Magazine of Na’amat USA
Spring 2012 Vol. XXVII No.2
With an empowered and consensus-based approach, DIYers are spawning innovative projects to satisfy their thirst for knowledge, connection and personal meaning in Judaism. By Rahel Musleah
Editor Judith A. Sokoloff
Mayim Bialik Speaks Out for Na’amat ...........................................................9
Assistant Editor Gloria Gross
The well-known actress is proud to be involved.
Art Director Marilyn Rose
Israel’s Battle Over Hadarat Nashim (Exclusion of Women).........................10 Will a small minority of religious extremists be permitted to dictate their way of life to the majority of
Editorial Committee Harriet Green Sylvia Lewis Sharon Sutker McGowan Elizabeth Raider Shoshana Riemer Edythe Rosenfield Lynn Wax
Israeli citizens? By Judith Sudilovsky
Taking on the Challenges of Multiculturalism and Coexistence....................14 Focusing on their common interests, Na’amat Israel brings together women from all ethnic and religious backgrounds to foster understanding and respect. By Judy Telman
Na’amat usa Officers PRESIDENT Elizabeth Raider VICE PRESIDENTS Gail Simpson Chellie Goldwater Wilensky
RECORDING SECRETARY Norma Kirkell Sobel
Around the Country...................................................28
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.
Take Action!..............................................................31 Our cover: Women construct a quilt that personalizes their Jewish values. See story on DIY Judaism, page 4.
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Heart to Heart: My Own Kaddish by Marsha Pincus.......... 18
FINANCIAL SECRETARY Irene Hack
by Elizabeth Raider..........................
Life in Israel: The Teak Table by Michele Chabin. .............. 16
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14 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
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.
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s I began to write my president’s message, I was reminded that President Obama’s first piece of legislation that he signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, an important statement of his commitment to the pursuit of equal pay for women. Although the Paycheck Fairness Act was passed by the House in 2009, it still awaits passage by the Senate, which denied a cloture vote by a minority of senators in 2010. In a recent article written by Lilly Ledbetter, she comments: “I went to court and won, but in an appeal, the Supreme Court claimed I should have filed my complaint within six months of the unfair paycheck. Of course, they didn’t say how I was supposed to fight for fair pay when I didn’t know I was being paid unfairly.” Since its very inception, Na’amat USA has always been a strong advocate for women’s rights in all spheres of our lives. Over the 86 years that we have been in existence, we have written to our House and Senate representatives — first with letters and postcards, now by e-mails and online petitions — urging equal rights in the workplace and home, in matters concerning domestic violence and rape, and the right of choice. In Israel, Na’amat is a significant and effective advocate for women’s rights. Our sister organization’s many social services and agencies give the women of Israel a strong voice. On November 22, 2011, Na’amat Israel marked the International Day for Prevention of Violence Against Women with a conference dealing with economic control over women, organized by its Women’s Rights Department. Attended by more than 400 women, the conference featured
speakers Talia Livni, Na’amat Israel president; MK Tzipi Hotovely, chair of the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women; and Vered Sweid, director general of the Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women in the Prime Minister’s Office. Livni noted that “economic violence is the less familiar side of violence against women, whether it goes together with physical violence or stands on its own,” adding that many women are powerless to extricate themselves from situations where men have an economic hold over them. “Economic empowerment is a basic tool to prevent and treat women who have been victims of violence,” she emphasized. A survey on economic violence, released by Na’amat on that day, revealed that 17 percent of the women polled were not free to use their own bank accounts, and 30 percent needed their partners’ approval to purchase something for themselves. On December 24, 2011, Na’amat Israel women participated in a demonstration in Beit Shemesh protesting extremists’ demands to exclude women from public life. Talia Livni stated: “The atrocity of women’s exclusion is a crime and endangers the ‘delicate texture’ of the Israeli society. The current situation is intolerable, and Na’amat will fight against all discrimination against women.” The Jerusalem Post ran an article (Jan. 12, 2012) about the participation of “freedom riders” from Na’amat Israel and other social organizations who were sitting in the front of buses in various areas of Israel to protest exclusion of women from the public
