With the Treasury Department’s decision to boot Alexander Hamilton off the $10 bill in place of a woman, we have until 2020 - a century after women achieved voting rights - to choose which lovely lady to take his place. While the decision is ultimately in the hands of Jack Lew, the Treasury secretary, he’s seeking out public input. This will be the first time in 119 years that a female figure will adorn the face of American currency. Now we’re wondering which Jewish women we’d like to see on the new $10 bill.
It’s the law that no living person can appear on a bill, which leaves out contestants such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Gloria Steinem. Ginsburg, the second female Supreme Court Justice and the first Jewish female Justice in history, is a long-time women’s rights activist and advocate of abortion rights. Fellow feminist, Steinem, now advocates internationally for equality after having risen among the ranks of women’s rights leaders after her New York Magazine article, “After Black Power, Women’s Liberation.”
The past two weeks have been historic for Jewish women. Orthodox women in both Israel and New York were ordained as clergy – although with a variety of titles from Maharat to Rabba to Rabbi, but effectively all as rabbis. While Yeshivat Maharat is now the veteran institution with five years of experience at this, Yeshivat Har’el appears more liberal in calling women “rabbi” or “rabba.” Israeli Orthodoxy thus effectively caught up with and then surpassed American Orthodoxy, creating a bizarre and beautiful historic twist in which organizations seem to racing against one another to demonstrate the greatest commitment to women’s advancement in religious Judaism.
I first met Bonna in London in late 1985. She and Shmuel and Tiferet were living on the attic floor of an old house in Hampstead while she finished her Phd. I had never met a couple like Bonna and Shmuel before. They moved to their own beat. They were quirky, charming, funny, eclectic. I couldn’t locate them on any axis of people I had met before in my life.
Aurora, the daughter of Rosario. Lesléa, the daughter of Florence. The mothers are invoked; their names are eternal.
Aurora Levins Morales and Lesléa Newman came together on a recent Sunday afternoon in Boston under the auspices of Keshet—a national organization dedicated to the inclusion of LGBT Jews in all aspects of Jewish life — to talk about their mothers and their dynamic relationships with them. They spoke about loving and fighting and ultimately grieving for their mothers.
At my cousin’s Israeli wedding, her groom made a single concession to formal dress: He agreed to keep his shirt tucked in during the huppah ceremony. Whether because of its socialist roots or the hot and sticky weather, Israeli style tends toward the casual. This can include sandals and t-shirts for business meetings, and short sleeves sans tie for charity dinners.