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Winter 2011/2012



Magazine of Na’amat USA Winter 2011/2012 Vol. XXVII No. 1

Mothers and Daughters Talk About Jewish Feminism........................................4

Editor Judith A. Sokoloff

Feminism has transformed American Jewish life over the past 40 years. What have these changes meant to

Assistant Editor Gloria Gross

the older and younger generations of women? By Rahel Musleah

Art Director Marilyn Rose

The Amazing American Jewish Story.................................................................8

Editorial Committee Harriet Green Sylvia Lewis Sharon Sutker McGowan Elizabeth Raider Shoshana Riemer Edythe Rosenfield Lynn Wax

that doesn’t end. By Michele Chabin

The new National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia presents a moving historical collection

Traveling by Train Through Sephardic Spain.....................................................14 Take a ride to five cities with a rich Jewish past. By Curt Leviant and Erika Pfeifer Leviant


Na’amat usa Officers

President’s Message

PRESIDENT Elizabeth Raider

by Elizabeth Raider.......................


Take Action!.......................................................... 18

VICE PRESIDENTS Gail Simpson Chellie Goldwater Wilensky

Na’amat News......................................................... 19


Heart to Heart: I Was a Chained Woman................. 20 by Jeanette Friedman

FINANCIAL SECRETARY Irene Hack RECORDING SECRETARY Norma Kirkell Sobel Na’amat usa Chairs Harriet Green National Funds, Gifts, Bequests Lynn Wax Club and Council Fund-raising Na’amat Woman (ISSN 0888-191X) is published quarterly: fall, winter, spring, summer by Na’amat USA, 505 Eighth Ave., Suite 2302 New York, NY 10018 (212) 563-5222. $5.00 of the membership dues is for one year’s subscription. Nonmember subscriptions: $10.00. Signed articles represent the opinions of the authors and not necessarily those of Na’amat USA or its editors. Periodicals class postage paid at New York, NY, and additional mailing offices. Postmaster, please send address changes to Na’amat Woman, 505 Eighth Ave., Suite 2302, New York, NY 10018. E-mail: Web site:


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Our cover: Jewish women comics artists reveal themselves, from top left, clockwise: Aline KominskyCrumb, Miriam Katin, Ariel Schrag, Lauren Weinstein, Miss Lasko-Gross, Ilana Zeffren, Sarah Lazarovic, Sharon Rudahl, Miriam Libicki, Sarah Lightman, Sarah Glidden, Laurie Sandell; center: illustration by Vanessa Davis from Make Me a Woman. See story on page 26.

Mission Statement The mission of Na’amat USA is to enhance the status of women and children in Israel and the United States as part of a worldwide progressive Jewish women’s organization. Its purpose is to help Na’amat Israel provide educational and social services, including day care, vocational training, legal aid for women, absorption of new

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Book & Art Reviews: Jewish Comics....................... 24 Around the Country............................................... 28

Na’amat Usa Area Offices


immigrants, community centers, and centers for the prevention and treatment of domestic violence. Na’amat USA advocates on issues relating to women’s rights, the welfare of children, education and the United States-Israel relationship. Na’amat USA also helps strengthen Jewish and Zionist life in communities throughout the United States.


Eastern Area 505 Eighth Ave., Suite 2302 New York, NY 10018 212-563-4962 Southeast Area 4400 N. Federal Hwy., Suite 11 Boca Raton, FL 33431 561-368-8898 Midwest Area 10024 N. Skokie Blvd., Suite 226 Skokie, IL 60077 847-329-7172 Western Area 16161 Ventura Blvd., #101 Encino, CA 91436 818-981-1298


ur 85th anniversary year ended with two successful campaigns — one for Life Membership at $185 and the other, a recommitment gift of $85 from current Life Members. Thank you to all who supported these campaigns — look for your names in this issue! As we begin our 86th year, I am very pleased to tell you that Na’amat USA is honored to have Mayim Bialik, the well-known actress and activist for Jewish women’s issues, as our celebrity spokesperson. She has a starring role in the Emmy-winning show “The Big Bang Theory” and has appeared in many other television programs. She also holds a Ph.D. degree in neuroscience. Bialik is endorsing Na’amat ’s contribution to serving Israel through a public service announcement, which will be released in a variety of ways, including e-blasts, social media outlets and DVDs. During this past year, the national board of Na’amat USA has expanded our Internet participation with a redesigned Web site showcasing information about our organization’s activities, projects and events, including some articles from our award-winning Na’amat Woman magazine. We are also making use of e-blasts as another means of communication. Na’amat USA members who are e-mail users have already received several e-blasts — one for Sukkot and the second welcoming Gilad Shalit home. (If we don’t have your e-mail address, please send it to We have received a very good response to these enhanced ways of communicating, including attracting new members and donations. As on-

line possibilities expand, we will continue to find effective ways to introduce ourselves to a broader base of the community and to reach out to our own members. While Na’amat USA increases its use of networking/ online technology, we must remember that our volunteer membership is the strong engine that drives our mission in Israel and nurtures our close bond with Na’amat Israel. Our members have always been the source of our success in promoting our ideals as well as maintaining generous financial support. The national board is also encouraging a renewed emphasis on developing local leadership; plans for one-day leadership seminars in several key cities are underway for this coming year. Na’amat USA is fortunate to have dedicated and dynamic women who support our organization but who are sometimes reluctant to see leadership qualities in themselves. Through these leadership training seminars, we hope to encourage more participation on a broader level by utilizing our members’ special talents. Despite the many challenges facing Israel, including increased rocket attacks that have the capability of reaching farther than ever before into Israel, Na’amat Israel is always improving the programs and services that Na’amat USA helps to maintain through our financial support. Na’amat Israel’s agenda for this coming year includes plans for several new day care centers, new courses

As we light the Hanukkah candles this year, let this be a reminder of the many ways we bring a light of hope through education, advocacy and compassion as members of Naa ’ mat USA. for working women to help them reach their career goals, specialized studies for students in our technological and agricultural high schools, and increased counseling for victims of domestic violence and abuse — all part of our extensive network of social services and programs available to Israeli citizens. We can take great pride in knowing that we contribute to the well being of countless Israelis on a daily basis and are partners in creating and maintaining new and innovative services to meet the changing needs of a growing society. As we light the Hanukkah candles this year, let this be a reminder of the many ways we bring a light of hope through education, advocacy and compassion as members of Na’amat USA. My best wishes to you and your families for a Happy Hanukkah!

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Talk About Jewish Feminism Feminism has transformed American Jewish cultural and religious life over the past 40 years. What have these changes meant to the older and younger generations of women? by RAHEL MUSLEAH


hen Sandy Sasso entered rabbinical school in 1969, women were just beginning their struggle to become rabbis and cantors and to participate equally with men in Jewish ritual, liturgy and leadership. A woman wearing a tallit was unheard of, books about Jewish women didn’t exist, and inclusive God language and Miriam’s cups were not yet created. Sasso’s daughter, Dr. Debora Herold, doesn’t grapple with the issues her mother strove to overcome. “I am grateful for her accomplishments. She fought the fight so I don’t feel like I have to,” says Herold, 32. “I don’t have to worry or think twice about the roles Jewish women play.” In the past 40 years, feminism has transformed the landscape of Jewish life, evolving from a battleground to the norm in many non-Orthodox communities [see box on page 6]. Paradoxically, its very success seems to have left

complacency in its wake, especially in liberal communities, with women contemplating the next challenges. Among young Orthodox women, though, the fight is still on; and other groups of activists are confronting issues like gay and lesbian rights, environmental progress, the glass ceiling in Jewish organizations, diversity and economic justice. Some are trying to balance the traditional and the egalitarian to find a comfortable place of their own. Conversations with pairs of mothers and daughters reveal an anecdotal portrait of intergenerational Jewish feminism, illuminating the movement’s impact and the challenges that remain. While many women of Sasso’s generation identify strongly with feminist ideology, younger women often balk at the term, associating it with bra-burning, anti-male militants — even while they concede that they benefit from the revolutionary ways in which it has reshaped society.


sso Sandy Sa

Sasso Debora Herold "Sandy

Rabbi Sandy Sasso has been a role model for her daughter Debora Herold, a professor of psychology.


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Though she was not an ardent feminist when she began her studies at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia, Sandy Sasso recalls being fascinated by the emerging movement. “I bought every issue of Ms. magazine thinking they’d address my issues, but they never did.” As she began studying Jewish texts, she found her voice was missing there as well. And when she wanted to write her dissertation at Temple University on women in Juda-

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ism (Temple and RRC had a joint program), the general academic community discouraged her. “I was told: ‘You don’t want to be identified with this issue. Write about something serious and important.’ I regret not doing it.” Sasso, now 64, has spent the years since then trying to bridge feminism and Judaism. “Jewish feminism is the opportunity for women to be engaged in all aspects of Jewish life,” she says. She was the first woman rabbi to serve a Conservative congregation (Beth-El Zedeck in Indianapolis), together with her husband, Rabbi Dennis Sasso. She is probably best known for her numerous children’s books on spirituality, midrash and the image of God. The Sassos were also the first couple to create a birth ceremony for daughters that welcomed them into the covenant of Israel (Brit B’not Yisrael); it is now widely practiced. She worked for inclusive language in the siddur and the Haggadah. “It wasn’t enough to have loose leaf pages. The words have to be between the hard covers of a prayer book that you kiss when it falls — something that’s not easy to toss away.” Sasso helped write prayers for birth, weaning and other phases of a woman’s lifecycle that traditional prayers did not address. Her role model, she says, was Bertram Korn, her rabbi growing up at Knesset Israel in Philadelphia, who supported and encouraged her. Her mother, a homemaker who was active in the community, set an example with her outspokenness on behalf of what she believed. Sasso passed on a similar

Hinda Eisen "Susan

As the ritual director at Temple Emanuel in Providence, Rhode Island, Hinda Eisen, 24, fields all kinds of questions. Recently, a woman in the morning minyan asked her if there was a misheberach (prayer for an occasion) for a woman in labor that she could recite for

her daughter-in-law, who was about to be induced. “You can search our siddur and you’ll never find that misheberach,” observes Hinda, “but there was one written in the 1500s.” The next morning Hinda recited the misheberach at the minyan ( hebrew/9tfilat.pdf). Judaism has not really arrived at full egalitarianism, posits Hinda, a cantorial student at Hebrew College in Boston. That would mean “women doing men’s things and men doing women’s things” equally. “A great women’s culture got left by the curb when we started striving for egalitarianism,” says Hinda, noting that women wrote prayers (tehines) for rituals in and out of the home that have been collected and translated from the vernacular into Hebrew by scholars. Men also wrote prayers for women to say. “Men should embrace that. It’s easily integrated into our daily public ritual but it hasn’t been.” She tries to impress on the girls she teaches for their b’not mitzvah the importance of wearing tallit and tefillin but is angered by the fact that the Conservative movement has not officially supported the obligation of that ritual for women. “There’s not a word in the [Conservative] Sim Shalom siddur about it,” says Hinda, who has been wearing tallit and tefillin since she became bat mitzvah. “It doesn’t have the institutional stamp, so it feels like an extra step — women can say ‘I’m not ready for that’ — when it could be normalized.” Balancing that egalitarian belief with living “comfortably in the traditional” leads to some ambivalence at how far the feminist pendulum has swung. “It’s important to me that I’m female, and I look forward to marriage and birth and the spirituality that comes with that lifestyle,” says Hinda. But given her simultaneous assertiveness and anxiety that some pieces of Jewish feminism have not been resolved, she voices hesitation to address additional issues like gay marriage. “I’m concerned we’re being rushed,” she explains. “Jewish feminism needs to be separate from social feminism. Just because something is happening in the contemporary world doesn’t mean it has to happen immediately in our [Jewish] courts of law.” Hinda grew up among women who didn’t consider themselves femi-

nists. Her paternal grandmother, Norma Eisen, earned her Ph.D. degree in physics in 1956 and taught at Brooklyn College for 40 years, but she resented feminism. Her maternal grandmother, Roslyn Schor, valued her role as a homemaker; she was a bookkeeper by proCourtesy, Susan Eisen

determination to her own daughter. At her bat mitzvah, Herold declared: “There’s nothing you can’t do because you’re a woman. There’s nothing you have to do because you’re a woman.” Today, Herold is a professor of psychology at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Her rabbi was also her role model — she just happened to be her mother as well. Yet, Herold says, she doesn’t think about herself as a feminist on a daily basis, partly because of the negative images it evokes for her. “That’s not to say I’m not one,” she adds. “The things I do and say are in line with what feminism is all about.” Her mother’s understanding of God had a profound impact on Herold — and she, in turn, influenced her mother’s direction. At a Jewish camp Herold attended as a child, she was asked to draw a picture of God. “I turned in a blank page. They said I had to draw something — so I drew an old man. That’s when my mother says she knew she had to give people another image of God. I read my two boys [ages 4 and 16 months] her books all the time. They automatically think about God as Friend, Mother, Father, Companion.” Herold disagreed with many of the traditional perspectives about the role of women at the community day school she attended, but because she is quiet by nature, she “didn’t typically create a ruckus.” Jewish feminism has to take further strides to become “even more mainstream” in some communities, Herold explains, adding that feminism has universalized some of the issues among men and women struggling to balance family and career. For Sasso, the list that demands attention includes righting the mistreatment of women around the world, equal pay and opportunity for women in leadership roles, and addressing the imbalance between the sense of obligation in ritual for girls and boys.

