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Happening

Your guide to the universe of Jewish & female

Bagels, Blueberry Buns, Baby Beef
Are you a chef or nutritionist? Consider yourself kind of kosher? Would you not eat meat if you had to kill and prepare it yourself? Grow your own vegetables? Say a blessing before eating? Your grandparents were farmers? You might find others like yourself at Shoresh Jewish Environmental Programs, the Jewish food movement’s manifestation in the Greater Toronto Area, with an organic farm, CSA and an annual food conference. Hear from a backyard chicken advocate. Learn what makes cheese kosher and what makes Toronto’s Jewish food culture unique. shoresh.ca

Coming Soon: A New Understanding of Love
Attitudes toward love and marriage have changed hugely in the past 50 years, thanks to social and sexual revolutions of the 1960s, the spread of feminism, liberalizing attitudes toward gender-role construction, new reproductive technologies, and economic shifts. Explore these deep changes at the International Conference on New Understandings of Gender, Love, and the Jewish Family, meeting December 26–27, 2012 at Jerusalem’s Van Leer Institute, co-sponsoring this academic conference with Hadassah Brandeis Institute. Contact Dafna Schreiber, dafanas@vanleer.org.il.

Life, an Instructional Manual
Here’s a new and monumental (900-page!) resource “pushing tradition gently forward…and sometimes addressing new perplexities,” in the introductory words of Arnold M. Eisen. The Observant Life: The Wisdom of Conservative Judaism for Contemporary Jews covers almost every topic you can think of, including Karen G. Reiss Medwed on prayer, Jane Kanarek on citizenship and contracts, Abigail Sosland on crime and punishment, Cheryl Peretz on employers and employees, Tracee Rosen on loans and lending, Nina Beth Cardin on neighborly relations, Elliot N. Dorff on same-sex relationships and Jeremy Kalmanofsky on sex, relationships and single Jews. rabbinicalassembly.org

It’s a Wrap!
Who would have thought? Here’s a women’s tefillin gemach, a loan organization set up explicitly to provide tefillin for women who want to try out the mitzvah of wearing ritual phylacteries, or who have already taken on this observance but can’t afford their own tefillin (which start at about $150). It was established by soferet (scribe) Jen Taylor Friedman, the first woman to write a Torah scroll. To borrow, contact Alexandra Casser, tell her a bit about yourself; she will mail you a set, and will answer questions on the use of your tefillin. After a few months, she’ll get back in touch and ask if you would like to simply keep them longer, return them, or buy them either for the cost of a new pair (which the gemach will buy for the next borrower) or for whatever price you can afford. womenstefillingemach@gmail.com

Irma Stern
Two paintings, “Pink Sari” and “Zulu Girl” by Irma Stern (1894–1966) made news in the international art market in February, breaking records for South African art. They sold for $1.5 million and $727,000 respectively. The artist, born in South Africa to German-Jewish immigrant farmers, fled the Boer War with her mother in 1899 and spent her formative years in Germany, where she completed her arts education. She eventually had almost 100 solo exhibitions in South Africa and Europe. Stern’s home in Capetown was made into a museum, and houses a permanent collection of her work. Several rooms are furnished as she arranged them; an upstairs gallery hosts contemporary South African artists. irmastern.co.za

Where Gays Are Welcome
Soon LGBTQ Jews and their loved ones will be able to find a welcoming institution or spiritual leader in the Jewish community. Help create this directory by filling out a short survey of yes/no questions. All information provided, except where clearly indicated, will be made public on the Keshet website. keshetonline.org

Jewish After-School Care
The Jewish Enrichment Center in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago is unusual because it serves young children from families across the Jewish spectrum, from day school attendees to unaffiliated. This afterschool program connects entire families via Sunday morning activities where infants through three-year olds attend along with their parents or grandparents. Nursery through second graders come after school during the week. Founder and director Rabbi Rebecca Milder says the center “brings together my three professional passions — Jewish education; informal, child-centered learning; and Jewish community-building.” Jewishenrichment.org

Freedom Riders
Male and female volunteers ride the problematic Israeli public bus lines traveling through ultra-Orthdox neighborhoods which have required women to enter via the back door and sit in the rear. These “freedom riders” monitor implementation of the Israeli Supreme Court decision outlawing these discriminatory practices. They report any irregularity or violation of passengers’ rights. Their efforts serve as a personal example for ultra-Orthodox women, showing them that they too, can sit at the front of the bus. To volunteer, contact Israel Religious Action Center field coordinator Eyal Ostrinsky, eyalos@irac.org or Netta Ravid, Freedom Riders coordinator, in Israel: 054-588-2407.

Women Heard in Johannesburg and Cape Town
On Freedom Day, April 27, which this year marked 18 years since South Africa became a democracy, a group of women began a campaign to protest that in their Jewish community women’s singing has been stricken from secular communal events. Eleven prominent female members of the Cape Town and Johannesburg communities explain why they oppose this exclusion. See them on the website of the South African Centre for Religious Equality and Diversity. SACRED describes itself as a progressive Jewish voice on relevant social, moral, ethical and religious issues. sacred.org.za

Women’s Research Prize
A prize from International Council of Jewish Women, which represents Jewish women’s organizations in 43 countries, will honor outstanding original research on topics that advances understanding of the role of Jewish women and their contribution as leaders; addresses a way to improve the situation of Jewish women and analyzes their effectiveness in the world; or evaluates the place of women within the predominantly male leadership structures in Jewish life. Winner receives a $1,000 honorarium. Submissions must be received by September 2, 2012. www.icjw.org

Makom — Creative Canadian Downtown Judaism
This grassroots inclusive downtown Toronto community has been building traditional and progressive Jewish life in that city since 2009, integrating Jewish learning, arts and culture, prayer and ritual, and social and environmental activism. Gathering every other Friday night, Makom also offers bi-weekly Saturday afternoon meditation, a monthly women’s new-moon circle, holiday programming, and events for young families. Its agenda is to breathe new energy into downtown areas that were once the hub of Toronto Jewish life. makomto.org

— compiled by Naomi Danis

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