arena. Na’amat spokesperson Carmel Eitan was quoted as saying that Na’amat ’s participation was not to provoke, but rather to protest against “those who allow this discrimination to take place in the public sphere.” (See more on this issue on page 10.) Since the early 1920s, Na’amat Israel has developed many programs and services based on the needs and requests of Israeli women. Its Women’s Rights Department oversees many of these activities. There are currently five women’s rights centers, operating in Jerusalem, Haifa, Petach Tikva, Tel Aviv and Beersheva. The Glickman Center and Shelter in Tel Aviv provides assistance for victims of domestic violence. Several years ago, Na’a m at launched a program to encourage working women to attain managerial skills and a higher level of employment as well as to network with each other. The response was enthusiastic, and the program has expanded, increasing women’s opportunities to advance their careers. Na’amat is also helping women in Israel to receive preventative medical care, to get counseling during major medical crises, and to get advice when seeking medical care and support through their recuperation and integration back into a normal routine. As members of Na’amat USA, we are an important force in helping to provide these basic services that are a part of everyday life, which occur regardless of Israel’s internal political and economic situations. Our effort to support the work of Na’amat is a vital ongoing process, which is especially important as Israel faces increasing threats of attacks from neighboring states. When the political situation forces the Israel government tocontinued on page 25 SPRING 2012
n the remote Panamint It’s Do-It-Yourself JudaValley desert of Southism, or as Brooklyn digital ern California, Sarai strategist and Web designer Shapiro, 31, will be celDaniel Sieradski puts it, “Jew ebrating Passover with It Yourself” (the name of his a community of about 150, Web site). One DIY project connecting to herself, God may look very different from and nature. Each participant another, but their battle cries in the Berkeley-based “Wilare similar: Take back the derness Torah” festival proownership of your own Jewish gram that she coordinates experiences. Find fulfillment will have a role in the mulby accessing what is meaningtigenerational “village” they ful to you, individually or in a will create together: teachcommunity. Embrace diversity ers, musicians, cooks, healers, and inclusiveness. Learn what council members and more. you need in order to create On one of the five days of the what you want. festival, people will go out on Characterized by this ema mini-exodus of their own to powered and consensus-based bring awareness to their perapproach, DIYers are spawnsonal life journeys. “It’s such ing innovative projects to an empowering way of being satisfy their thirst for knowlpart of a Jewish community edge, connection and personal and experiencing this tribe of meaning, often outside the Jewish people,” says Shapiro, lines of established instituwho also organizes Shavuot Illustrations by Avi Katz tions. A DIYer might be the on the Mountain, Sukkot on individual who searches for the Farm and Tu B’Shvat in online resources to fashion a Do-It-Yourself! With an empowered and meaningful seder or a sustainRedwood Park. “People step into a place of leadership they able Hanukkah celebration, haven’t stepped into before. or a participant in the nearly consensus-based approach, DIYers are It’s a process of creating com100 lay-led, volunteer-driven munity from the ground up.” independent minyanim (comspawning innovative projects to satisfy From his MacBook Pro munal or spiritual groups) at home in Atlanta, Georthat have sprung up across the gia, Patrick Aleph, 29, leads their thirst for knowledge, connection and country. DIYers have initiated the online grassroots Jewish projects like Moishe Houses, a community he has created, network (now up to 46 homes personal meaning in Judaism. PunkTorah.org. With a small in 14 countries) through which staff and volunteers across the twentysomethings plan and country, he has developed nuprovide Jewish programming by RAHEL MUSLEAH merous multimedia projects for their college-grad peers in that offer a variety of entry exchange for rent subsidies; points into Judaism, including and Kevah, which brings totwo siddurim (prayerbooks), six e-books, minyan broadcasting live interactive gether groups of friends who convene two YouTube channels, a Tweet on classes, prayer services, holiday events regularly to study Jewish texts in comfortJewish law, and Web sites about God and a virtual prayer wall for yahrzeit able settings. And many DIYers gather and kashrut (TheG-dProject.org and (memorial) and misheberach (prayer at Limmud (Learning), a massive annual NewKosher.org). He has even estab- for the sick). “We use contemporary conference planned completely by volunlished what he calls OneShul.org, the tools to promote something ancient,” teers that bills itself as an “opportunity to world’s first virtual, lay-led independent says Aleph. craft your own Jewish world.” 4