In many ways, Hinda Eisen, a cantorial student, has been a role model for her mother, Susan Eisen.

fession. Hinda’s mother, Susan Eisen, 51, is a native of Bella Abzug’s Brooklyn congressional district. “My parents were anti-feminist but not necessarily anti-egalitarian,” observes Eisen. “There was always an expectation that my sisters and I would go to college and have professions until we got married and had children.” Eisen has a degree in computer science from Brooklyn College, stayed at home for part of Hinda’s childhood and then took on part-time and full-time jobs. By the time she was a secondgrader, Hinda had already announced that she wanted to be rabbi. “I don’t see why not,” she recalls her mother’s reply. “My mother never said, ‘You can’t do this, you’re a girl,’ ” Hinda recalls. Yet, more than anyone, Hinda’s father has been her role model. From a young age, she went with him to services at their traditional Conservative synagogue in New Jersey, led Kabbalat Shabbat when she was nine — the first time a female led services in her synagogue — and was gradually allowed to participate to a greater degree. Her other role models include Orthodox feminist Blu Greenberg and women in her community who are rabbis and educators. In many respects, says Eisen, Hinda has been her role model. Eisen began

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rg ra Tybe sy, Shif Courte

Shifra Tyberg, a family physician, and her daughter Hannah Wenger, a teacher, are feminists in the Orthodox world.

wearing a tallit after Hinda’s bat mitzvah, and after her daughter Sara’s bat mitzvah four years later, she added tefillin “to make the statement that in our family we are all obligated to do this.” Because Eisen has alopecia, which causes baldness, she always wears a bandana, and received rabbinic assurance that it was halachically permissible to wear tefillin over the bandana — much like it would be to wear it over a toupee. “It was a very big deal to figure out how to wear tefillin on my head publicly,” she notes. Eisen reads Torah and haftarah, can lead services and has participated in adult Jewish learning. “I have the desire to catch up and set an example,” she says. Making all women feel obligated to participate in all the traditions is the biggest challenge Jewish feminism faces,


she says, echoing her daughter. “There’s a difference between men knowing they have to and women feeling they have a choice.” Her role models — Blu Greenberg, Rabba Sara Hurwitz (the first female rabbi in the Orthodox community) and Rabbi Chaya Baker, a Masorti rabbi in Israel — appeal to her sense of meshing tradition and modernity.

Shifra Tyberg " Hannah Wenger

Shifra Tyberg, 49, a family physician and managing partner of a small group practice in Columbus, Ohio, lives a modern Orthodox lifestyle. Feminism, she says, has enabled her to work in a career she loves, for equal pay and respect. “I was unaware that I was a feminist at all until my three daughters pointed out that I was, just by my behavior. In my work life, I was never limited by my gender, and so in my religious life, I got involved where I could.” Her participation in the chevra kedisha (burial society), as a kallah teacher for prospective brides, and leader in women’s Torah and megillah readings and Bible classes not only excited her personally, but also provided an example for her family and other women in the community. She, her daughter Hannah and four of Hannah’s friends studied the women of the Bible every Shabbat afternoon for three years before the girls became bat mitzvah.  Many in the Orthodox community

The Three Stages of Jewish Feminism

abbi Elyse Goldstein, author of New Jewish Feminism (Jewish Lights), frames the history of the movement in three stages. “Equal access,” from the 1970s to early ’80s, was concurrent with general feminism and was centered in liberal Judaism. “All we wanted was to be like them. They wear a tallit. We wear a tallit. They can be rabbis. We should be rabbis.” The second stage, which she calls “specialization,” lasted another decade, from the 1980s to mid-1990s. Rejecting the idea of being “honorary men,” women began celebrating their distinctiveness; women’s liturgy, midrash and rituals flowered. Today, Goldstein says, Jewish feminism is in its third, “normative” stage — but it is experiencing a midlife crisis. “We don’t know where we are going. Jewish feminism is trying to find its reason.” Just because it looks normal, she notes, doesn’t mean it is normal. “People think, ‘Okay, we did it! We have a woman rabbi, a woman president. Enough with women in


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have yet to understand that women’s participation in ritual and Talmud study is both halachically acceptable as well as driven by a “true desire to get closer to God,” points out Tyberg. “If a woman wants to say the blessing over the lulav and etrog, pray with a minyan, or say kaddish, she should not be made to feel like a pariah.” Her children, she says, are frustrated and stressed by the contrast between what they can expect from their secular lives and their religious lives. “Unlike me, who is able to find joy in what I can do, they seem to be angered by what they can’t. They expect to be much more involved in their community’s public life, and to change attitudes and practices within the structure of halacha. I am happy where I am in my religion…. I see things changing, whereas they think it is just moving too slowly.” Her daughters have influenced her attitudes toward the language of prayer and the perspective of Torah stories that are addressed to men only, she says. Tyberg’s oldest daughter, Hannah Wenger, 23, proudly calls herself a Jewish feminist. “So many people are terrified of the word — especially when it is juxtaposed with ‘Jewish.’ I feel both exasperated and hopeful that soon everyone will own the word with as much pride as I do,” says Wenger. “As a woman, I cannot but help being a feminist. My Judaism simply calls that out even more strongly.” Wenger’s moment of awakening

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the Bible! Let’s have men’s groups now.’ It’s almost like Barack Obama getting elected and people saying, ‘See, there’s no more racism. We think we’ve won the battle because pink tallitot are being sold in the streets of Jerusalem. We have to ask a different question: not ‘Can we do this?’ but ‘Why is it that Judaism does this?’” Jewish feminism is alive and well in the Orthodox movement, provoking just such foundational questions, says Goldstein. “Is Judaism built on a system of patriarchy? If you take it away, will it undermine the whole system? What will Judaism look like then? It’s a terrifying and tender question. Since Orthodox women are asking it, it will be asked all over.” Other frontiers ahead, she says, focus on issues of peace and patriarchy in Israeli society and on the politics of gender and diversity in the Jewish community. “I’m an old feminist,” says Goldstein. “Our issues were black and white. Today’s are grayer.”

Myisha Kinberg "Clare

Feminism is a core part of Clare Kinberg’s identity. Yet it’s also one of the hardest to articulate to her 13-year-old daughter, Myisha Kinberg. “It’s one of the biggest challenges of parenting,” says Kinberg, 55, who for 21 years served as editor of the feminist Jewish journal Bridges. “I want to communicate a sense of Jewishness and spirituality that’s authentic to me. What’s authentic to me is not necessarily meaningful to my kids, and coming to terms with that is a continual challenge.” In planning for Myisha’s havdalah bat mitzvah this past summer, Kinberg

Clare Kin berg

namesake Hannah, but the prostitute Rahav in the Book of Joshua: “She shielded the spies, protected her family and shaped the course of national events.” Wenger champions a Rahav-type activism in gaining control of women’s ritual and public roles. Traditionalists, she observes, often defend gender roles in Judaism by saying they’re of equal importance, just different. “Those roles place women in domestic spaces without a voice, and men in public roles where they determine what happens in the private sphere — in kashrut and education, for example. That’s rather unequal…and unfair. The Jewish community should use women’s talents in organizing, leading and teaching.” In fact, Wenger envisions a chain in which learning opportunities for women are vastly enhanced, ensuring that “women are taught by brilliant, educated women, and that their programs are led by brilliant, educated women who are so astounding that the men’s yeshivot begin to ask them in for guest lectures and then as teachers, bridging the gap between male and female Jewish education. When well-educated women represent women’s interests in halachic, political and social spheres, and the community accepts them as leaders, their decisions will filter back into the everyday Jewish woman’s life.”


took place in seventh grade. Having become bat mitzvah, her mother insisted that she stay at Shabbat services, whereas Wenger enjoyed helping the women in the kitchen arrange the kiddush. “One Shabbat I realized that all my buddies — the guys I’d hung out with until then — were on the bimah. One was laining [reading Torah], a second getting an aliyah, a third doing gelilah [wrapping the Torah]. And the rabbi shook all their hands, and as they went to sit down, so did the men. The only way I could score that kind of communal approval was by arranging brownies on a platter. I felt a deep-burning anger, not toward God, but toward the community that had so screwed up what He meant.” From there it was “just a hop, skip and a jump” to wishing she could make kiddush without overhearing snide remarks, opening a volume of Talmud without encountering male curiosity and suspicion, and learning Torah without coming upon texts that assume “not only an all-male readership, but an all-male religion.” Wenger graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in English literature, a certificate in gender studies and a minor in philosophy. Currently an English teacher with the U.S.-Norway Fulbright Foundation, she finds herself most comfortable in “egalitarian Orthodox” congregations that include women yet still use Jewish law to determine how that will be done. “I’ve never yet found the shul in which I’m completely comfortable,” says Wenger. Jewish feminism has provided Wenger with the language to talk about her attitudes toward God ritual, prayer and Torah, as well as explanations for her anger, and the realization that she is not alone in feeling it. She channeled her activism positively by helping to found the Women’s Jewish Alliance at Maryland, which became a nationwide collegiate program of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA) with the guidance of JOFA member Laura Shaw-Frank. Wenger finds the writings of religious feminists compelling and admires Steven Greenberg, the first openly Gay Orthodox rabbi. His grappling with sexuality and tradition parallels her own struggles as a woman and a Jew, she says. Her favorite biblical heroine? Not her

Myisha Kinberg, a recent bat mitzvah, is shown with her moms, Patti Cowan (center) and Clare Kinberg.

hoped to use Marcia Falk’s feminist blessings, which resonate with Kinberg “spiritually, intellectually and as a feminist. The language matters a lot to me. I can barely say the traditional blessings that speak of God as male.” But Myisha wasn’t so sure. She didn’t want to say ruach (spirit) instead of Adonai. After some discussion, Myisha recited one traditional and two Falk blessings in Hebrew and all of Falk’s English translations. “My daughter’s sense of Judaism is that each family creates its own ritual ‘as needed,’ ” notes Kinberg. Kinberg didn’t grow up feeling that she had to choose between Judaism and feminism. Her older brother, a Reconstructionist rabbi, influenced her feminist understanding of Judaism. “Judaism always seemed flexible enough to grow and change as feminist consciousness was growing,” says Kinberg. Early on, she identified with Jewish women who were political activists, socialists and writers, from radical anarchist Emma Goldman to Hadassah founder Henrietta Szold and philosopher Hannah Arendt. The recognition and acceptance of diversity in the Jewish community tops her list of concerns. “My children are African-American and adopted, my partner is Creole, and I’m Ashkenazic. We haven’t found a congregation that is racially diverse enough for us to be comfortable and become a part of. That’s very hard.” The community that means the most to them is the Jewish Multiracial Network. Myisha (which means “life” in Swahili) even made a movie about it for her bat mitzvah. continued on page 22

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The new National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia presents a moving historical collection that doesn’t end. by MICHELE CHABIN


ou would think, given the Jewish people’s long, rich lineage in the United States, that someone would have created a Jewish history museum a century ago. In fact, there has been a museum of American Jewish history only since 1976. It was housed on the grounds of

the historic Mikveh Israel Synagogue in Philadelphia, which was founded in 1740. The problem was that very few people knew that the tiny museum — the only one specifically designed to chronicle Jewish life in the United States — existed. Visitors to Philadelphia were happily surprised

Photos, courtesy of the National Museum of American Jewish History

The Amazing American Jewish Story

to discover it, but didn’t make a special trip from, say, New York or Washington to view its collection. The same cannot be said of the beautiful new National Museum of American Jewish History (NMAJH), which opened in 2010 on Independence Mall.   Constructed of glass, stone and steel, the museum’s ultra-modern home seemed to me at first an unlikely place to house a historical collection spanning 350 years. But then, seeing how the Jews who moved to the New World enjoyed the freedom offered by America to innovate and reinvent themselves, the sleek design made perfect sense. The architecture is full of symbolism, observes Ivy Barsky, the museum’s director. While the steel and terra cotta provide “sturdy stability,” she says, the beautiful glass core “has the

implication of being fragile.” She adds: “Freedom” — the museum’s central theme — “is something we’re always protecting and mindful of.” The museum’s contemporary home is fitting, Barsky explains, because NMAJH is “a historical collection that doesn’t end. We’re not talking about Jewish American life as only part of history. It’s part of the present and the future as well.”     Our family decided to visit the museum after checking out the reviews on the TripAdvisor Web site. Seeing words like “upbeat,” “interactive” and “worthwhile,” my husband and I then had to decide whether to include our Israeleducated 9-year-old twins in the adventure (our family lives in Jerusalem). We agreed that the kids would join us but that my husband would take them outside if they got bored. We started the tour backwards. It was lunchtime, and there aren’t many options for kosher food in Philadelphia’s historic district, so we began with a stop at the museum cafeteria, which offers excellent ko-

sher food. Immediately afterward, we visited the adjoining gift shop, where we swooned over the many beautiful items for sale. It was apparent, almost from the start, that the museum might not interest some  children under the age of 10 or 12, unless they were on an organized school trip and had studied American history. Despite the curators’ many attempts to interest kids (there are numerous videos, and a few exhibits are designed especially for children), their heavy reliance on the written word failed to enthrall our energetic boys. When my husband took the boys to Independence Mall, I was able to explore the museum in peace. My guide, Ilana Blumenthal, the museum’s bubbly public relations associate, took me to the fourth floor, where the American Jewish story begins.   The top floor, which focuses on the “Foundations of Freedom” from the mid-1600s to 1880, starts with the arrival of North America’s first permanent Jewish settlers to New Amsterdam (New York) in 1654. Refugees from Brazil, they joined Jacob Barsimon, a Jewish merchant who had arrived a few weeks earlier, in establishing North America’s first Jewish community.   It was an uphill battle. Peter Stuyvesant, New Amsterdam’s governor, considered Jews “blasphemers of the name of Christ” and didn’t want to give them

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The Contemporary Issues Forum is a multimedia installation that allows visitors to participate in a discussion about issues facing the Jewish community.

sanctuary. The Dutch West India Company, which administered the colony, overruled Stuyvesant (Jewish merchants would bring business, they believed) but prohibited Jews from opening stores, owning real estate and worshiping publicly. On display is a 1665 letter from the Dutch West India Company to Peter Stuyvesant. (Later, the British authorities lifted the prayer ban.)     A tiny minority in North America (there were about 2,000 Jews at the end of the 18th century), the pioneers navigated between their Jewish identity/ religious observance and the wider nonJewish world. Often without formally trained religious leaders to guide them, the earliest Jewish communities nonetheless acquired Torah scrolls, followed kashrut and established congregations. Jews often looked outside their small communities to find a spouse. Even so, between 1776 and 1840, about 28 percent of all known marriages involving Jews were intermarriages, the curators note. Among the many artifacts that catch my eye are a large-scale model of the Touro Synagogue (Rhode Island) as it was in 1763; and the “Richmond Prayer,” written by a Congregation Beth Shalome in 10

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Richmond, Virginia, to President Washington. Walking through the museum, it’s exhilarating to see how extensively Jews were affected by, and contributed to, the political, social and cultural events taking place around them; they took part in pivotal events throughout American history. Before and during the Revolutionary War of 1776, Jews and non-Jews alike had to decide whether to support the Tories or the Patriots. Hayim Salomon, a Polish Jewish immigrant, helped sponsor the Patriots.   I was intrigued to learn that 8,000 to 10,000 Jews took up arms during the Civil War, most of them in support of the Union Army. As early as 1856, Rabbi David Einhorn railed against slavery while some other Jews condemned the abolitionist movement. The curators don’t gloss over the fact that roughly two percent of American slave owners were Jewish. While I had known that Jews had settled in the West, I hadn’t realized that some had crossed the continent in wagon trains headed for places like Colorado, California, Oregon and Utah.

