I know that with every conversation I have with my friends, I will walk away with a stronger, more nuanced point of view, and hopefully they will too. When engaging in respectful discourse, my ideas become bigger, and my ignorance fades.
As a child, I was loud and outspoken. I prided myself on my intelligence and eagerness to learn; I truly had killer confidence. I told people I was going to be “the dictator of the world” when I grew up. But as time went on, it became increasingly apparent that the education system didn’t have room for a personality like mine. Well, at least when that personality belonged to a girl.
Last winter, I created Girl Speak, an event-based organization built to foster education and action on issues affecting teenage girls as an answer to the calling I’d felt for years. When I first started labeling myself a feminist in middle school, I began searching for a way to become more engaged in social justice work and start making more of an impact on the world.
While I can understand why some feminists want to reclaim this word, I personally believe it’s one of the vilest things you can say to or about someone. It’s indicative of our society’s contempt and disgust for the female sex.
Gentileschi’s rendition of Judith is a self-portrait—allowing her to wield a sword and take revenge, if only in fantasy. Judith Slaying Holofernes was the first piece of feminist art that really moved me. Even now, I get chills when I view it. I thought a lot about Judith this week, after dusting off my menorah and dutifully buying candles and gelt.
It was her go-to statement whenever she was cajoling me into doing something she considered a mitzvah, especially when I wasn’t exactly jumping at the opportunity. She would look at me with that, you know, mom look, and say, “Do good things and tell people you’re Jewish.”
Judaism never seemed to offer anything that stoked my social justice fire. I didn’t hear many calls to action in services; partly because I wasn’t looking, and partly because services felt mundane to me.
Caitlin Wolper’s first poetry collection, Ordering Coffee in Tel Aviv, is a powerful account of a young Jewish woman’s first trip to Israel. In this chapbook, Wolper powerfully grapples with themes of gender, identity, and “the leash of Israel’s legacy.” Exclusively for JWA, Wolper reflects on her inspiration and creative process for two selected poems.
I never paid much attention to our history when I was younger. I felt very disconnected from my Jewish past, as I had little grasp of what the Holocaust really was and what it meant to be Jewish, especially growing up in an area with few Jews.
In the wake of the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue shooting, the 2018-2019 Rising Voices Fellows came together to reflect, respond, and call people to action. In these pieces you will find connection, sadness, outrage, courage, and compassion. You will find the strength of today’s teens who are growing up in an age of so much senseless gun violence.
To me, being a feminist means working to achieve equity for all members of society, confronting personal bias, alleviating institutional sexism, and prompting others to do the same. There are so many ways feminism manifests itself in my life, but until freshman English class, I didn’t even think to consider one of the most significant ways that I’m involved in political feminism.
Onstage with Boston Globe reporter and fellow Jewish lady Meredith Goldstein, Jacobson is personable, sharp, and at times, self-deprecating. Her comedic timing is exactly what you would expect from one of the creators/writers/stars of Broad City: spot on.
Because I didn’t have support, because I felt alone, I didn’t confront my teacher about his words that day or about the lack of Holocaust education. I didn’t take a stand, either, when I found the words “JEW HUNTER” scrawled on the leg of a desk. Nor did I speak up when I found the same horrifying phrase on a different desk a few weeks later.
The first time I visited the Kotel (Western Wall), I cried. I know, this is nothing unusual. This historic place often invokes intense spiritual connection or deep reflection from its visitors, moving them to tears. I was certainly overcome by emotion, but for a completely different set of reasons.
Judith Rosenbaum, Executive Director of JWA, shares her thoughts on the Women's March leaders and their associations with Louis Farrakhan. She writes, "I don’t have any easy or solid answers, but here are 10 brief thoughts to add to the conversation."
I feel proud of my Jewish and feminist beliefs as separate and intersecting parts of my identity and yet, especially after what happened at the march, I shy away from labeling myself a “Zionist.” Maybe it’s because I’m really not a Zionist, or maybe it’s because I’m afraid of the consequences that come with such a label.
The very idea that I would have to proudly chant and accept this story, this version of Judaism that so obviously conflicted with my feminist sensibility, forced me to question my Jewish identity in a very real way, and for the first time.
I have told myself that these strangers, whose microaggressions have plagued me for years, do not deserve my life story. It is usually strangers who demand it, who scrutinize my accent, singling me out as someone who does not belong in the only country that has granted me citizenship. I am an American, and I am a refugee.
I made the decision to continue Hebrew school after seventh grade when my friends informed me that they signed up because it “sounded fun.” That decision, although not well thought out, was one of the best choices I’ve ever made.
Allow the comfortingly familiar piano chords of track one, Vanessa Carlton’s certified jam “A Thousand Miles,” to transport you. Whether you’re “making your way downtown, walking fast,” or just “lying here,” there’s a song in this playlist for everyone.
When I think of something that represents my Jewish and female identity, I often go to a ring that my grandmother, who I call my abuela, gifted me. It had belonged to her before, and I had always admired it whenever she wore it.
I want to be in a world where all those around me get to not just exist, but fully live. I want to raise my children in an environment that allows folks to breathe deeply, function without fear, and be who they truly are. But it takes more than just wanting.