“In an age when many American Jews are increasingly unaffiliated, disaffiliated, post-denominational, post-institutional and ‘fluid’ in their identities,” writes Sieradski in “A Jew-It-Yourself Mini-Manifesto” (Sh’ma, Feb. 2010), a younger generation of Jews informed by the openness of the Internet has harnessed its own “imaginations, inquisitiveness, and appreciation for the Jewish tradition…to forge new communities of thought and practice.” DIY proclaims the individual as master of his or her own Judaism, undertaking a spiritual quest not tied to any denomination, hierarchy or central leadership. A decade ago, sociologist Steven Cohen and American Judaism scholar Arnold Eisen (now chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary) described “The Sovereign Self: Jewish Identity in Post-Modern America” (Jerusalem Letter, May 2001): “Today’s…Jews are even less interested in denominational differences than their parents’ generation was, insisting on the right of individual autonomy when it comes to deciding the details of Jewish practice. On the other hand, theology is far from irrelevant. God is often quite important to them; spirituality is a felt concern; ritual and texts resonate with religious meanings that they view positively…. They want to be Jewish because of what it means to them personally — not because of obligations to the Jewish group….” Personal meaning is the arbiter of Jewish involvement for this generation, say Cohen and Eisen, and Jewish meaning is “constructed, one experience at a time.” According to Shaul Kelner, assistant professor of sociology and Jewish studies at Vanderbilt University, the
DIY proclaims the individual as master of his or her own Judaism, undertaking a spiritual quest not tied to any denomination, hierarchy or central leadership.
DIY phenomenon in general American culture emerged in the 1970s as a reaction to the mass-produced, homogenized and highly commercialized music industry. People started producing their own art and music instead of being passive consumers. “Today’s Jewish activists have picked up this critique,” writes Kelner (Sh’ma, 2010). “I can’t stand cookie-cutter Judaism,” says Jay Michaelson, 40, a writer, scholar and activist whose work addresses the intersections of religion, sexuality, spirituality and law. A contributing editor to the Forward, Michaelson wrote an article last year entitled, “Don’t Call the Rabbi, Make Your Own Rituals.” “I don’t want to follow orders,” he says. “I don’t want to be a customer, a consumer or an audience member. I want to be a participant, a co-creator and a co-owner of the world I inhabit.” Michaelson did exactly that in planning his wedding this past summer. Though a rabbi friend officiated,
Michaelson composed and wrote his own ketubah (marriage contract) in language based on the traditional form — reinterpreted and adapted for a same-sex couple. He and his partner created and took vows, which are rare in Jewish tradition. Michaelson, who has developed numerous rituals and liturgies for Shabbat, holidays and lifecycle occasions, and recently officiated at the funeral of a family member, admits his level of fluency with Judaism is high, but, he says, “a huge percentage of Jewish practice doesn’t require a paid expert.” The independent minyan movement espouses that philosophy. Its major voice is Mechon Hadar, an educational institution that seeks to “create and sustain vibrant, practicing, egalitarian communities of Torah learning, prayer and service” through two main initiatives: Yeshivat Hadar, the first full-time egalitarian yeshiva in North America, and the Minyan Project, which provides resources to the network of independent minyanim. Rabbi Elie Kaunfer, one of Mechon Hadar’s leaders and co-founders, aptly titled his recent book, Empowered Judaism: What Independent Minyanim Can Teach Us About Building Vibrant Jewish Communities (Jewish Lights). DIYers agree that Judaism has always encouraged ownership of one’s religious life. Sieradski even positions Abraham as the first DIY Jew who, according to the midrash, set out on his own path after smashing his father’s idols. In the most recent past, the initiation of the havurah movement in the 1970s reflected the search for alternatives to institutional Judaism. The National Havurah Committee (NHC) continues to spearhead a network of diverse indiSPRING 2012
viduals and communities who, according His online community asks spiritual and to its Web site, “envision a joyful grasspractical questions all the time, he roots Judaism, and has provided says, and he wants to facilitate the tools to help people create the answers. “DIY means eduempowered Jewish lives and cated people making their communities. The NHC is… own decisions as opposed to nondenominational, multiuneducated people thinking generational, egalitarian and they don’t have the right to volunteer-run.” make decisions. Therefore, One of the benefits of DIY “The issue in the 1960s we have an obligation to and ’70s was that nobody was study, so we can come to our taking personal responsibility own decisions and concluJudaism — that there’s no one for their own Jewish life and