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Many were attracted by the Gold Rush. Among the wonderful artifacts in this section are photos of immigrant Julius Meyer with the Native American leaders Red Cloud and Sitting Bull. Meyer built a curiosity shop and museum called the Indian Wigwam and is believed to have spoken six Indian dialects. The hardships pioneers of this era faced are brought to life by an actual covered wagon. Here, children are encouraged to explore the wagon, don pioneer clothes, and read about the period. My kids — when they returned to the museum — loved it. As Jews explored America, their religious practices evolved. Following the Civil War, the Reform movement that began in the 1820s gradually developed into the predominant form of American Judaism. Orthodox congregations, in contrast, maintained the strict separation between men and women during prayer but often used Hebrew-English prayer books. The third floor exhibition “Dreams of Freedom” covers the years 1880 to 1945, beginning with the mass emigration of Jews from Europe. In 1880, about 250,000 Jews lived in the United

A cigarette card depicts Charlie Goldman, famed boxing trainer, 1911.

States. By 1945, the number had grown to 5 million, and Jews had reshaped their community. We are reminded that it was no picnic traveling, often in steerage, from Europe, only to be overly scrutinized by American immigration officials. Nor was it easy to find work and feed one’s family after clearing passport control. The artifacts from this period may evoke nostalgia in anyone whose parents or grandparents immigrated during this period. A photo of hundreds of Jewish immigrants waiting outside a hotel in Galveston, Texas, serves as a reminder that Ellis Island was only one point of entry into the country. Another reminder is the museum’s map of the 48 states — in Yiddish. The experience of integration into American life is simply but beautifully captured by a display of colorful seltzer bottles; a 1924 instruction booklet in Yiddish on how to make lemon Jell-O; and a ritual slaughterer’s knife with a sheath painted like an American flag. There is a tribute to garment workers and union activists, a large percentage of whom were women. Many, we’re told, viewed

political activism as an integral part of their Jewish identities. The famed International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU), which was led by Jews and had a largely female constituency, “developed into a powerful voice for American laborers” by negotiating higher wages and a safer workplace. During World War I, nearly 250,000 American Jews served in the military while those at home raised “unprecedented sums” to help their European brethren. A post-war fundraising poster reads, “Our Boys Freed Them. Won’t you Feed Them?” American anti-Semitism intensified during Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and Rev. Dr. Martin and after the First World Luther King Jr. march for civil rights in 1965. War, when the fear of The years prior to Communism and “subversives” (including foreign-born Jews) World War II were also peaked. The exhibition includes a letter the time when a growing typed on Yale University stationery de- number of American Jews tailing a plan to fix the quota of incoming began pushing for a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The Jewish students. The section on “Jewish Identities, Jewish National Fund purAmerican Cultures,” is a fun and fasci- chased land and planted nating look at the explosion of culture trees with the money people by Jewish performers, from Yiddish Envelope seals from the 1970s theater star Celia Adler to Moe, Curly protest the oppression Howard and Larry Fine, better known of Soviet Jews. as the Three Stooges.

This typewriter was used in Steven Spielberg’s film, “Schindler’s List.” John Elder

Shohet's knife with sheath, New York, ca. 1915.

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Barbra Streisand wore this costume in the film “Yentl.” A 1951 guide to koshering meat from Diamond Crystal.

donated to the organization’s sky-blue tzedakah boxes. Unlike Holocaust museums, NMAJH tackles World War II and the Shoah from a uniquely American Jewish perspective. The war-related rooms reveal how Rabbi Stephen S. Wise and others tried to convince the American government that Jews were being slaughtered in Europe. It also shows how very personally American Jewish servicemen and women took the war against Hitler. In a letter to his parents, Master Sergeant Fred Friendly, the son of Jewish immigrants who later headed CBS News, described what it was like to liberate a concentration camp. “I saw the living skeletons.… If there had been no America, we, all of us, might well have carried granite at Mauthausen.” On the second floor’s “Choices and Challenges of Freedom” (1946 to the present), we see the joy American Jews felt over the founding of Israel and the fear generated by McCarthyism. Jewish Americans, some buoyed by the GI Bill, 12

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enrolled in college and moved to the suburbs. Women’s roles in the synagogue expanded, and bat mitzvah ceremonies became common even in some Orthodox circles. As Jews became more affluent, they established hotels in the Catskills and in Florida where they could relax in a Jewish environment. Another Jewish invention — Jewish camping — is lovingly recalled through photos and kids’ letters. In a handwritten note, Lori, a young camper, writes that “camp is fun,” while an unidentified child (a first- or secondgrader, judging from the handwriting), writes, “I cry all the time. Please take me home. I swear I won’t stay.” The “Freedom Now” section recalls the central role Jews played in the civil rights movement, while “Feminism” explores how Jewish women like Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem and Congresswoman Bella Abzug fought for and won greater equality for women. “Seeking Equality” chronicles how, after demanding equality in the public sphere, Jewish women did the same in the Jewish religious world. A tallit embroidered with a flower pattern and a matching tallit bag with the name “Shoshana,” belonging to a female cantor, reveals just how far women’s roles in Judaism have evolved in recent times. The tour ends with “Only in America,” a sort of hall-of-fame photography and video tribute to 18 Jewish Americans who “illustrate what can be accomplished in a world of possibility.” The list includes Golda Meir, Steven Spielberg, Albert Einstein, Emma Lazarus, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Jonas Salk and Sandy Koufax. I look forward to the time when I can return to the museum and watch every one of these short biographical films.   Jonathan Sarna, a Brandeis University professor of American Jewish history and NMAJH’s chief historian, points out that these celebrated Jews come from various disciplines and religious backgrounds. “They

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underscore the diversity of the American Jewish experience,” Sarna emphasizes. “We have a very diverse community.” Although the museum ends with the spotlight on a bunch of superstars, its main emphasis “is on the Jewish experience of the common person,” says Steven M. Cohen, a sociologist whose work focuses on the American Jewish community. Cohen, who is director of the Berman Jewish Policy Archive at NYU, sees this as one of the museum’s strengths. “As I recall, we don’t see much [in the museum] of Jewish leaders coming to

“Shoshana II,” a prayer shawl for a female cantor; embroidered silk, and lace, by Renee Goldin Fischman, 1992.

Chaifeigel Bernstein used this churn in her home on the Lower East Side of New York, ca. 1910.

see the President.” In contrast, to recognize their contributions, there is an entire exhibition dethough many people are hard at voted to Jewish camping,   “which work at that.” is a Jewish communal event experiRecalling Barbra Streisand’s inenced by the Jewish rank and file.” clusion in the Hall of Fame, I asked Sarna says the new museum, Barsky why the performer had been which cost $100 million to build, chosen for such an honor. “We was created only after American highlight Barbra Streisand because Jews had reached a point “when she didn’t change her name or her they wanted to share their story nose, and she’s won universal acwith a larger audience. They also ceptance for her incredible talents,” saw this museum as an expression Barsky points out. Furthermore, of gratitude to the country that “We know she cares a lot about her made this all possible.” Though Jewish heritage.” the majority of visitors are Jewish, What trends will the museum Sarna adds, thousands of non-Jews feel compelled to focus on in, say, have visited as well. 20 years? The fact that the museum was Cohen expects a great deal of built on Independence Mall, the emphasis on the fragmentation first seat of American government of American Jewry. “I would hope and the place where the Declarathere would be an emphasis on the tion of Independence was signed, simultaneous growth of Orthodoxy “is highly significant,” Sarna oband the disappearance of a Jewish serves. “This is really a statement connection among the grandchilof the significance of American dren of those who intermarried,” liberty to Jews” and the realization he says. Commissioned by B’nai B’rith, “Religious Liberty” was of the freedom given to the Jewish executed by Sir Moses Ezekiel, an American Jewish Cohen also expects to see an sculptor, and dedicated in 1876. It was moved to its people, “a persecuted minority.” exploration of the increasing “fluidThe museum, Sarna continues, present location in front of the museum in 2010. ity” in the Jewish community, “the is an exploration “of what it was moving in and out of being Jewish,” about America” that allowed the Jew- of integration and dual identity.” depending on the situation. “There are ish community “to develop in the way Barsky, like Sarna, notes that the people who identify themselves as Jewthat it did.” At the same time, “it does museum’s location speaks volumes ish one day and non-Jewish the next,” not gloss over the less happy parts” of about American Jewry’s place in the the sociologist says. He attributes much American Jewish life, including Jewish country’s history. “The fact that we are of this boundary hopping to intermarslave traders and anti-Semitism. “We a visible part of that story is very mov- riage. “With all the intermarriage in the are committed to telling the story, warts ing to all of us,” she says. past 20 years, there are lots of people and all.” And women, Barsky adds, are cen- who claim to be Jewish by virtue of Sarna notes that the museum was tral to American Jewish experience. “I their familial relationships with Jews,” able to procure many “treasures” held think more than any other Jewish mu- and not because they are halachically by private collectors “that no one had seum that I know of, we were mindful Jewish.   ever seen before. For people who love of telling women’s history, and not just The boundaries in Jewish Amerithe older period especially, these are re- in the ’60s feminist movement.” ca are becoming more porous, Cohen markable objects.” Jewish women made important points out. “I know Jews who identify Asked whether she has any personal contributions even in Colonial times, themselves as Jewish and Buddhist, or favorites in the museum’s collection Barsky emphasizes. “Take Rebecca Jewish and Catholic. Some people say, of 25,000 objects, director Barsky de- Gratz,” the director says, referring to a ‘I’m Jewish through my father and Chrisscribes the 1789 Prayer for the Country prominent educator and social activist tian through my mother.’ penned by members of the Richmond, who collaborated on the first American “For me, these are amazing stories,” Virginia, Jewish community. The prayer, school textbook for Jewish children. Cohen says. which celebrates the ratification of the Gratz began Jewish education. “The I agree.  Constitution, is written in an acrostic whole concept of Jewish school is hers.” style, in which the initial letters of the Jewish women were key players in lines form the word “Washington” in Jewish and non-Jewish education, the Michele Chabin is a journalist living in Hebrew. “It’s fabulous. It really shows labor movement, fund-raising for Jew- Jerusalem. She covers the Middle East for the integration of Jewish life with Amer- ish causes, and in the arts, among other The New York Jewish Week and other ican life,” Barsky observes. “The Yiddish endeavors, notes Barsky. Unfortunately, publications. She wrote “Part-Time Aliyah” map of America says the same. It speaks “scholarship perhaps hasn’t caught up in our fall 2011 issue. WINTER 2011/2012

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Traveling by Train Through Sephardic Spain Take a ride to five cities with a rich Jewish past. by CURT LEVIANT and ERIKA PFEIFER LEVIANT Photos by Erika Leviant


s soon as we said converted to a church, we’d be traveling but early in the 20th cenin Spain, the first tury, both synagogues thing people asked was: were declared national Will you be renting a car? monuments and preNever, I said. Who needs served as museums with the hassle — the morass no religious affiliation. of city traffic, the constant Jews flourished ecostopping for directions in a nomically and culturally foreign language, the hunt in Toledo from the 11th for elusive parking places, to the 13th centuries. the frustration with conThey owned fields, vinestant one-way streets. yards and shops; engaged We chose to go by in crafts and did business train, for the comfort, with Christians. But durspeed and luxury of travel, ing the regional massacres and the unimpeded, relaxed of 1391, the Toledano Jews Interior of a former Toledo synagogue built in the late 1100s, and safe way of viewing the were murdered and their now called Santa Maria la Blanca. beautiful countryside. And synagogues destroyed. by securing a Eurail Pass, a Intriguing legends traveler can change itineraries at will. Jewish, Arabic and Christian. Although never die, like the existence of keys to Our trip to five cities with a Sephardic 25,000 Jews lived here before 1492 in pre-1492 houses that Jews supposedly past went as smoothly as possible. the Jewish Quarter, still known as La kept for eventual return to their homes. Spain’s modern Jewish community Juderia, today no Jews reside in Toledo. Scholars unanimously reject this legend, comes from a number of sources. DurTwo of the world’s most famous old which we heard in Toledo; professional ing or after World War II, Jews escaping synagogues, both superbly preserved, guides and others, too, admit that they from European countries, such as Ger- are in the Old Town. One is the Santa had heard about but never had seen such many and Hungary, ended up in Spain, Maria la Blanca, built sometime be- a key. usually on their way to somewhere else. tween 1180 and 1205 and converted to a Our guide took us to a Jewish home (Franco gave asylum to some European church around 1411. Its unique style is a recently discovered in the Jewish Quarrefugees.) Others arrived after 1948 and reflection of its origins: It was con- ter, with rich Moorish decorations and later, in the 1950s, when North African structed under the Christian Kingdom a dug-out oblong “pool,” very likely a countries, like Morocco, became inde- of Castile by Islamic architects for Jew- mikvah (ritual bath). Hebrew letters rependent. Muslim-Jewish tensions be- ish use. Its photogenic interior has intri- main on the walls and carved into the tween 1967 and 1971 also brought more cately decorated walls and three levels dark brown wooden entrance lintel. Jews to Spain from Morocco; the politi- of magnificent, white, horseshoe-shaped Since they were just a few inches above cal turbulence in South America in the arches standing on octagonal pillars. my head, I lay down on the threshold 1960s brought additional Jews, mostly The other synagogue, El Transito, built for easier reading. from Argentina. Some 12,000 Jews now in 1357 by Samuel Ha-Levi Abulafia, “Archaeologists assume the words treasurer to King Pedro I, is a freestand- are from the Bible,” said our guide. live in Spain. ing building with 30-foot high ceilings “Indeed, they are,” I said. “Odkha and a women’s gallery upstairs. Biblical ki anitani — I will thank You for You The Once Jewish Toledo In Madrid, we boarded the 30-minute inscriptions in Hebrew line the walls, have answered me. From the Hallel high-speed AVE train to Toledo, which and lattices with geometric lace designs prayer, verse 21 of Psalm 118.” is called the City of Three Cultures — add nuanced beauty. El Transito was also I wrote the Hebrew words and their 14

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transliteration on a paper, which my guide photographed and at once e-mailed to the archaeologist in charge of the site.

