Like all large groups of people, American Jews are complex and irreducible despite some aspects of shared culture. Recently, the Jewish Women’s Archive made an interesting choice to focus a new curriculum on Jewish involvement in the labor and civil rights movements — without cheerleading or focusing solely on women’s involvement — thereby shining a probing light on that very complexity.
While attending a Jewish Funder’s Network conference 15 years ago, I received a monograph on Jewish social justice. The powerful essay, written by Leonard Fein, lifelong champion of many social justice issues, had a major flaw. It did not refer to a single woman activist.
As it does every year, The Forward recently published its Forward 50 — and just like every year, the list is short on women. Forward editor Jane Eisner notes the lack of female names on the list, saying “it also could be because we weren’t looking in the right places” for women worthy of inclusion on the list. I’ve got a few names in mind:
The current theme here at the Sisterhood is about women being seen and heard. I like that! Renee Ghert-Zand wrote about a really important initiative to encourage women to get their strong voices out there by writing more op-ed articles. Debra Nussbaum Cohen and Devra Ferst reminded women to speak up unapologetically. And I, myself, have been writing, perhaps a bit obsessively, about female representation (or lack there-of) in print, in professional life and in leadership. It’s all about women having a presence, and being properly acknowledged and respected for what they say and do.