sions.” figuring out what they needed DIY Judaism spans all way to be an authentic Jew — and how to get it,” says Shathe denominations and does ron Strassfeld, 61, who, in the not necessarily imply an out1960s and ’70s, co-edited the sider status, says Michaelson, may also be its drawback: There three editions of The Jewish who has lived Conservative, Catalog, a “do-it-yourself kit” Orthodox and non-Orthomay be no common thread we that taught everything from dox lifestyles and has incorhow to make a tallit to “usporated other spiritual traing the Jewish establishment ditions into his practice. He can learn from. — a reluctant guide.” Now a dodges the question of his real estate investor who lives current denominational afin Great Barrington, Massafiliation, preferring to call chusetts, Strassfeld says that himself “non-denominationthe three books sought to al” (“It’s easier to say what I increase comfort level with am not”). He founded Netradition. hirim, a national commuSo how innovative is nity of lesbian, gay, bisexual DIY Judaism? What’s new, and transgender Jews who says Michaelson, is the ethos are committed to creating “a and the mass scale. People in more inclusive and just relitheir 20s and 30s take for granted that ken to and had no resources,” he says. gious world.” The experience of exclusion they will be creating their own experi- Loneliness motivated him to start the led him and others to innovation, but it ences, he says, much like generating a PunkTorah blog in 2009: “I wanted to is not a necessary component, he notes. playlist on an iPod rather than simply find my place.” In fact, traditional and knowledgespinning a record. Aleph adopted his last name as an able Jews often do more themselves, “I don’t think the individual inde- adult (partly to remove himself from and some Orthodox Jews are countpendent spirit is new,” agrees Aleph. conventional Jewish geography) and ing themselves among DIYers. Several “What’s different this time is the huge intentionally chose to label his Jewish independent minyanim, for instance, role of technology.” He clarifies that identity with the punk descriptive. “It’s follow the model of the “partnership DIYers use two kinds of technologies: the most aggressive term you can use minyan,” in which women are included tools and communities. “YouTube and for an outsider rebel innovator,” he ex- in ritual leadership (they may read Tobooks are tools that show videos and plains. “It’s meant to shock people out rah, receive aliyot and lead parts of the provide information. Social media like of complacency and into the reality of service like kabbalat Shabbat), but a Facebook creates community, real com- what Judaism is about: the individual quorum of 10 men is required; men and munity, the same as a synagogue or JCC.” relationship to the divine.” He is espe- women are separated by a mehitza, and A punk musician who grew up non- cially adamant about every individual’s the traditional liturgy is used. religious, Aleph attended a community access to education. “Jewish learning is It’s in the progressive Jewish world college and began exploring Judaism at not confined to those who go to rabbin- that creating Jewish experience requires age 23. He felt like an outsider in the ical school. It’s about the individual tak- education, effort and persistence — and Atlanta-area synagogues he attended — ing control. Every person who wants to DIY Judaism is not for those who “want too religious for the liberal community, enter into the Jewish experience owns answers handed to them on platter,” too liberal for the Orthodox world, and Torah. There’s no qualification.” says Michaelson. “There’s a reason there marginalized by the academically oriParadoxically, Aleph is now studying are mega synagogues,” adds Aleph. “It’s ented Jewish perspective. “I was part to be a rabbi — through the distance- easy and comforting to have someone of a community that was not being spo- based Rabbinical Seminary International. do it for you. DIY organizations don’t 6
have the same financial resources, brand names or seal of approval. That forces us to work harder. You can’t do this and be lazy. But there’s a feeling that you matter.” Sieradski was one of the first to tap into the impulse of DIYers to share their knowledge. “Jewschool,” the blog he pioneered in 2002, kicked off the trend on how to “do” Judaism. Opensourcehaggadah. com, another Sieradski project (2003), facilitates the assembly of a customized Haggadah and encourages Jews to construct their prayer experience. The Yelp-like ShulShopper.com allowed individuals to locate synagogues and independent minyanim, then to read and post reviews; it floundered because Jewish funders were wary of its potentially critical nature, says Sieradski, who calls himself a “post-Orthodox,” or “post-halachic Jew”: “Sincere spiritual introspection and adherence to one’s innate, God-given sense of righteousness is more important than strict adherence to halacha.” One new Jew-It-Yourself project focuses on an engaging series of three- to
five-minute videos on meaningful options for Shabbat rituals, or how to do Shabbat at home with friends.