The Glories of Jewish Cordoba

Florida-like Cordoba is only two hours south of Madrid by train, but the atmosphere is miles apart. The sunshine is not only outdoors. The storied Andalusian temperament is obvious soon as you arrive: smiling faces and a general feeling of welcome. Massive are the walls of the Old Town, with its nearly 1,000-year-old Jewish Quarter, with which are linked the greatest figures of the Jewish Golden Age of Spain: Hasdai ibn Shaprut (circa 915975), scholar, physician and diplomat for Caliph Abd al-Rahman III; poet Judah Halevi (circa 1086-1141); biblical commentator Abraham ibn Ezra (1089-1164); and especially Maimonides (1135-1204), the great luminary of Jewish law, philosophy and medicine. Here he spent his childhood until the invasion of the murderous Almohades, which prompted the family to flee to Egypt, where Maimonides later became physician to the ruler. Cordoba shows its pride in Maimonides with a beautiful statue, to which some locals ascribe magical properties. In this quiet square, we saw two high school girls rubbing their palms on the brass shoes of the statue. To our question as to why they did this, they explained, “It calms the spirit.” A stroll along the narrow, twisted lanes in the Jewish Quarter that still preserves its original layout thrusts the visitor back to the era when Jews thrived here. The Spanish Pavilion in Seville was built for a 1929 world’s fair.

Street of the Jews in Cordoba. Jewry came to an end in Cordoba, Toledo and Seville in 1391 when the Jews were massacred by Christian fanatics.

Some locals ascribe magical powers to this statue of Maimonides in Cordoba’s 1,000-year-old Jewish quarter.

In the 10th century, thanks to the efforts of Hasdai ibn Shaprut, Cordoba became a center of intellectual ferment. Hasdai invited philosophers, poets and scholars and personally supported a number of them. Here, too, more than a century later, Judah Halevi stayed during his peregrinations through Andalusia, as did his close friend, Abraham ibn Ezra. The still extant synagogue, on Calle Judios (Jews’ Street), which attracts scores of visitors, was built in 1315, when the Christians ruled Cordoba. Declared a national monument in 1885, it has a high ceiling and beautifully decorated walls in the Arabic style. Since it is not very spacious, scholars assume that other synagogues likely existed in the quarter.

The small synagogue Comunidad Israelita de Sevilla occupies the ground floor of an apartment house.

Cordoban Jewry came to an end in 1391 when Christian fanatics massacred the Jews of Toledo, Seville and Cordoba. Today, no Jewish community exists in Cordoba, although a few Jews live here.

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The Tourist Board of Cordoba, led by the talented and energetic Rafael Perez de la Concha Camacho, is instrumental in revealing the glories of the Jewish past to the public; it sponsors conferences, Sephardic music festivals and other events that accent the contributions of Jews to Spain. Revel in the beauty of the huge Mezquita, the artistically designed old mosque (capacity, 18,000) that is now a cathedral. See the old baths of the Caliph’s palace and attend the famous classical flamenco show at the Tablao Cardenal, opposite the Mezquita. Seeing us, the host at Tablao immediately welcomed us with, “Shalom! Berukhim ha-ba’im. Since I heard from Rafael of your interest in Jewish past, I thought I’d greet you with a modern Hebrew expression.” Don’t miss Madinat al-Zahra (Brilliant Town), a 20-minute bus ride from Cordoba, an acres-long, carefully excavated, archaeological wonder, consisting of Caliph Abd al Rahman’s palace and other buildings. Recalling Hasdai ibn Shaprut’s close links to the Caliph makes the visit all the more memorable. Fifty-seven minutes later through the rolling Andalusian countryside, our train took us to Seville.

Gorgeous Seville

Seville (Sevilla) is continually attractive, revealing itself as you wander through the old and new sections of town, which

occasionally blend. On Friday night, the 15-minute walk from our hotel to the synagogue at 8 Calle Bustos Tavera took us through crowded pedestrian streets full of shops into narrow lanes of a residential area. The small synagogue, Comunidad Israelita de Sevilla, on the ground floor of an apartment house, accommodates about forty people. That night twelve men and three women attended. Only one youngster was there, reading from a large-print Siddur with help from his father. Since the Sabbath morning Torah reader was unsure of the text, another man, standing near him, slowly read the verses, phrase by phrase, from a printed Pentateuch, which the reader carefully repeated. This was probably the longest and most unusual Torah reading we have ever heard. Luckily it was a short weekly portion — and there was no rabbi to give a sermon. Actually, the shul did have a young rabbi until very recently. But a couple of weeks before Rosh Hashanah, he demanded more authority and threatened to leave if he did not get it. End of story? He left. The Jews of Seville will not tolerate any rabbi compromising their authority. After all, they have been here longer than he. We were fortunate to have a professional and knowledgeable guide, Moises Hassan, fluent in English and Hebrew, to show us some of the Jewish aspects of his native city. Here the Jewish mark-

View of Granada from a cafe near the Alhambra.


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ers are more subtle, not as obvious as in Toledo or Cordoba, for Seville was rebuilt during the late Middle Ages, and many old Jewish sites vanished. However, during the excavation for an underground parking garage, a Jewish tombstone was discovered and is now displayed in a windowed niche. Seeing a group of elderly men chatting at a cafe, I jokingly remarked to Moises in Hebrew, “How come they weren’t in shul on Friday night.” Moises laughed. “They probably were in shul...” then he paused, “in 1491. Yes, many people here do look Jewish, and it’s not surprising, for some scholars estimate that 20 percent of Spain’s population is descended from Jews.” The old Jewish Quarter is called Barrio de Santa Cruz, a maze of narrow lanes filled with small plazas, tile-covered patios and whitewashed houses. As in other places in Andalusia, and, ironically, despite the nearly 20 percent unemployment, cafes are packed with young and old; museums are crowded and shows are sold out. When I mentioned this to Moises Hassan, he quipped: “Well, if they’re not working, why should they sit at home?” Jews began returning to Seville only at the beginning of the 20th century, mostly from North Africa; their numbers gradually grew with refugees fleeing Germany in the 1930s. Today, the little community has between 25 and 75 men, women and children, the numbers

Granada’s Statue of Judah ibn Tibbon, physician and translator.

The Malaga shul on a Sunday morning, above; statue of Shlomo ibn Gabirol, the renowned poet and philosopher, revered by the Jews of Malaga.

depending on whether one counts the Christian wives of Jews and their unconverted children. To contact Moises Hassan before your visit to Seville and arrange for his fascinating Jewish Heritage Walking Tour, e-mail him at No kosher restaurants exist in Seville, but there is one superb vegetarian restaurant, Centro Ecologico Gaia, at Calle Luis de Vargas 4. We ate there several times, enjoying its wide-ranging, imaginative menu, amicable service and reasonable prices. One evening we saw the magnificent Flamenco Museum and stage show. As the guitarist was playing, I was astonished to hear a couple of traditional Sephardic melodies. Flamenco and Jewish music? Later, I asked the museum director about this, and was stunned — and delighted — to learn that Jewish melodies make up part of flamenco music, as do Roma and Arab melodies. In fact, the sadness of all these people’s fates is integrated into the flamenco tradition. When I returned home people asked, “Well, did you find a barber in Seville?” My response: “Not even one. Just two tiny beauty parlors. If a Sevillano wants a haircut, he has to go to Granada.” Which is exactly where we were headed, traveling by express train through endless olive groves on undulating terrain that soon turned hilly.

The Glory of Granada

Built on a hillside and surrounded by mountains, Granada is an enchanting city for which the Alhambra is the chief

draw. But for us it had other aspects — a glorious Jewish past. Documents show that Jews were in Granada (the pomegranate is its symbol) early in the 8th century. And during the 11th century, Granada, by then an independent principality, had many Jews as administrators. Among them was Shmuel Ha-Nagid (993 to circa 1055), one of the earliest notable figures of the Jewish Golden Age — a great poet, head of the Jewish community and also the vizier and military commander of Granada. Granada was a major player in Jewish history and tradition, and many famous Jewish personalities are linked to this city. Besides Shmuel Ha-Nagid, Judah ibn Tibbon (1120-1190), who achieved fame translating the works of Maimonides from Arabic to Hebrew, lived here until persecutions drove him to Lunel, France, where he practiced medicine. Poet Moses ibn Ezra (circa 1055–after 1135) was born and lived here, and for a while the young Judah Halevi stayed at his home. After touring the Alhambra, the last and greatest Moorish palace, walk down through the meandering narrow lanes of the endlessly fascinating older layers of Granada with their tiny local markets selling tropical fruits we had never seen before. Unlike Cordoba, Granada has no extant old Jewish quarter, no old synagogue and no current Jewish community. But at the entrance to what is known to be the former Jewish Quarter stands a statue of Judah ibn Tibbon, showing

Granada’s pride in this noted Jewish intellectual. One evening, at a flamenco show, a French family sat next to us. The father looked just like Robin Williams — and I could not resist telling him this. His two daughters were thrilled. They told him, “Papa, now you will have to start being funny.” Later, on a night walking tour, we saw a small plaza that had a Star of David embedded in it. On returning the next morning, we asked a tapas bar waitress the reason for it. “Because Jews lived here,” she said simply. In Granada, we discovered an excellent vegetarian restaurant, El Piano, at Calle Gran Capitan 7. With down-toearth prices and tasty fare, El Piano was a place we returned to a number of times. And it was in Granada, on April 30, 1492, that Columbus (who some believe to be of Jewish descent) signed a contract with Ferdinand and Isabella to undertake the voyage that led to the discovery of the New World. Then the train took us further south, toward the Mediterranean and Malaga.

Charming Malaga

In summery Malaga, our hotel was just opposite the Old Town and a short walk from the handsomely decorated synagogue at Calle Duquesa de Parcent 8, which serves the 1,000 Jews in the city. On the Sabbath, about 40 men of varying ages and several women attended the Comunidad Israelita de Malaga. A talented cantor led the prayers, continued on page 23

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Take Action! Na’amat USA’s column on advocacy highlights American public policy issues and items of interest that concern us as Jews, women and Zionists. This issue’s column focuses on the organization’s stand on sexual harassment in the workplace. Join us in speaking out for policies that defend the rights of women, children and families. 18

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Sexual Harassment in the Workplace by MARCIA J. WEISS



USA is focused on issues that promote social justice, equality, and economic well-being within the realm of women’s rights. Na’amat USA is committed to the right of a woman to be free from domestic abuse and to educating women about their rights in cases of workplace sexual harassment. Definition The term “sexual harassment” covers a broad spectrum of unwelcome activity of a sexual nature, from telling an off-color joke, displaying sexually offensive pictures, casual touching, open advances, or actually propositioning a co-worker for sex. The Internet can also be a vehicle through which harassment occurs because people will more readily place offensive materials in an e-mail message than in a written note or memo. Pornographic pictures may also be downloaded and sent via e-mail. Often what is included in the rubric “sexual harassment” depends on the person who is doing the harassing and the person who is the victim of the harassment. That is, the behavior in question may be more offensive to one person’s sensibilities than to another’s, and the harasser’s intent may vary as well. The severity of sexual harassment is largely determined by its impact on the victim. Saying “it was a joke” or caused by someone having had “too much to drink” is not considered an excuse. The law recognizes two forms of sexual harassment: hostile environment sexual harassment and quid pro quo sexual harassment. The line between the two is often blurry. Hostile environment sexual harassment occurs when a job benefit is directly linked to an employee submitting to unwelcome sexual advances that unreasonably interfere with an employee’s work performance, creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive workplace environment. Some examples include making lewd comments about looks, using offensive language of a sexual nature, telling sexual jokes or stories, making sexual innuendoes, or displaying sexually suggestive

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materials in the workplace. Quid pro quo sexual harassment is defined as any action taken against an employee based on demands for sexual favors. This includes insisting on spending more personal time with a superior, promising a raise based on going on a date with a superior, warning of potential termination if an employee does not sleep with a superior, or retaliation if the employee refuses to submit to advances or files a complaint. Threats of jeopardy to one’s well-being or job security do not have to be carried out to be construed as quid pro quo sexual harassment; all that is necessary is that the employee is made to feel threatened either explicitly or implicitly. The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee. The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct. The greatest numbers of harassers are men who harass women, but women can also harass men, and same-sex harassment can also occur. Effects Sexual harassment can cause serious psychological and physical harm to its victims, their families and coworkers. It can also have a destructive effect on the entire workplace. As the victim’s work performance declines because she is distracted from her work by the stress of the harassment, co-workers also may become less productive because they strategize on ways to solve the problem. Employers are impacted because of the great amount of money and work hours that are lost in disrupted productivity. The American Psychiatric Association has recognized that work performance stress caused by sexual harassment, and its effects on all aspects of the victims’ lives, is a major contributor to post-traumatic stress disorder. Psychological problems lead to physical problems such as sleep deprivation, increased susceptibility to disease, weight fluctuation, heart palpitations, headaches

and increased worry and anxiety. Some victims turn to alcohol and substance abuse in an attempt to combat the effects of the workplace stress. Harassment can have lasting effects, as it could potentially impact a victim’s work record or references. If she chooses to remain on the job, a victim may be denied training opportunities, a promotion or a raise. In retaliation for filing a complaint, she may be reassigned to a more difficult position or transferred away from home and family. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which applies to a workplace with 15 or more employees. (If harassment occurs in a workplace of fewer employees, the remedy is sought under state rather than federal law.) Under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA), it is illegal to harass a person based on her genetic information. Although the law does not prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so severe or pervasive that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted). How to Respond The victim should directly inform the harasser that the conduct is unwelcome and must stop. If a verbal warning is ineffective to stop the behavior, the victim should write a letter asking the harasser to stop. A record should be kept specifying dates, places, times and possible witnesses to each occurrence. The supervisor should be informed and the problem described in writing. Next, the victim should use any employer complaint mechanism or grievance system available in the workplace. Unless that route is taken first, the employee is prohibited from filing a complaint to the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). District offices are located across the United States. During 2007 alone, the EEOC

News Na’amat

and related state agencies received 12,510 new charges of workplace sexual harassment. When investigating allegations of sexual harassment, the EEOC looks at the whole record: the circumstances, such as the nature of the sexual advances, and the context in which the alleged incidents occurred. A determination on the allegations is made from the facts on a case-by-case basis. After filing a formal EEOC complaint, the victim may then consider bringing suit for money damages, reinstatement of her employment (if applicable), or request that the court instruct the employer to change its practices to prevent occurrences of future harassment. Prevention is the best tool to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace. Employers are encouraged to take steps necessary to preclude sexual harassment. They should establish and enforce a policy concerning sexual harassment and clearly communicate to employees in the employee handbook that sexual harassment will not be tolerated. The policy should establish an effective complaint or grievance process followed by investigation and immediate and appropriate action when an employee complains. In an effort to prevent instances of harassment, employee training sessions should be held at least once a year. These sessions should teach employees about sexual harassment and explain that they have a right to a workplace free of sexual harassment. The complaint procedure should also be reviewed. At least once a year, separate training sessions for supervisors and managers should also be conducted. The sessions should educate the managers and supervisors about sexual harassment and explain how to deal with complaints. Employers should also monitor the workplace and keep the lines of communication open. All complaints should be investigated promptly. Education and understanding are the first steps to empowerment for women in the workplace.

