Your guide to everything Jewish and feminist

Breaking Ground
To coincide with the 90th anniversary of the first bat mitzvah ceremony in America, a small exhibit will travel from the JCC of Manhattan to synagogues and other JCCs. It will conclude with a large-scale exhibit in Philadelphia’s National Museum of American Jewish History which collaborated with Moving Traditions, an organization devoted to educating Jewish adolescents. Did you or someone you know have a first-of-its-kind bat mitzvah at your congregation? Did your bat mitzvah break new ground in some way — were you the first on a Friday night or Shabbat morning, the first to read from the Torah? Fill out a survey and learn about bringing the exhibit to your neighborhood.

Lilith Writers on Motherhood
On Mother’s Day, Susan Weidman Schneider, Yona Zeldis McDonough and Janice Eidus will explore how the themes of mothers and motherhood play out in their writing. What issues were they “working through?” How did they depict mothers of previous generations vs. their own generation? Is there a Jewish angle to any of this? Lilith Magazine Writers Contemplate Motherhood from Generation to Generation, of The City Congregation for Humanistic Judaism in New York is free and open to the public. Sunday, May 6.

Virtual Food Drives
Food Bank For New York City works to end food poverty throughout the five boroughs, where one in five children and one in six seniors rely on emergency food from a soup kitchen or food pantry to make ends meet. Their new fundraising tool will allow donors to create a personalized Virtual Food Drive page and invite friends, family or coworkers to donate.

Woman in Israel Writes Torah Scroll
Russian-born Masorti (Conservative) rabbi Hanna Klebansky, trained as a scribe, hopes the writing and reading of this Torah scroll — which will remain in Israel for use by a Modern Orthodox congregation — will send a message contradicting the exclusion of women. On her Facebook page Klebansky offers “letters for sale” at half a shekel each. She estimates the entire project will cost $36,000, including parchment, ink and work time.

A Daughter’s Recitation of Mourner’s Kaddish
Reciting kaddish for a deceased parent stands at the heart of the Jewish bereavement experience. While this public recitation has traditionally been a son’s responsibility, a daughter reciting kaddish is not a new concept. A book by Rahel Berkovitz shares 200 years of rabbis’ responses to questions on this subject; the original Hebrew and Aramaic sources have English translations. May a daughter recite kaddish alone or must it be in conjunction with a man? Should her kaddish be said aloud or quietly? Published as one of the Ta Shma Halakhic Source Guides from the Jewish Feminist Orthodox Alliance.

Oregon Jews and Woman Suffrage
Oregon’s Jewish community participated somewhat equivocally in the six campaigns that culminated in Oregon ultimately giving women the right to vote in 1912. A revealing exhibit features local newspaper accounts and photographs showing the different views voiced by local rabbis and Portland’s Jewish press. Josephine Hirsch, pictured here, organized the Portland Equal Suffrage League. Through May 6, 2012 at the Oregon Jewish Museum.

LGBT Jews in the 21st Century
Meet leaders from different segments of the Jewish lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Hear their experiences within each of the religious movements and about the increasing acceptance of diversity in Jewish communal life. What challenges and obstacles remain? Do Jewish institutions affect Jews’ experiences in acknowledging their sexual orientation? How has an openly gay identity affected their Jewish aspirations? Panel discussion will be followed by audience Q&A in NYC, June 6 at

Pro-Choice Student Network
The Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF) has started a campus program to inform young feminists about the threats by right-wing extremists to abortion access, women’s rights, affirmative action, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights. FMF works with students to generate change at the grassroots, national, and global levels, promoting informed activism, teaching about timely feminist issues, developing students’ leadership and organizing skills, and connecting with the larger pro-choice and feminist movements.

One Egg is a Fortune
A new Australian cookbook by this name draws in 50 well-known Jewish figures from around the world, including Tovah Feldshuh, Deb Filler, Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Janet Suzman, Neshama Carlebach, Phyllis Chesler, Naomi Chazan, Ruth Hendel, Madeline Kunin, and Marlee Matlin, as well as many men. They’ve contributed recipes, biographies and anecdotes to a cookbook edited by Pnina Jacobson and Judy Kempler of Sydney. Profits from the book go to local organizations that deliver services to Jewish elderly.

Matronita: Jewish Feminist Art
Dvora Liss and David Sperber have curated the first major exhibition in Israel of Jewish feminist art by women who come from traditional Jewish backgrounds. Sharing themes with feminist art in general — power and oppression, body image, women as periphery, object-subject, blood and menstruation, etc, — these works also deal with subjects unique to the Jewish experience: niddah and immersion, hair covering, the problems of the aguna, halachic infertility, women’s prayer, and women in the study hall. Artists who reexamine and reconstruct the tradition include Helène Aylon, Mierle Laderman-Ukeles, Carol Hamoy and Doni Silver Simons from the U.S., Jacqueline Nicholls and Myriam Tangi from Europe, and Andi Arnovitz from Israel. At the Ein Harod Museum in Israel,

A Bundle of Letters
The heartbreaking, absurd, and at times humorous stories of Jewish immigrants in America in the early 20th century were revealed in their letters to The Forward newspaper (Der Forvertz). Artist Liana Finck — who created the “Shul Detective” on Lilith’s blog — has based her debut graphic novel, A Bintel Brief, on The Forward’s beloved Yiddish advice column of the same name. Panels from Finck’s book are on view through May 31 at the Eldridge Street Synagogue, now celebrating its 125th anniversary on the Lower East Side.

MAMA: Motherhood Around the Globe
An exhibit of the online International Museum of Women explores emerging issues around maternal health and the unique challenges and changing perspectives of motherhood throughout the world. It showcases an original collection of works, including art, film, music, photography, essays and interviews, reflecting stories, visions and voices of motherhood from more than 60 countries — with more than 200 original, creative works to be rolled out by September 2012.

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