traditions.” In its early years, the havurah was “counter-establishment,” with a looseleaf siddur, its own Sunday school, hile havurot have become more a rotating program committee of four and mainstream — some meeting in synagogue spaces — they are still a source no president. As people married and had children, they also joined established of nourishment and creativity for their synagogues, exchanging the looseleaf members. The Baltimore Jewish Cultural Chavurah started in 1973 with four couples pages for a hardcover siddur. “Our havurah is a family. We get together to learn, eat, and has stabilized at a membership of 38 ranging in age from 50s to 70s. They meet pray, and do tzedakah,” says Lipsitz. “As our own children married, we wondered if twice a month in homes and organize one it would be possible to bring greater Jewish overnight retreat a year. spiritual meaning into lifecycle occasions.” “We’ve always been independent,” One young bride-to-be inspired a new says member Gail Lipsitz, 65. “We ritual, Isha l’Isha (Woman to Woman), a represent the entire spectrum of bridal celebration that conveys the passing denominations and have blended and on of Jewish tradition and wisdom from respected each other’s diversity and
DIY Judaism provides free or lowcost alternatives to experience Jewish life, adds Sieradski, co-organizer of Occupy Judaism, which he describes as Occupy Wall Street’s independent minyan. This past Yom Kippur, 1,500 people participated in a Kol Nidrei service organized in just two days. “We didn’t charge. No one was asked to make a pledge. It wasn’t about keeping the lights on in an otherwise empty building. It was about bringing Judaism into our lives and making it relevant to the things we care about.” Volunteer musicians, rabbinical students and one rabbi worked together to create and lead the service, which was also shared online with Occupy Philly, Boston and D.C. (Oakland did its own service spontaneously). Since then, Occupy Judaism has posted blogs on how to “occupy” (design events for) Shabbat, Rosh Hodesh and more. “That’s the ethic,” Sieradski notes. “We created something and shared it with others.” While some may view the DIY movement as threatening to mainstream Jewish institutions, sharing resources has benefited both. When
mothers to daughters and daughters-in-law. Each participant sews a cloth square with concrete symbols — candlesticks, Tree of Life, matzo, sukkah, mezuzah, challah, Magen David, huppah, hamsa — that personalize her Jewish values. During the Isha l’Isha, each woman speaks about the square she has crafted, which becomes a blessing for the bride-to-be. Later, the squares are sewn together into a challah cover that “embodies the communal spirit of the havurah,” says Lipsitz. “Isha l’Isha incorporates the whole idea of Jewish women being a strong community of support to one another. We are the greatgreat-granddaughters of Miriam and Sarah.” — R. Musleah
a member of the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly read on the Facebook page that Occupy Judaism needed mahzorim, softcover versions of the Kol Nidrei service from Lev Shalem, its new mahzor, were quickly on their way, says RA executive vice president Rabbi Julie Schonfeld. A PDF copy was available on the Facebook invitation for the New York City event. “Wherever people are engaged in Judaism and bringing their passion and questions and Jewish neshamah (soul) to it — that’s exciting and positive. We want to bring resources to it wherever that happens,” says Schonfeld, pointing out that a havurah or independent minyan would not have been able to produce a similar mahzor (it took 12 years for a panel of rabbis and scholars). “There’s always room for people to reinvent Judaism in our own time and place.” The most important thing, says Schonfeld, “is that people are building community and have a connection to the worldwide Jewish community. Building new communities and new expressions are part of the exercise of all times.” UpStart Bay Area, a San Franciscobased organization that cultivates and funds innovative ventures like Kevah and Wilderness Torah (“Start up your Jewish idea!”), also consults with existing organizations like the 115-year-old Hebrew Free Loan Society in strategic redesign. It connects a community of changemakers to ideas, resources and to each other. “We can leverage innovation, technology and creativity with the existing infrastructure to build a stronger community,” says Toby Rubin, UpStart’s CEO and founder. A Midwestern community, for instance, contacted UpStart to re-imagine its model in the face of a shrinking and aging Jewish population and synagogue membership. Rubin, 57, offers a reminder that DIY Judaism is not restricted to the younger generation. She had little Jewish knowledge herself — not even a bat mitzvah — until she made Jewish 8
friends and became involved in leadership at the JCC where her children attended preschool. She was later accepted into the Wexner Heritage Foundation program and veered away from her legal career to become a Jewish professional. “I was 42 before I knew what I didn’t know,” she says. The overwhelming majority of Jewish adults today don’t go beyond bar or bat mitzvah, and many don’t even have that base knowledge, she notes. “It’s scary to create a Shabbat experience if you don’t have the tools to even ask the questions.” The groups she funds, she says, help people find their way to connect to their Jewish identities and to Jewish wisdom. Rubin founded UpStart in 2006 to reflect the entrepreneurial spirit with which she wanted to energize the Jewish community. “I like leadership, and that’s where my creativity comes out. So I created an organization that is creating other organizations that are creating more meaningful Jewish experiences.