Marcia J. Weiss, J.D., is the Na’amat USA National Advocacy Chair. Last issue she wrote about abortion and child care issues.

Free Education Will Benefit All

Na’amat Israel president speaks out on day care. by TALIA LIVNI


omething remarkable happened in Israel this summer. Hundreds of thousands of people said enough is enough; this will no longer be tolerated. Middle-class families demanded that the government make it possible for them to work and to earn a decent living. It is not surprising that those standing at the forefront of the protest are women, since they are the ones who have to bear most of the burden of daily existence and who have to pay a very heavy price for their desire to combine family life with work. The positioning of free early childhood education as a central demand within the protest did not happen by chance either. This demand embodies one of the most just claims and one of the most deserving requests to carry out social justice. The question of early childhood education is one of very broad importance, since it relates to all aspects of life and also affects the economic situation and the future of the generations to come. At present, the public day care center subsidy is offered only to low-income families, while middleclass families have to pay 1,500 to 2,000 shekels (about $410 to $550) a month for each one of their children who attends a public day care center. But this will only be the case if they are lucky enough to find a place in one of the too few existing centers. Needless to say, the cost will be higher in private institutions, between 2,500 and 3,500 shekels (about $685 to $960) a month for each child. Therefore, an average family with two small children and a large mortgage loan will be spending some 5,500 shekels (about $1,500) a month just to pay for child care. The inability to pay for child care will often prevent one of the spouses, usually the woman, from having a full-time position, and sometimes, to work at all. Free early childhood education is expected to significantly ease the situation of middle-class families. It will also help low-income mothers who are forced to give up going out to work due to financial considerations, so as to care for their children, and encourage them to join the labor market. The implementation of early childhood education must be accompanied by a massive building of new day care facilities, as well as by increasing the places available at public centers to meet the high demand in certain areas. Once the supply meets the existing demand, approximately 200,000 infants whose mothers work are

expected to stay in public facilities. Na’amat president Talia Livni, The overall cost of right, and past Na’amat USA president Sylvia Lewis are shown subsidizing free early at the Ramleh day care center. childhood education is much lower than the Ministry of Finance declares. It amounts to an additional 2.5 billion shekels (about $687,240,000) and this is not considered a high sum by Israeli standards. In light of all this, and considering the studies conducted by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development — which show that full employment of women acts as a trigger for a significant growth in the economy — the Trachtenberg Committee should place at the top of recommendations the implementation of free education for preschoolers. This would determine once and for all that the state is responsible for providing public day care, as a basic service and at no cost, for mothers in Israel who work and study. These recommendations, as well as their implementation, will not only help middle-class families to live in dignity and realize their rights as parents, but also will strengthen social cohesion and social resilience in Israel, ensure equal opportunities for all our children, and allow the state to fully capitalize on women's skills and knowledge, which are so important for the economic growth of the nation as a whole. This article was adapted from a Ha’aretz article published in fall 2011. Facts About Israeli Day Care • About 40 percent of the children in Israel between the ages of three months and three years are registered in public or private preschools or other educational facilities. The types of preschool care are public day care, supervised by the government; private home, supervised by the government; private, no government supervision; in-home babysitter. • About 87,000 children of these ages attend public day care facilities, which are run mostly by women’s organizations. • Na’amat’s preschool network provides services for some 18,000 children. The organization’s 24 multipurpose centers, open 12 hours a day, accommodate 2,000 children at risk. This year, Na’amat will open a new day care center in Jaffa for Arab children and will begin building a new center in Nes Ziona, about 15 miles south of Tel Aviv.

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Na’amat Woman


I Wa

s a C

an m hained Wo

The plight of the agunah makes headlines. But every story is personal and different. Here’s mine. by JEANETTE FRIEDMAN


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receive a religious get to be able to remarry. Without one, any child of another marriage is considered a mamzer.* While the husband may remarry if he gets permission from 100 rabbis, the wife may not — and she is thus forever condemned to religious limbo. Many of her friends will shun her, because they think of her as being contagious, as they do a widow or divorcee. She can only remarry if she leaves the fold. Many agunot leave, taking the kids into exile. What demands are such wives usually subjected to? Sometimes it means emptying out a wife’s family’s bank account, handing over custody of children, and, at times, even being forced to give up the roof over one’s head. It is, in fact, extortion, yet it is a sanctioned crime that plays itself out in Orthodox communities around the world. I was headed for such a disaster since I was a child, living in an environment that tried to recreate Eastern/Central European Orthodoxy in the post-Holocaust years without * According to Wikipedia, the Hebrew noun mamzer, in the Hebrew Bible and Jewish religious law, is a person born from certain forbidden relationships, or the descendant of such a person. A mamzer is someone who is either born of adultery by a married woman, or born of incest or someone who has a mamzer as a parent. The mamzer status is not synonymous with illegitimacy, since it does not include children whose mother was unmarried.

Illustration byMarilyn Rose


hen you watch Women Unchained, a film about women who can’t get Jewish divorces, you’ll see an ambulance driving up to an emergency room. The film, released last March, was directed by Beverly Siegel and co-produced by Leta Lenik. The woman whose case was dramatized with the ambulance was me, decades ago, when I was trapped and chained to a man who would not let me go for seven years. He had finally convinced me, once I’d borne him a child, that I was no longer worthy of breathing free air, so I decided to accommodate him and turn out the lights. I was barely out of my teens, had a six-month-old, and landed in Lutheran Hospital in Brooklyn getting my stomach pumped. My attempt at suicide had failed, so instead of wallowing in self-pity, I began to fight for a “hopeless” divorce. I found myself the protagonist in the case that led to the Silver “Get Law” in New York State, a law designed to free women who were, like me, trapped by husbands who would not let them go. These women are called agunot (chained women), as their husbands refuse to grant them a Jewish divorce, a get, unless rapacious demands are met. Since a civil divorce is not acceptable in religiously observant circles, one must

A week after the wedding, my husband quit his job and went to sit in a yeshiva, demanding that my father pay our rent and living expenses. Wracked with morning sickness, I was sent to work as a receptionist, traveling by subway. really understanding where that could lead. For girls and boys, that often meant complete separation, so that you regarded each other with suspicion, as aliens from different planets, with no chance at normal socialization. We received no information in high school about sex or the vicissitudes of marriage, and when it was time for us to marry, most of us went out on shidduch dates, dates arranged by matchmakers. We had less than three months, if that, to decide whom to marry — provided we got an offer. In my case, the “dating” started at 17, and my parents were able to find fault with just about every “modern” fellow who took me out. One date was normal. Two dates was serious. Three dates, you were ready to get engaged. Finally, this fellow, a cantor and commercial artist, 10 years older than I, was brought to the door. My parents approved, and I felt I had no choice. So I went out with him, got engaged, and then about two months before the wedding, realized there was something hinky going on and tried to back out. I wasn’t allowed to do that. Instead, they sent me to a cousin in Toronto to try to calm me down. It didn’t help. A few weeks later, I was married at a huge wedding in the Statler Hilton Hotel and got pregnant on my wedding night — as planned by the system, which used the pill to create fertilization perfection for the main event (the birth control pill is used before weddings to make sure that your period ends one week before the wedding, so you go to mikvah the night before the wedding and are in top fertile form on your wedding night). Two days later, I entered the ranks of battered women. A week after the wedding, my husband quit his job and went to sit in a yeshiva, demanding that my father pay our rent and living expenses. Wracked with morning sickness, I was sent to work as a receptionist in mid-town Manhattan, riding the subways, sicker than a dog. I was also expected to scrub the floors in my apartment on my hands and knees because that’s how his mother washed floors, and I was not allowed to eat steak and potatoes, or other “men’s” foods. The day I gave birth, between Yom Kippur and Sukkot, I was alone. When I came out of labor, I shared a room with his sister, who was on her tenth child, and was being told by the doctor she couldn’t have any more babies or it would kill her. I knew nothing about having babies and post-partum depression; I was worse than an infant when it came to these things. When I got home, I knew I needed help, and instead was abused. I knew I needed to get out for the sake of my daughter and myself. But my father wouldn’t help me, and I

was trapped. By the time the baby was 6 months old, I was in a severe depression and tried to do away with myself. On that day, once the meds had been pumped out of my stomach, I knew I was going to get out, come hell or high water. No one was ever going to convince me I was worthless ever again. The first thing I did was go back to college, to night school, then joined the school newspaper. The people I met were incredulous when they heard about my situation. They helped me find an apartment, rented a U-Haul and got me out of the family “home.” I took what I needed, including the crib, and left the valuables behind. I demanded a get, which in our circles was required before you could go to court to get your civil decree. My father took me to the local get expert, who informed me that I had to wait for my battering husband to grant me the divorce or I could never marry again. This was not anything they had taught us in marriage prep courses, which were about the purity of family laws and how to make sure that you were kosher for ritual immersion in the mikvah every month. They never taught us that Jewish law states that the first time your husband beats you, you must leave and never come back, and that’s how you can obtain a get. But most women go back because they have no choice — they have no place to go. And in the ultra-Orthodox circles I was raised in, you didn’t call the cops, either. If you did that, you were considered a traitor to the Jewish people. This respected get rabbi also told me that even if I did obtain the divorce, I would be miserable, alone, and I might even change my mind and go back. I couldn’t believe my ears. But that for me was confirmed recently in a new book by Dr. David Hartman and Charlie Buckholtz called The God Who Hates Lies. Chapter three is a devastating condemnation of the freezing of Jewish law to force women to stay married to men they despise. Considering the fact that the problem goes back to Talmudic times, you would think that Jewish law would have accommodated itself to the facts of modern life. Instead, Hartman and Buckholtz explain the immoral laws that were holding me captive — and named the people responsible for freezing it in place. In the late 20th century, men caught in a time warp were deciding what was best for modern Jewish women, even if those women didn’t want it. Of course, there was a twist. If the recalcitrant husband wanted to remarry, he could get permission from 100 rabbis, which is issued by a Jewish House of Judgment — the Bet Din. There are many of them, and many have no scruples. WINTER 2011/2012

Na’amat Woman


They sell these permissions, and men remarry while their ex-wives dangle in limbo as their biological clocks tick on. Even if those women aren’t interested in having kids, they are condemned to a lonely life. When I asked the rabbi why I couldn’t simply file a petition with 100 rabbis and get my own permission that way, my father knocked me across the room. So I held my ground as he dragged me from rabbi to rabbi, from the Hasidic grand rabbis to the learned Litvaks. Finally, we landed in the Lower East Side apartment of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, the greatest halachist of the generation, who had married me to my ex. I saw a tiny man in a tiny room off the kitchen. He had a long grey beard and kind eyes. His wife stood in the doorway, wiping her eyes with her apron, pleading with me to stay with this man for the sake of the child. “For the sake of the child,” I yelled in frustration, “I need my freedom.” Rabbi Feinstein gave me permission to go to court for my divorce. In the final papers, signed by Irving Saypol, the same judge who sent Julius and Ethel Rosenberg to the electric chair, it was stipulated that if my ex didn’t give me a get, he’d be in contempt of court. A few days later, he was in jail, but the rabbinic machinery went to work to nullify the decree, saying that it called for a “forced get.” (Under Jewish law, a get given under compulsion is not valid — though there are specific cases where halacha prescribes coercion as a legitimate means of effecting a get in order to remove the wife from an intolerable situation.) So the decision was overturned, and Rabbi Feinstein had to sit down with Sheldon Silver in the State Assembly of New York to craft the Silver “Get Law,” which states that if a man puts an obstacle in the path of his ex-wife’s remarriage (notice there is no mention of a get) he gets neither custody nor community property — that is of course possible only after she gets permission from a rabbi to go to court in the first place. But here’s what didn’t make sense to me. According to Jewish law, and Maimonides, you can break a fellow’s knees to get him to agree to a get. You can beat him up, and that’s not a forced get, because — are you ready for this? — the man who says no is not the true man denying a get. It is his evil inclination speaking, so you must beat him until the “true” man is heard, and that is the one agreeing to the get while he’s getting the stuffing kicked out of him. How well

Jewish Feminism continued from page 7

Myisha says she enjoyed saying both the traditional prayers and the more familiar Falk versions that her family uses regularly for havdalah. “It was important to learn the blessings and figure out what they meant to me,” she says. But the male-centered language her mother abhors doesn’t bother her. “I call God a ‘He’ even though it’s a spirit. I think 22

Na’amat Woman

does that work? You would have to ask the couple in Lakewood, New Jersey, who recently tried to use that method to convince a recalcitrant husband who fled the Bet Din’s decision in Israel. The FBI arrested them and they are facing life in jail. I suppose these beatings make sense only to certain rabbis. It made no sense to me then, all those years ago, and it makes no sense now. Nothing much has changed since days of yore, except for a device called the prenuptial agreement, which says that your future husband agrees to pay you $250 a day (the going rate) for every day that he doesn’t grant the get, and the document is supposedly enforceable in a court of law. This remains to be seen, since many women who are agunot do not have such a document and have no way out. In fact, many Orthodox rabbis refuse to perform a wedding if there is a prenup. And what happened to me? With the law of land defanged; with my reluctance to hire thugs to do my dirty work (I figured I would be the primary suspect), I could do nothing but put my social life and future on hold. Many great rabbis told my ex to give me a get but he ignored them until the day my dad coughed up enough bucks to set me free. Of course I have left the path of Orthodoxy, though two of my daughters haven’t. And when my ultra-Orthodox family members ask me if I will come back, I tell them, “Not until the system is repaired.” While there have been some changes in Israel that offer some hope, the rabbinate there doesn’t make it easier. In America, we are trapped by frozen laws and antiquarian attitudes in the rabbinate. The hypocrisy of it all is soul deadening. Marriage and divorce are basic human rights issues and should not be held hostage on the whims of a bunch of men who have vested financial and power issues in maintaining the status quo. Considering all this, I hope that my family isn’t holding its breath waiting for me to come back to the “path of righteousness.” Jeanette Friedman is an award-winning freelance writer, author and social activist living in Bergen County, New Jersey. She remarried after she received her get and had three more children.

