global challenges.
Moskowitz (right) was a settlement worker, civic reformer, and labor mediator who became one of the closest advisors to New York governor Alfred E. Smith in the 1920s. She organized his campaigns and served as a strategist in his “kitchen cabinet.” By the time Smith ran for president in 1928, Moskowitz was by far the most powerful woman in the national Democratic Party — the only Jewish woman and the only woman unconnected to a prominent family to achieve such standing, according to the NJDC.
“Sometimes we are treated as though we were the organization of eczema sufferers in the Haredi world ” Malcah says. “We’re told that as soon as we recognize that a problem exists, we also encourage it. Maybe that’s true, but the problem still exists.”
“Coming here is a joy. It doesn’t solve my problems, and doesn’t increase my child support payments. The main thing here is dealing with things together, and the fact that the staff put their hearts and souls into it. It’s a heavy load; it grows much lighter together,” Aliza says.
Good words for Em Habanim, an Israeli nonprofit organization working with divorced haredi (ultra-Orthodox) women from “What’s an Ultra-Orthodox Divorcée To Do?” in Haaretz newspaper, June 1, 2009
What language should women use in honoring the dead?
“Feminist Funerals,” by Amy Stone, in Lilith’s summer issue reported on new ways women are honoring departed friends and relatives. In an email, Rabbi Regina Sandler-Phillips expanded on the article’s description of the “Taharah Manual” her Brooklyn burial society has prepared.
“The manual’s English translation does not change the ‘master of the universe’ language of the original but its highly egalitarian language in both the Hebrew and the English honors all six matriarchs. Jewish feminist liturgy has been slow to overcome the social-class bias that excludes Bilhah and Zilpah from their rightful place among the matriarchs (our manual being one of few exceptions).” For those wondering about these additional matriarchs: According to Genesis, Zilpah was the servant of matriarch Leah, and Bilhah the servant of matriarch Rachel, the wives of patriarch Jacob. All four women gave birth to children by Jacob, with their 12 sons’ descendants becoming the 12 tribes of Israel. For more on this manual, go to lilith.org/?p=423.
An unrelated correction: Jewish tradition is for a child to mourn a parent for 11 months minus one day. Lilith had said plus one day.