I’m working with game-changers. It’s not that young Jews don’t care. When it’s the right thing, they do.” Rubin does express some concerns. Jews in America are learning how to be “voluntary Jews,” she says. “There’s nothing other than maybe familial guilt requiring us to be Jewish. Every day that we do something Jewish it’s voluntary.” In addition, she says, in the context of American culture in which everything is tailored to individual needs, what will the impact be on Jewish peoplehood? On the value of being connected through ritual and practice? One of the benefits of DIY Judaism — that there’s no one way to be an authentic Jew — may also be its drawback: “There may be no common thread we can learn from.” The “consumerist” approach to Judaism also troubles Strassfeld. “The sense that we are obligated to do certain things has been lost. People want a solely personally fulfilling Judaism.” She expresses dismay that some Jewish parents don’t feel obligated to ensure that their children receive a basic Jewish education. “It’s harder to begin a journey as an adult when you have no background,” she says. DIY Judaism increases bifurcations between “boutique” and “mass market” Judaism, observes Michaelson. “The challenge is how to accommodate DIY folks who want a juicy, engaged experience as well as people who have other things in life and prefer to just come to shul for something familiar and lowimpact. The “new frontier,” he says, is the “full lifecycle phenomenon” — when DIYers age and have children, or their parents pass away, and they take on death and mourning rituals like chevra kadisha (burial preparation) and sh’mira (keeping watch over someone who just died). Rabbis will always have a place, he says, but he would love to see progressive American Judaism encourage participation as the norm, not the exception. continued on page 25
Mayim Bialik: It’s Important ’ mat to Support Naa Na’amat USA is honored that the well-known actress Mayim Bialik is the organization’s new spokesperson. She praises the organization’s work on her blog, which follows, and in a public service announcement (visit www.naamat.org). Known for her role in the popular TV show, “The Big Bang Theory,” as well as other television and movie appearances, the multitalented Bialik also holds a Ph.D. degree in neuroscience. And this mother of two sons just published an insightful book on parenting titled “Beyond the Sling.”
Denise Hernick Borchert
s a public Jewish person, I am asked to speak for a lot of Jewish causes. I feel truly blessed to be able to put the word out there about organizations that do so much to change the world. Even in my non-celebrity days, though, when I was “just” a graduate student who used to be TV’s “Blossom,” I was involved in a variety of charity organizations and believe strongly in advocating for young people to put their money (even if it’s only the money they would spend on one night out drinking) and their passion behind a cause. I even co-founded a young person’s branch of the Jewish Free Loan of Los Angeles to show young people that they, too, can be philanthropists by helping add money to the pot of interest-free loans given out to people of all faiths. Now that I am a mother, I feel even more strongly about organizations I am affiliated with, such as Na’amat USA. You might associate the organization with our grandmothers’ generation. It’s 86 years old (so we’re not entirely wrong in our association), and it started as the Working Women’s Council in Palestine. Golda Meir was a founding supporter, and Na’amat is the Hebrew acronym for “Movement of Working Women and Volunteers.” I just finished filming a public service announcement