God is everywhere and in everybody.” She tries to imagine a time in which she wouldn’t have been allowed to participate in a bat mitzvah of her own. “I’d feel unimportant,” she explains. “I’d feel I wasn’t respected and probably sad and depressed.” Her mother shows her how to be “a strong feminist woman by the small things she does, making sure we understand if someone is being sexist, why that’s so bad and why that’s wrong.”

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Feminism, she explains, is “the freedom we get because we’re women. Being able to stand up as women and because we’re women.” Rahel Musleah is a New York-based journalist, author, singer and educator who presents programs on the Jews of India and Iraq. She wrote “Jewish Feminist Art” in our winter 2010-2011 issue. Visit her Web site:


continued from page 17 and after his sermon the Israel-trained rabbi invited everyone to a Kiddush. I later greeted the cantor, “Shabbat shalom, Mr. Cohen.” “How do you know my name?” he said, surprised. “A couple of weeks ago, we spent a Shabbat in Madrid and met the cantor who said he had a brother in Malaga. So as soon as I saw you and noticed the resemblance, I realized you must be the brother.” Standing out among the worshippers was a Hasidic-looking young man with long black beard and payess (sidelocks) who stood in the back, certainly an unusual sight in a Sephardic synagogue in Spain whose congregants are invariably Jews from North Africa. The cantor soon satisfied my curiosity: “This fellow went to Israel and sort of fell into one of the Ashkenazic yeshivas. But he still doesn’t know how to read Hebrew. In fact, he’s not even Jewish. He just parades about in the ultra-Orthodox garb.” For Sabbath morning services, the “Hasid” was not present. Malaga reveres the great Hebrew poet and philosopher, Shlomo ibn Gabirol. In a few years, right by the picturesque Old Town, city officials plan to build a Jewish cultural center and a new synagogue (the current one is in a more residential area) on the future Gabirol Plaza. Nearby stands a statue of the poet that had been erected decades ago. When Gabirol was born, about 200 Jews lived among a population of 20,000. Jews thrived here until around 1490; then, after a hiatus of some 400 years, they slowly began returning. The community surged when North African countries got their independence, spurring a mass emigration of Jews. Among the sites to see is the Picasso home on Plaza de la Merced and the Picasso Museum, housed in an elegant mansion, with more than 150 of the artist’s works. A major landmark is the 11th-century La Alcazaba fortress, with its landscaped gardens and adjoining Roman amphitheater. Near it is the popular and vibrant central market, Mercardo de Atarazanas. Be sure to take the tourist bus that brings you to

the main sites of Malaga, then ascends to one of the hills that overlooks the entire city. One may leave the bus, enjoy the views from the ramparts for half an hour and take the next bus back. Walking through the Old Town’s lanes and alleys one evening, we came to our favorite promenade, the broad pedestrian street, Marques de Larios, with its boutiques, classy pastry shops and street entertainers. There I saw our Robin Williams from the Granada flamenco show sitting alone at an outdoor cafe. I approached and, with a smile, began commenting in French on this coincidental meeting. “And where is your family?” As I delivered my monologue the man kept nodding and smiling. Then, his smile broader now, he said: “I’m an American. I don’t understand French.” I apologized. “You look just like the Frenchman I met a few nights ago in Granada to whom I said that he looks exactly like Robin Williams.... And so

do you, by the way.” “I should,” he said softly, his eyes crinkling with laughter on a face I now recognized. “I am Robin Williams.” And we both broke into a hearty laugh. Note: In our rail journeys we used our convenient and money-saving Eurail Pass, which cannot be bought in Europe. For purchase and timetables, and point-to-point tickets and special offers, visit or call 1-800-622-8600. You must make reservations. For tourist information about Spain, don’t count on the Tourist Office of Spain in New York. They don’t even answer their phone. Instead, google the local tourist boards of the cities you want to visit and contact them for prompt and courteous replies. The most recent novel by Curt Leviant is the comic A Novel of Klass. Erika Pfeifer Leviant writes about art and travel for various publications.

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Na’amat Woman


BOOK & ART REVIEWS Jewish Comics

self-discovery as much as Israel-discovery.


In her late 20s, a few years ago, Glidden

he genre of comics — aka

arrived in Israel armed with leftist and pro-

alternative comics, art comics,

Palestinian opinions, ready to criticize Israel

comics lit, comix, graphic novels

at every turn. Fortunately, she also came

— has rapidly grown over the

with a mind that was open enough to listen

last decade. Since Na’amat Woman first

to different views and to see the complexity

reviewed Jewish comics in 2007, the field

of the Palestinian/Israeli situation. She

has continued to evolve with many young

wanted the Truth.

creators joining the veterans. Here’s a

Commenting to a new Israeli friend,

roundup of some recent works, along with

about halfway through her trip, Glidden

look at the compelling traveling exhibition,

observes: “I know the Palestinians are wrong

“Graphic Details: Confessional Comics

sometimes. But…I always thought that

by Jewish Women,” now at the Yeshiva University Museum in New York. Yiddishkeit: Jewish Vernacular & the New Land (Abrams) explodes with Yiddishkeit. Edited by Harvey Pekar and Paul Buhle, it is the last fully realized work of Pekar (1930-2010), one of the great creators of comics. This lively, jam-packed gathering of stories, a play, songs, comics art and other illustrations by 24 contributors explores the history, influences and world of Yiddish culture. The book begins with a critical history of Yiddish literature, as a graphic narrative, by Pekar and artist Dan Archer. Why Yiddishkeit, why comics arts? As Paul Buhle writes in the introduction, “The culture of Yiddish is so inherently vernacular that comics arts provides a perfect venue for an exploration of issues and personalities.” The world of Yiddishkeit (“warm and earthy Jewishness growing out of the Eastern European experience”) is also an attitude of challenge, candidness and tough-mindedness. The combination works. You feel it as you make your way through the gutsy material. I was particularly stirred by the piece about lyricist E. Y. “Yip” Harburg, (“Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” “April in Paris”) who gave us the words to


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Israel was more wrong because it has all the “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime,”

power. And now all these people here are

considered by some to be “dangerously

telling me that this is my home? Well, maybe

subversive.” The left-leaning Yip grew

I don’t want it! I came here…I think I wanted

up speaking Yiddish and was informally

to know for sure that Israel was the bad guy.

blacklisted from the movies by 1950. With

I wanted to know that I could cut it out of my

its inflection of Eastern European sadness

life for good. But now I don’t know. I don’t

(it was composed by the Yiddish-speaking

know anything. I can see why Israel did some

Jay Gorney) and heartbreaking lyric — and

of what they did. You guys are good people.

movingly illustrated by Sharon Rudahl –

At least, some of you are. Or maybe I’m just

“Brother” portrays the dying hopes of those

being brainwashed just like everyone said

who lost everything in the Depression.

I would be!” At the end, she concludes that

In our present economic state that keeps

she still doesn’t really know what her point of

generating anxiety and disappointment,

view is and “maybe I never will.”

Harburg’s words resonate anew: “They used to tell me I was building a dream, with peace and glory ahead. Why should I be standing in line just waiting for bread?” So do the words of another inhabitant of the book, Abraham Lincoln Polonsky, teacher, writer, director, lawyer and activist, also blacklisted. His film “Forces of Evil” exposes the crushing weight of banking monopolies on daily life. “You cannot pretend to examine life without opening a floodgate of truths,” Polonsky notes in the final frame of the story of his life (script by Dave Wagner, Paul Buhle and Peter Kuper; art by Kuper). How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less (Vertigo) by Sarah Glidden chronicles Glidden’s Birthright trip, an experience of

Her simple drawings, enhanced by

bright watercolors, work well with the

illustrated The Smartest Woman I Know

often dense text. I only wish she gave her

(Algonquin). This wise woman is her late

characters a greater variety of nose shapes.

grandmother Ettie Goldberg (“every bone in

drawings and collage work are an integral

In Make Me a Woman (Drawn &

her body was Jewish”), whose advice about

part of this book, as they are in all her

marriage, beauty, Jewish holidays, work and

others. Though she claims, in an e-mail to

Quarterly), Vanessa Davis works in the autobiographical, confessional mode

every afternoon and take a nap?” Beckerman’s simple, charming

everything else

me, that she “really can’t draw, at least not

will make

in a conventional ‘arty’ way,” her work is as

you laugh

“arty” as a professional illustrator. She also

out loud.

advises me: “As my grandmother would say,

One scene:

“You should live and make a habit of it.”

Sara Delano

Farm 54 (Ponent Mon Ltd.) by Galit


Seliktar and Gilad

the mother

Seliktar reminds me of the kind of books and movies that begin showing

of Franklin,

a nice suburban

shopped at

family living in a

of many Jewish women comics artists.

Ettie’s store


Whether she is reliving her bat mitzvah,

in Manhattan.

neighborhood — but

dealing with her family or dating, we

She’d come in

very quickly you start to feel uneasy, then

witness her thoughtful and humorous

and tell Ettie

very disturbed, as the pretty veneer erodes,

observations about herself and others —

how worried she

exposing life’s underbelly. Galit (writer)

she’s critical but kind. Several of the strips

was because her

and Gilad (illustrator), sister and brother,

were originally published in the online

son had polio.

grew up at Farm 54 in Ganei-Yohana. This

Jewish magazine Tablet, such as her fat

“Don’t worry,”

small rural Israeli village was founded by

camp piece. Against her parents’ wishes

Ettie told her,

Jewish immigrants from Russia, Yemen

(“I don’t like you being with all those sad

“your son’s got a

and Libya in the early 1950s. The stories

girls!”), Davis, who doesn’t look very heavy,

good head on his

are semi-autobiographical, taking on

goes to fat camp — it seems mostly so

shoulders. I bet

incidences in their lives from the 1970s

she doesn’t have to do sports and because

someday he’ll be

and 1980s. Danger lurks everywhere. Their

a friend, who is also not fat, has gone for

president.” Turns

mother runs over the dog; when the kids go

years and loves it. Vanessa has a great

out that Ettie said this to everyone who had

to the forbidden basement to bring up the

time. Hint learned at camp: When baking,

a son. “That’s how you make a customer.”

dead animal, they find their father’s porn

wear a mask, so you don’t unthinkingly lick

Another: A thought balloon accompanies a

magazines. The young brother drowns in

the spoon and eat excessive calories.

figure Beckerman has drawn, adding Ettie’s

a swimming pool (in real life he survives

head from a photograph: “You got a minute,

the accident). In another story, the author

drawings are perfect for her wonderful

God. I’m not really complaining but it says

goes into the army and has to help evacuate


in the Talmud that a man has 613 mitzvahs

Arabs from their houses, which the army will

to do but a woman has only 3. So how come


Davis’s vibrant, sometimes chaotic

Another writer who humorously addresses women’s experiences is the

I am busy from the minute I wake up in the

best-selling author Ilene Beckerman

morning until I go to bed at night, and Mr.

illustrations capture the mood of these

(Love, Loss and What I Wore). Her new

Goldberg, who has 613 mitzvahs to do, has

discomforting tales.

work, though not really comics art, is the

enough time to go upstairs at four o-clock

Galid’s spare, monochromatic

— Judith A. Sokoloff

WINTER 2011/2012

Na’amat Woman


BOOK & ART REVIEWS Graphic Details

Revealing Your Life in Comics J

the exhibition, that throughout

to self-scrutiny and self-

history, Jewish women have been

confrontation. How we love to

in the forefront of revolutions, from

analyze our complicated lives and

political radicals like Emma Goldman

relationships — and talk about it.

and sexual radicals like Gertrude

Jewish women comics artists are

Stein, to feminist radicals like Betty

experts in letting it all hang out very

Friedan and Gloria Steinem. Robbins

graphically. And here, spread out

and other pioneers were the first

across the walls of Yeshiva University

to deal with subjects like abortion,

Museum in New York, we can see

menstruation, lesbianism and child

our pain, our desires, anxieties,

abuse. She also thinks that the

embarrassment and concerns in the

tendency toward exposing oneself in

exhibit “Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women.” The powerful collection of original drawings, comic books and graphic novels is both a voyeur’s delight and

Photos by Judith Sokoloff

ewish women are no strangers

comics is a “Jewish cultural thing.” London-based Sarah Lightman posits a number of reasons for Jewish women’s affinity for creating comics, including the need to feel empowered

Entrance to exhibition “Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women” at Yeshiva University Museum.

misery. There is much humor here, of course. Isn’t that how a lot of Jews have dealt

(see page 27). “In my drawings,” writes Lightman in the exhibition text, “I

with the issues in their lives? This wonderful show explores

concentrate my disappointment and hurt into viewpoints across in the male-dominated,

just the right tight sharp point of a pencil lead

sexist comics world, “fusing the personal

as it scratches across a sheet of paper.”

and political for fearlessly feminist and

Among the artists shown is Miriam

radically realistic stories,” say the co-

Katin (she has done illustrations for Na’amat

curators Sarah Lightman (a Canadian comics

Woman), who grapples with the Holocaust

artist) and Michael Kaminer (journalist

and Israeli culture in her work. Corinne

and comic-arts collector). Much later, the “stories shifted to more individual narratives…that pack no less a punch for their bare-knuckled honesty.” Why so many Jewish women? Miriam Libicki’s “jobnik!” explores her difficult experiences in the Israeli Army.

