What’s Interesting Right Now

Gertrude Stein! Hannah Arendt! Susan Sontag!

Imagine these 20th-century greats and 31 other Jewish women as contemporaries sharing space in a museum show. These new portraits by London-based painter Chantal Joffe also include Diane Arbus, Nancy Spero and Alice B. Toklas. The artist gathered both well-known and obscure texts and images, and built whole worlds around herself and the women, whom she has represented at various stages in their lives, during moments both big and small. “Using Walls, Floors, and Ceilings: Chantal Joffe” is on view through October 18, 2015, at the Jewish Museum in New York. thejm.org

Theatre and the Holocaust 

An annotated bibliography by Rochelle Saidel lists plays about women and the Holocaust, plays about the Holocaust by women, and books about women, theatre, and the Holocaust. It includes essays by Meghan Brodie and a guide by Karen Shulman about using theatre to teach women’s Holocaust experiences. This handbook will eventually be incorporated into a virtual encyclopedia called “Holocaust Theatre Online Connection.” Send your suggestions for additions. Rememberwomen.org

“For You the Sun Will Shine”

Songs written by female composers, both Jewish and Gentile, who faced the Holocaust, evoke rage, heartbreak and yearning. They represent a mostly overlooked aspect of the Holocaust: the work of female artists who fell prey to the Nazi scourge. In a new album they are interpreted by the Israeli-Italian singer known as Shulamit, who, along with Frank London and Shai Bachar, set the haunting words to music. shulamitvoice.com

History for Girls

SPARK Movement — a feminist organization for girls — reached out to Google after noticing that the tech giant’s daily doodles featured women only 17% of the time. SPARK (Sexualization Protest, Activism, Resistance, Knowledge)  which celebrates what girls can do — not just what they look like — was invited to research and honor notable women through a mapping project powered by Google. Now, when users of the Field Trip app switch on history notifications, they’re alerted as they approach the location where a woman has made history, and see information about her achievements. All the research and work behind this “On the Map” project was performed by girls aged 13–22. Women on the map so far include, in Santiago, Chile, the Arpilleristas, a group of women who wove colorful tapestries documenting the turmoil and violence of Pinochet’s regime; in San Francisco, Mary Ellen Pleasant, an activist and abolitionist who, among other things, dressed like a jockey to help slaves who had escaped their plantations; and, in Lyme, England, Mary Anning, who discovered fossils of a Plesiosaurus, rocking the scientific community. Nominate your favorite historical women to be featured at sparksummit.com/onthemap

Ingenious Projects

In this comprehensive resource guide, Judaica artist and eco-activist Betsy Teutsch offers detailed descriptions, photos and links for 100 simple and ingenious projects you can participate in to empower women all over the world who are challenged by poverty. Some examples? Replacing female genital mutilation with alternative rites of passage. Creating disposable menstrual pads from processed banana fiber, making it possible for adolescent girls to attend school more regularly. Cervical cancer screenings using vinegar. Urban “bag gardening.” Improving roofing by turning plastic bottles into thatch. This book is a great reminder of human creativity, demonstrating how one person can make a difference. 100 Under $100: One Hundred Tools for Empowering Global Women. 100under100.org

Art, Craft and Design

In the 1950s and 60s, when men dominated painting, sculpture, and architecture, women had considerable impact in alternative materials such as textiles, ceramics, and metals. Largely unexamined in major art historical surveys, either because of their gender or their choice of materials, these pioneering women achieved success and international recognition, establishing a model of professional identity for those who followed. Featuring more than 100 works, “Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft and Design, Midcentury and Today,” focuses on a core cadre of influential women designers, artists, and teachers — including Edith Heath, Sheila Hicks, Karen Karnes, Dorothy Liebes and Eva Zeisel — who used clay, fiber, and metal in innovative ways. This cohort came to maturity along with the Museum of Arts and Design itself, founded in 1956 as the center of the emerging American modern craft movement. Through September 27 at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York. Madmuseum.org

Raising Race-Conscious Children

“It starts one conversation at a time,” writes Sachi Feris, whose blog and website for parents links to relevant resources like books, organizations, workshops and phone consultations. “If we commit to collectively trying to talk about race with young children, we can lean on one another for support as we, together, envision a world where we actively challenge racism each and every day.” The organization aims to create a supportive environment for parents working on this issue. raceconscious.org 

“Stars Without a Heaven”

About 1.5 million of the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust were children. Only a few thousand European Jewish children survived. A new exhibit, “Children in the Holocaust: Stars Without a Heaven” at Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, focuses on how these children held onto life. Their toys, games, artwork, diaries, poems and personal stories reveal their attempts to maintain childhood and youth by creating an imagined reality different from what surrounded them. Curator Yehudit Inbar writes that the exhibit took inspiration from these words written by Polish psychologist and orphanage director Janusz Korczak in his Rules of Life: A Childhood of Dignity: “It is wrong for adults to say  and for the more intelligent of the children to repeat after them ‘Such a big boy and he plays like a baby; such a big girl and she still plays with dolls.’ What matters is not what one plays with, but rather how and what one thinks and feels while playing. One can play wisely with a doll or play childishly and foolishly at chess.” Until April 2016. Yadvashem.org

Good Deeds Day

Started by Israeli businesswoman and philanthropist Shari Arison, Good Deeds Day is organized by Ruach Tova (Good Spirit), and has become an annual tradition since 2007 when 7,000 individuals volunteered. In 2015 there will be 930,000 participants in 61 countries volunteering in hospitals, orphanages, with Holocaust survivors, planting gardens, and in afterschool programs. For information, ideas and tips: gdd.goodnet.org 


— compiled by Naomi Danis

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