for Na’amat and am happy to promote the great work they do along with its sister affiliate Na’amat Israel. As an organization they help Jewish women work around halachic obstacles regarding marriage, divorce and widowhood. They provide a 24-hour hotline for women experiencing domestic violence and provide women’s rights centers, free legal and health services, and do advocacy work to help end domestic violence. They provide affordable and safe child care to tens of thousands of children. And they give scholarships to women in need (180 were given out last year alone!) and stand by the principle that women deserve and merit equal opportunities to achieve and succeed free of discrimination in the educational and workplace arenas alike. For me, becoming a parent made me feel connected to other parents in a new and powerful way. The thought of not having money or health care or the right to not be discriminated against feels much more significant now that I am a parent, and to imagine that this goes on all over the world every day can be overwhelming. Giving voice to organizations like Na’amat helps contribute to making small changes for other parents and future generations. And they need our support. It’s that simple. Finally, as a person comfortably living in a wealthy country, I often marvel at how much we — I include myself in this -- take for granted. A bad year financially for many of us looks like luxury to millions of people all over the world. Budgeting for a new water filter in our kitchens (and de-chlorination filters for our bathtubs!) is profoundly disturbing when there are families with no clean water to give a sick child. We can give a little. We can give $5. We can also give $10. And we can give $1. The notion is that philanthropy is financial, yes, but it is also spiritual. It’s not about assuaging guilt; it’s a connection to others through time and space. “Kol Yisrael arevim zeh la-zeh” means that all Jews — and all people — are responsible for one another. No exceptions. No modifiers. Stand up for something with your money, be it a big or small donation. Because there is no measure for how great that contribution is: for your soul, for the recipient of what your donation leads to, and for the truly priceless gift of being a part of this great nation of Jews. Let us be a light among the nations any way we can. This article first appeared on Kveller, a Jewish parenting site, under the title “Mayim Bialik: Why It’s Important to Give.” To read more, visit www.kveller.com/mayim-bialik. SPRING 2012
Israel’s Battle Over Hadarat Nashim (Exclusion of Women)
Will a small minority of religious extremists be permitted to dictate their way of life to the majority of Israeli citizens? by JUDITH SUDILOVSKY
ne wintry Friday morning, as she prepared to go to the supermarket with her father, seven-year-old Emily BaltonLaor emerged from her bedroom wearing a blue long-sleeved blouse, a brown corduroy skirt past her knees and thick black knit tights. Surprised by her daughter’s attire, Karine Balton-Laor, 42, originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan, asked Emily why she had decided to wear the outfit, which seemed out of place in their secular Jerusalem home. “Emily said she wanted to be safe so that no ultra-Orthodox (known in Israel as haredim) men would bother her or say anything to her at the super-
Tempers run high in Beit Shemesh.
market,” recalled Balton-Laor. “She wanted to bring a kippa for her daddy to wear, too, just in case. I felt terrible that she was able to pick up [the tensions] from our society, that people are scared and it is scary for her.”
Members of her husband’s Mizrahi family are religiously observant, noted Balton-Laor, and she tries to explain to her daughter that it is just a small group of ultraOrthodox who are behaving in that extreme way, but the distinctions are lost on the little girl. Just a few weeks earlier, the story about another girl Emily’s age in the nearby town of Beit Shemesh had made the headlines and that remained fresh in Emily’s mind. Na’ama Margolese, whose parents are Modern Orthodox, was spat on, yelled at and verbally abused on her way to school by ultra-Orthodox men who deemed her long skirt and shirt not modest enough.