Long-time comics artist Trina Robbins (a founder of Wimmen’s Comix in the 1970s) explains why the number of

the influential role of Jewish women

Jewish women cartoonists who broke

in the history of comics, particularly in

the gender barrier of underground comix

autobiographical works. In the 1970s,

is disproportionately high. She points

women comics artists had to fight to get their

out, in a Forward supplement covering


Na’amat Woman

WINTER 2011/2012

Miss Lasko-Gross created this image for the exhibition.

Na'amat Woman Asks Sarah Lightman:

Why Are There So Many Jewish Women Comics Artists? A spread from Ilana Zeffren’s graphic novel Sipoor Varod (Pink Story).


here are lots of ideas to consider about why I think Jewish women are attracted

to the space of comics to tell their stories; some of these reasons are specific to being Jewish and some less so. I think Jewish life is a constant litany of retelling and reliving stories. For example, we are encouraged every Pesach to feel like Sarah Lightman discusses the “Graphic Details” exhibition at the Yeshiva University Museum, which she co-curated with Michael Kaminer.

we personally came out of Egypt, and the weekly Torah readings at synagogue are extrapolated in sermons to ensure the Pearlman, who grew up in North London,

experiences of matriarchs and patriarchs

addresses her sense of identity as an

literature. Comics have maintained

relate to our own lives, even though we are

English Jew. Aline Kominsky-Crumb,

themselves as a democratic medium. Comic

separated by thousands of years. So, we can

a founder of the underground classic

making is open to everyone. You don’t need

see much of Jewish life is a training ground

Twisted Sisters in the 1970s, and a

to be trained to make a comic — and many

for us to learn to tell our own stories with both

collaborator with her husband Robert

of the artists in the Graphic Details show

a personal, yet also universal, relevance.

would consider themselves self-taught. And

Crumb, has long explored stereotypes

And why are women telling stories

comics are cheap and easy to make; you can

about Jewish women (and all women)

about themselves? Might it be that the

and their bodies in her autobiographical

just photocopy your pages and staple them

female experience was not often included

comics. Sharon Rudahl was one of the

together, and you have self-published. In

in those earlier Bible stories? With these

first women to have work published in

fact, this is how many comics artists start off.

comic stories about ourselves and our

underground comix and more recently

lives, we bring the female experience into

created a graphic biography of Emma

protected and controlled space for opening

the wider Jewish (and non-Jewish) world,

Goldman, A Dangerous Woman. Diane

up. A comic page is often constructed

dialogue and landscape.

through a number of drawn squares, like

Noomin intimately reveals the trauma of

Confessional comics are an

I also consider that comics offer a

a “waffle” shape. These shapes are used

pregnancy and infertility in “Baby Talk:

empowering space. Jewish women, who

A Tale of Four Miscarriages.” Sarah

as frames to tell the narrative, and with

may consider themselves outsiders, or

Lightman makes drawings as an evolving

their defined shapes, they can visually

discriminated against, may be attracted

diary of her life, offering us her poignant

contain and control a problem, anxiety or

to an art form that is considered an

“Dumped Before Valentine’s Day.” Other

bad experience. At the same time, as a

outsider and underground art form — it’s

artists are Vanessa Davis (see page

whole work, a comic offers a forum that

not found in the academies of fine art or

one can control, a stage set where you

25), Bernice Eisenstein, Sarah Glidden (see page 24), Miss Lasko-Gross, Miriam Libicki, Sarah Lazarovic, Racheli Rottner, Laurie Sandell, Ariel Schrag, Lauren Weinstein and Ilana Zeffren. This traveling exhibition will move on to Portland (Oregon), Ann Arbor and Vancouver after its run in Manhattan through April 15, 2012. — Judith A. Sokoloff

Corinne Pearlman addresses the need of Jewish women to confess.

are director, and also a star. In a world where one might feel being Jewish and/ or a woman in society brings complicated expectations and resistance, comics are a safe and controlled space to begin your exploration and self-discovery. A comic is an empowering space, where for those few pages, it’s your version of life that takes precedence. — Sarah Lightman

WINTER 2011/2012

Na’amat Woman


AROUND THE COUNTRY √ Mazel and Or clubs

πNatanya club (San Fernando Valley Council)

features a talk by photojournalist Irene Fertik, who has been documenting the Ethiopian-Israel community for the past 20 years. She is compiling her magnificent photos into a book “Tesfa to Tikva: From Hope to Hope.”

At AIDS Walk ® LA, members of San Fernando Valley Council demonstrate Israel’s support for AIDS research for a cure. The group was sponsored by the Israel Consulate in Los Angeles.

(South Florida Council) held a gala cabaret, cocktail party and dinner, which raised funds for Na’amat Israel. From left: Raquel Rub, national board member and council president; Dr. Mario Rub, pediatrician; Avishai Slochowski, CEO and president of Adex International; Dr. Beny Rub, pediatrician; Esther Peart, Steven Davis and Anabel Peicher, Mazel club president.

π Lorraine Caris, artist and national board member from

New Jersey, designed adorable Na’amat T-shirts for her grandchildren. Emblazoned with “Little tots ❤ Na’amat,” these T-shirts are available for sale by the Esther Goldsmith club with proceeds going to Na’amat ; see ad on page 31. From left: fashionistas Avangelina and Aviva Lager; Caleigh and Caris Cullaton. √ Kadima club

(Cleveland Council) holds its annual Spiritual Adoption dinner. The festive affair took place at the home of national board member Linda Schoenberg (second row, third from left), who prepared a gourmet Italian vegetarian meal.

πSouth Shore club (Long Island/Queens

Council) had a successful fund-raising weekend at Villa Vosilla in Tannersville, New York, in the beautiful Hunter Mountain region. From left: Sylvia Wishner, a raffle winner; Rhoda Orenstein, event co-chair; Cory Jacobi; Chuck James, hotel activities director; Eileen Jacobi, raffle winner and mother of Cory.


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WINTER 2011/2012

National president ® Elizabeth Raider was guest speaker at Cleveland Council’s opening meeting; her topic was Na’amat Israel at 90: Issues and Challenges. From left: Ms. Raider, national board member Linda Schoenberg, Rhoda Shapiro, and council treasurer Marguerite Morris.

πNew York and other Eastern Area members

πMembers of the Achava club (Chicago Council) meet with Sheila Weiss

(front, second from left), a genetic counselor from the Chicago Center for Jewish Genetics, who spoke about the genetic mutations of Ashkenazi Jews that may cause breast and ovarian cancer. Members were given resources and information on genetic testing and counseling.

celebrate the 95th birthday of dedicated member Hortense Zera at her home in Manhattan. National president Elizabeth Raider spoke at the event. “I’m so proud to be a member of Na’amat,” remarked Horty. “And we’re so proud to have you,” the group chimed in. She is shown with her daughters, Barbara Abramson, right, and Lanie Zera.

πMasada/Natanya club (Broward

πLong Island/Queens Council members enjoy the festivities

at their paid-up membership dinner. From left, seated: vice president Nadine Simon, Carol Greenberg, vice president Tal Ourian; standing: co-president Diane Hershkowitz, Sorell Balaban, Doris Shinners, Pearl Gersen, Evelyn Rubin, treasurer Reggie Rog and Eleanore Blackman.

Council) holds Literary Chai Luncheon featuring Bryna Kranzler, author of The Accidental Anarchist. The book is based on the diaries of her grandfather who chronicled his experiences in Poland and Siberia when he served in the czar’s army. Kranzler, left, is shown with Helen Cantor, club president.

πAvodah chapter in DeWitt, N.Y., hosts

Dr. Tigist Menari, an intern at SUNY Upstate Medical University. She talked about her experiences leaving Ethiopia — walking across the desert, living in a Sudanese refugee camp and finally coming to Israel on the Operation Moses airlift. She plans to return to Israel when her schooling is completed. Dr. Menari is flanked by co-presidents Pam Morris, left, and Lois Weiner.

πSabra club in Brooklyn holds gala fashion

show and dinner fund-raiser. From left: Toby Skier; Gwen Rosen; Debbie Kohn, national treasurer; Debbie Troy-Stewart, national board; Bernie Resnick, who took charge when his wife Isabel, event chair, became ill; and Ange Nadel, Eastern Area administrative assistant.

π Washington Council’s Annual Book & Author Luncheon features, from left, Daniel Byman, author of A High Price: The Triumphs and Failures of Israeli Counterterrorism; Liliane Willens, author of Stateless in Shanghai; and Marvin Kalb and Deborah Kalb, father and daughter authors of Haunting Legacy: Vietnam and the American Presidency from Ford to Obama.

WINTER 2011/2012

Na’amat Woman


Welcome to the New Life Members of Na’amat USA EASTERN AREA Florence Aaron Silver Spring, Md. Harriet Abraham Fayetteville, N.Y. Amy Abrams Chevy Chase, Md. Carol Adler Manchester, N.J. Sara Alexander Fayetteville, N.Y. Betty Becker Baldwin Harbor, N.Y. Stephanie Bergman Fayetteville, N.Y. Tina B. Berlad Hopkinton, Mass. Karen Berliner Brooklyn, N.Y. Lorraine Bernstein Silver Spring, Md. Florence L. Brown Silver Spring, Md. Sylvia Cohen Jamesville, N.Y. Marcia Crystal Silver Spring, Md. Haley Eggert Short Hills, N.J. Anna Einbinder Silver Spring, Md. Emily Eisenberg Washington, D.C. Deborah Elisha Cherry Hill, N.J. Hinda Exler Annapolis, Md. Charlotte Freeman Potomac, Md. Gisha Friedman Silver Spring, Md. Charlotte Geller Baltimore, Md. Esther Ginsburg Silver Spring, Md. Jennifer Grad New York, N.Y. Carol Greenberg Plainview, N.Y. Honey Greenberg Jackson, N.J. Celaine Hershdorfer DeWitt, N.Y. Barbara Hertzbach Silver Spring, Md. Rebecca S. Jones Brooklyn, N.Y. Marilyn Jordan Silver Spring, Md. Michal Juran Manlius, N.Y.


Marjorie Oster Feliu Miami, Fla. Doris Fishler Royal Palm Beach, Fla. Doris Fleishman Boynton Beach, Fla. Helen Ginsburg Pembroke Pines, Fla. Anne Gorenstein Boynton Beach, Fla. Fanny Grossman Boynton Beach, Fla. Florence Henner Boynton Beach, Fla. Mona Hochberg Boynton Beach, Fla. Charlotte Jennings Boynton Beach, Fla. Miriam Kardonick Tamarac, Fla. Dianne Kieffer Royal Palm Beach, Fla. Rebeca Kravec Bal Harbour, Fla. Selma Linsky Boynton Beach, Fla. Hannah Millman Boynton Beach, Fla. Elaine Muller Boynton Beach, Fla. Carol Needleman Boynton Beach, Fla. Nancy Newman Boynton Beach, Fla. Nima Okun Delray Beach, Fla. Lila Beatrice Oster Boynton Beach, Fla. Meri-Jane Rochelson Miami, Fla. Stella Rosenthal Surfside, Fla. Nyjama Sasson Hollywood, Fla. Francine Shapiro SOUTHEAST AREA Coconut Creek, Fla. Shirley Shapiro Matilde Behar Boynton Beach, Fla. Aventura, Fla. Pearl Shore Florence Bell Boynton Beach, Fla. Pembroke Pines, Fla. Barbara Stravitz Bernice Coder Pembroke Pines, Fla. Boynton Beach, Fla. Rita Tulchiner Mildred Cohen Pembroke Pines, Fla. Tamarac, Fla. Rhoda Wagner Miriam Cohn Boynton Beach, Fla. Naples, Fla. Martzi Wolkove Melissa Deeney Tamarac, Fla. Kernersville, N.C.. Berta Edery Hollywood, Fla. Florence Kaplan Silver Spring, Md. Harriet Katz Silver Spring, Md. Beverly Kazden Silver Spring, Md. Phoebe Kent Silver Spring, Md. Karen Lawitts Jamesville, N.Y. Gail Leon Silver Spring, Md. Miriam Lester Jamesville, N.Y. Mildred Lewitter Lakewood, N.J. Pamela Morris Fayetteville, N.Y. Michelle Murphy Great Neck, N.Y. Paula Pepperstone DeWitt, N.Y. Helen Powell Syracuse, N.Y. Karen Roberts DeWitt, N.Y. Liza Rochelson Fayetteville, N.Y. Ann Schlesinger West Islip, N.Y. Trudy Sinn Laurel Hollow, N.Y. Sandy Spencer Plainview, N.Y. Ruth Sternick Plainview, N.Y. Gertrude Tepper Manlius, N.Y. Elaine Weber, Silver Spring, Md. Annette Ziegler Natick, Mass. Marian Zucker East Hampton, N.Y.

Na’amat Woman

WINTER 2011/2012

MIDWEST AREA Amy Ashe Glen Ellyn, Ill. Anita Ashe Skokie, Ill. Annie Ashe Chicago, Ill. Aryel Ashe Skokie, Ill. Rachel Beck Mt. Prospect, Ill. Sylvia Blain Beachwood, Ohio Betsy Blumenthal Downers Grove, Ill. Dianne Cartwright Norton, Ohio Marla Chorney Skokie, Ill. Rosalyn Disbro Lyndhurst, Ohio Adeline Domnitz Milwaukee, Wis. Deborah Dubin Vernon Hills, Ill. Alyssa Duvel Buffalo Grove, Ill. Sofia Dziadek Skokie, Ill. Joan R. Eisen Pittsburgh, Pa. Francine Eisner Buffalo Grove, Ill. Susan Epstein Hubbard, Ohio Kathleen Farbman Youngstown, Ohio Carolyn Felton Akron, Ohio Diana Fenichel Cincinnati, Ohio Juanita Fish Cleveland, Ohio Beverly Flintrop Mequon, Wis. Lynne Fogel Chesterfield, Mo. Greta Foster Akron, Ohio Alice Franklin Hubbard, Ohio Nancy Goldberg St. Louis, Mo. Elyce Goldstein Highland Park, Ill. Judi Goode Deerfield, Ill. Claire Hack Chesterfield, Mo. Elaine Jaffe Beachwood, Ohio

Marlene J. Jeral Chicago, Ill. Nancy Kahan Skokie, Ill. Sherry Kaplan St. Louis, Mo. Sally Katz Akron, Ohio Irene Kellerman Fairlawn, Ohio Saretta Kessler Buffalo Grove, Ill. Ruth Kiem Chesterfield, Mo. Helen Kornspan Youngstown, Ohio Amanda K. Lapin Chicago, Ill. Judy Lemberger Lincolnwood, Ill. Bernice Levine Pittsburgh, Pa. Michal Levine Akron, Ohio Karen Lewison Andover, Ill. Devera Lucker Pittsburgh, Pa. Audrey Martin Cincinnati, Ohio Debbie Miller Buffalo Grove, Ill. Marsha Miller Skokie, Ill. Sherrie Miller Akron, Ohio Andrea Minster Akron, Ohio Susan Namen Beachwood, Ohio Katie Orleans Deerfield, Ill. Judy Pearlstone St. Louis, Mo. Gail Pittelman Milwaukee, Wis. Leona Pollock Akron, Ohio Mina Rosenberg Pittsburgh, Pa. Elaine Ross Buffalo Grove, Ill. Elisa Rotman Northbrook, Ill. Rhonda Schwartz Buffalo Grove, Ill. Selma Schwartz Pittsburgh, Pa. Patsy Siff Fairlawn, Ohio

Hazel Handelman Las Vegas, Nev. Rachael Isaac Sherman Oaks, Cal. Toby Kalish Laguna Hills, Cal. Brenda Katz Las Vegas, Nev. Wendy Kaye Paradise Valley, Ariz. Janet S. Klion Las Vegas, Nev. Carol Kurz Calabasas, Cal. Harriet Kutzman Las Vegas, Nev. Farideh Lalezeri Tarzana, Cal. Sherel G. Lerner Encino, Cal. Miriam Levitan Woodland Hills, Cal. Julia A. Libling Paradise Valley, Ariz. Vicky Machlis Encino, Cal. Celia Marsh Laguna Woods, Cal. Shelly Melcer Las Vegas, Nev. WESTERN AREA Joanna Mendelson Evelyn Bauer Sherman Oaks, Cal. Sherman Oaks, Cal. Barbara Mescon Liz Seligman Bravo Sherman Oaks, Cal. Laguna Woods, Cal. Sheila K. Michelman Miryam Brewer Sherman Oaks, Cal. Portland, Ore. Fern Moskowitz Claire Bruno Las Vegas, Nev. Santa Monica, Cal. Esther Mueller Marilyn Bulmash Encino, Cal. Las Vegas, Nev. Marjorie Nayfack Helene Chemel Woodland Hills, Cal. Laguna Woods, Cal. Naomi N. Noskoff Estee Copans Sherman Oaks, Cal. Laguna Woods, Cal. Michele Piehi Lynne Davidson Sherman Oaks, Cal. Las Vegas, Nev. Cecile F. Rohde Ylla DeLeon Laguna Woods, Cal. Los Angeles, Cal. Gertie Sanders Joyce Edelson Westlake Village, Cal. Porter Ranch, Cal. Lea Sasson Barbara Finberg Paradise Valley, Ariz. Sherman Oaks, Cal. Sheri Schoenwald Nomi Freed Westlake Village, Cal. Thousand Oaks, Cal. Enid Schulman Linda Ginsberg Scottsdale, Ariz. Las Vegas, Nev. Debbie Seplow Sylvia Goldstein Carefree, Ariz. Signal Hill, Cal. Felina Shvarts Paula Greene Woodland Hills, Cal. Las Vegas, Nev. Evelyn Skolnick Beachwood, Ohio Cecilia Soibel Ballwin, Mo. Elizabeth Strand Dodgeville, Wis. Ilene Templer Arlington Heights, Ill. Robin Tobias Akron, Ohio Heidi Treblow Pittsburgh, Pa. Diane M. Troutman Pittsburgh, Pa. Susan S. Walsh Cincinnati, Ohio Rachel Winokur Chicago, Ill. Faye Wish Akron, Ohio Merlene S. Young Pittsburgh, Pa. Elisa Yuter Vernon Hills, Ill. Maxene Zion Beachwood, Ohio Shirley Zionts Pittsburgh, Pa.

Thank you, Life Members! Esther Siniakin Sherman Oaks, Cal. Leah Staszower Tarzana, Cal. Denise Stavsky Los Angeles, Cal. Sarah Stein Laguna Woods, Cal. Sylvia Tillman Woodland Hills, Cal. Tobie Trietman Reseda, Cal. Darlene Vaturi Las Vegas, Nev. Elysa G. Waldholz Los Angeles, Cal. Rita Wenger Encino, Cal. Cynthia G. Yehezkel Sherman Oaks, Cal. FRIEND Richard Becker St. Louis, Mo. AFFILIATE LIFE MEMBERS Cassidy Violet Bardelman 4 months old Berkeley, Cal. Sponsored by her mother Samantha Kohn Bardelman Kyla Gurvitch 14 months old Scarsdale, N.Y. Sponsored by her mother Adar Gurvitch

Circle of Hope Donors

Na’amat USA is grateful to the following for their generosity. Thank you for helping at-risk Israeli teenagers achieve scholastic success and personal growth in Na’amat technological high schools. One ($1,600) or More Sunny & Max Howard Memorial Foundation Ruby & Martin Vogelfanger Others Alma & Gabriel Elias Elaine Knopp

NA’AMAT USA wishes to thank the following for renewing their lifetime commitment by donating a special gift of $85. The families helped by NA’AMAT are grateful, too!

Andrea Abromowitz Sheila Adler Rhoda Agin Ann Albert Isabel Anderson Renee Arbitman Thelmarea Arbitman Herschel Asner Shirley Asner Rose Bennett Rita Berman Laura Beytas H. Jean Birnbaum Marsha Blackman Lois Brazen Miriam Brillman Marilyn Bristol M. Christin Bryne Stacey Chulew Francine E. Cohen Lynne Cole Marlene Colonomos Estelle T. Crozier

Kathleen Davidoff Lois Davis Yaffa Dermer Adela DeVatora Florence Dobrin Barbara Elman Fannie Falk Thalia Faye Debby Firestone Joseph H. Fisher Patricia Fisher Myrna Fistel Roslyn Flegel Sara B. Fletcher Charlotte Fogel Bessie Frumin Charlotte Garfinkel Susan Glover Helen Gold Barbara Grau Gloria Greek Gloria Green Marcia Greenberg

Barbara Gubernick Janet Gurvitch Susan Haas Irene Hack Hazel Handelman Lucille Helman Esther Hirsh Annette Hockman Susan Isaacs Gale Jacobsohn Bertha Jaffe Shirley Jefferson Lois Joseph Claire Kaplan Pearl Karmasin Minda Kataczinsky Sandra Katz Terri Kline Rachel Kluchnik Debra L. Kohn Harriet Kruman Frieda S. Leemon Betty R. Lenk

Sandra Levenson Nancy Levin Cecilia Levine Florence Levine Diana Lewis Robin Lieberman Judith Liebman Loretta Lipka Joan P. Locke Linda Lord Renee Mansdorf Laura Marcus Dorothy Margolis Edith Margolis Wendy Margolis Marcia Markowitz Janel Mendel Laurie Merel Dorothy Meyers Carole Michail Eleanor Miller Maxine Miller Marjorie C. Moidel

In Time for the Holidays – T-Shirts for the Kinderlach! Share Your Love of Na’amat! “Little Tots ❤ Na’amat” is the message on these adorable T-shirts, available in pink, dark blue and light blue, sizes 6 mo. to 6 years. Only $9.98 plus $3.99 shipping. Quantity discounts available for clubs/councils. Call Debbie at 732-341-6892 to order by credit card, or make check out to Na’amat USA Esther Goldsmith club, 60 Sutton Place, Toms River, NJ 08753.

NA’AMAT USA would love to be in touch with you! Go to and sign up to receive special newsletters and the latest information via e-mail — or send your e-mail address to Na’amat USA values your privacy. Your e-mail address will never be sold or provided to an outside party.

Janice Moranz Marguerite Morris Arline Nitzberg Barbara Oleinick Jacqueline Oster Donna Padnos Vivian Paley Marcia Pevsner Patricia C. Pitt Ada Pivo Aida Politano Ana-Karina Politano Frances Pules Elizabeth Raider Judy Ritzenberg Brenda Rosenbaum Laura Rosenberg Edythe Rosenfield Gail Rothstein Susan Rudolph Andrea Schuster Saewitz Norma Salz

Ellen Saltz Shirley Sokolsky Lyvia Schaefer Marcia Solochek Irene Schankman Karen Sorongon Joyce Schildkraut Susanne Spellberg Linda Schoenberg June Sperling Lillian Stein Annie Schoenfeld Miriam Schulman Pearl Topper Pearl Schwed Gail Weber Evelyn Scull Ruth Weiser Judy Searle Eda Weiss Gail Shapiro Thelma Wexler Gloria Brooks Shapiro Chai Wilensky Yaira A. Shapiro Chellie Goldwater Wilensky Miriam Sherman Dyna Wise Rita Sherman Carole Wolsh Naomi Shisler Dolly Zavell Natalie Shustrin Raena Zucker Irene Siegel Evelyn Zwiebach Susan Silberman Gail Simpson Evelyn Skolnik Elaine Skopp Marion Smith

Statement of Ownership, Management and Circulation. Publication title: NA’AMAT WOMAN. Publication no.: 0433800. Filing date: October 1, 2011. Issue frequency: Quarterly. Number of issues published annually: 4. Annual subscription price: $10.00. Complete mailing address of known office of publication: 505 Eighth Avenue, Suite 2302, New York, N.Y. 10018 - New York County. Contact person and telephone number: G. Gross, 212-563-5222. Mailing address of headquarters or general business office of publisher: 505 Eighth Avenue, Suite 2302, New York, N.Y. 10018. Full names and complete mailing addresses of publisher, editor and managing editor: Publisher: Judith A. Sokoloff, c/o NA’AMAT USA, 505 Eighth Avenue, Suite 2302, New York, N.Y. 10018. Editor: Judith A. Sokoloff, c/o NA’AMAT USA, 505 Eighth Avenue, Suite 2302, New York, N.Y. 10018. Managing Editor: None. Owner: NA’AMAT USA, 505 Eighth Avenue, Suite 2302, New York, N.Y. 10018. Known bondholders, mortgagees, and other security holders owning or holding one percent or more of total amount of bonds, mortgages, or other securities: None. Publication name: NA’AMAT WOMAN. Issue date for circulation data below: Fall 2011. Average no. of copies each issue during preceding 12 months: 9,400. Paid/requested outside county mail subscriptions: 9,019. Paid in-county mail subscriptions: 2. Sales through dealers and carriers, street vendors, counter sales, and other non-USPS paid distribution: 25. Other classes mailed through USPS: 30. Total paid and/or requested mail circulation: 9,075. Free distribution by mail outside of county: 0. Free distribution by mail in county: 0. Other classes mailed through USPS: 0. Free distribution outside the mail: 0. Total free distribution: 0. Total distribution: 9,075. Copies not distributed: 325. Total: 9,400. Percent paid and/or requested circulation: 96.5 percent. Actual no. of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date: 8,761. Paid/requested outside county mail subscriptions: 8,384. Paid in-county mail subscriptions: 2. Sales through dealers and carriers, street vendors, counter sales, and other non-USPS paid distribution: 25. Other classes mailed through USPS: 30. Total paid and/or requested mail circulation: 8,441. Free distribution by mail outside of county: 0. Free distribution by mail in county: 0. Other classes mailed through USPS: 0. Free distribution outside the mail: 0. Total free distribution: 0. Total distribution: 8,441. Copies not distributed: 320. Total: 8,761. Percent paid and/or requested circulation: 96.4 percent. I certify that all information furnished on this form is true and complete. — Judith A. Sokoloff, Editor.

WINTER 2011/2012

Na’amat Woman


Connect With the Women and Youth of Israel. Join Na’amat USA! The largest women’s organization in Israel, Na’amat works to improve the status of women and provides educational and social services for women, children, teenagers and families.

A Voice for Women and Children — A Voice for Israel.

With 300,000 members — Jewish, Arab and Druze women — and 30 branches, Na’amat provides a huge social service network throughout all of Israel.

DAY CARE for 18,000

children, infants through preschoolers, including 25 MULTIPURPOSE centers for at-risk children

agricultural boarding schools, vocational training classes for adult Jewish women and women in the Arab and Druze communities

Thirty LEGAL AID BUREAUS provide

women with legal advice and representation for issues relating to employment, divorce, marriage, single parenting and aging

Glickman Center for the Preven­tion and Treatment of Domestic Violence and a

shelter for battered women

Community centers and women’s clubs throughout the entire country Fighting for the advancement of women so they can be full and equal

participants in the social, economic and political spheres of Israeli society

SCHOLARSHIPS for women to pursue higher


Assisting in the social integration and education of new immigrants Five Women’s rights centers provide legal, financial and family counseling; mediation, workshops and support groups For more information, please contact NA’AMAT USA, 505 Eighth Avenue, Suite 2302 New York, N.Y. 10018 Phone: 212-563-5222 Web site:

Photos by Judith A. Sokoloff


TECHNOLOGICal high schools, two

NA'AMAT USA Winter 2011 Magazine  

NA’AMAT is celebrating 90 years as one of the largest Jewish women’s organizations united to enhance the quality of life for women and child...

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