The fate of the State of Israel will ultimately depend on how this silent majority reacts to the growing religious extremism. Yoav Ari Dudkevitch/Stillsbank
“She learned at a very young age that there are some not very nice people out there. That is not something I had to deal with as a kid,” said Na’ama’s mother Hadassah, 31, who came to Israel from Chicago with her parents when she was a toddler. In Beit Shemesh, she observed, there have been ongoing tensions for some time between two sides: the Human rights activists protest the segregation of women and men on the streets in Mea Shearim. relatively new, more conservative ultra-Orthodox community and the veteran secular and more the stage in her stead (men and women liberal Modern Orthodox residents had to sit separately at the event); and In the preceding weeks, the is- the news about a medical conference on sue of gender discrimination against infertility that was not allowing women women in the public sphere had come to give presentations. These two events to the forefront of the national Israeli ignited a foray of indignation within the discourse, with the attack on Na’ama secular and more moderate religious setting off a series of large protests. segments of Israeli society. Gender segregation on buses, sideThe rifts continued. Protesters dewalks, health clinics and in other areas picted the Jerusalem police commander was discussed at length in the media. as Hitler on posters because he instructThen there was the news about a Minis- ed public bus lines with mixed-sex seattry of Health (haredi-controlled) award ing to drive through ultra-Orthodox ceremony where a prestigious female re- neighborhoods; vandals blacked out searcher had been asked to send a male women’s faces on Jerusalem billboards; representative to accept her award on when a female soldier refused to move
to the back of a Jerusalem bus, an ultra-Orthodox man accosted her while others screamed “prostitute” and “shiksa” (he was indicted for sexual harassment and unruly misconduct); the chief rabbi of the air force resigned his post because the army refused to excuse ultra-Orthodox soldiers from attending events where female singers perform. And despite a new ministerial directive presented to the Knesset instructing burial societies and municipal rabbis that they may not prevent women from giving eulogies at funerals, concerns remain that the directive will not be enforced. Though violence against women by the extreme ultra-Orthodox seemed for a moment to have decreased under the increased media scrutiny and cold rainy winter weather, Israelis were once again outraged when in late January a woman was viciously attacked by an ultra-Orthodox mob of men in Beit Shemesh as she put up posters for the national lottery. Such incidents leave Israelis like Balton-Laor and Margolese wonder-
This isn’t just a matter for women, this isn’t just a battle for women’s rights, but a battle between the rule of law and the radicalization being imposed on society.
ing what kind of an Israeli society their daughters will inherit. Anat Hoffman, executive director of the Israel Religious Action Center of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IRAC), who has been monitoring and battling the issue of gender segregation for over a decade, believes that almost 64 years after the founding of the State of Israel, the country is still in the throes of deciding which basic values it wants for the Jewish state and whether a small minority of extremists will be permitted to dictate its way of life to the majority of Israeli citizens. The fate of the State of Israel, she said, will ultimately depend on how this silent majority reacts to the growing extremism and whether it will remain apathetic and indifferent, viewing it only as a problem within the ultra-Orthodox community, or if they will rise to the occasion and view it as a struggle for the very national character of their country. Part of the struggle, noted Hoffman, is to convince the liberal silent majority to see this as their battle as well. “They think this is [the ultraOrthodox] way of life, and they don’t see that not all Orthodox are the same. Half of that population is women, and many don’t want [to be treated that way] but are scared to speak out,” she said. “Segregation is humiliation, degraJudith Sudilovsky
dation and illegal. They have to say, no, Israel is a democratic modern state.” In the recent generation, Hoffman continued, more young ultra-Orthodox women are the ones who are educated in a core curriculum, learning how to function in the modern world, since they are generally the ones who work to support their families while their husbands are immersed in Torah study. However, the male hierarchy fears a shift in the balance of authority when children see their mothers managing their daily lives, and so they feel the need to “put women in their place” through such types of segregation and demands on their “modesty.” To all intents and purposes, she added, that attitude does not seem too far removed from many of the conservative Muslim societies surrounding Israel. Though the divisions have been steadily increasing over the past decade, what finally forced the rest of Israeli society to take note, Hoffman says, is when the ultra-Orthodox dictates began to infiltrate into the Israeli Army, and rabbis decreed that it was permissible for religious soldiers to leave official Israel Defense Forces events where women soldiers were singing, which is prohibited according to their interpretation of halacha (traditional Jewish law).
ollowing several publicized cases of women actively refusing to be sent to the back of the bus, there were high-profile “freedom rider” campaigns with men and women riding on gendersegregated buses to break the segregation. However, IRAC has been quietly spearheading freedom rides with two or three women volunteers riding together on these buses with little fanfare since 2006, one bus route at a time, noted Hoffman, one overcast day as she took this female journalist on a freedom ride with her through the upper-scale Jerusalem ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo on a route that concludes in the downtown area. After a decade of being instituted, gender segregation on what is called menhadrin bus lines, which is “voluntary,” will not be so easily reversed, she noted. At the start of the line, both Hoffman and this journalist sat down separately at the front of the empty bus in a grouping where four seats face each other. Though several young ultraOrthodox women climbed aboard on the next few stops, they ignored the resoundingly empty seats in the front of the bus and proceeded automatically all the way to the back of the double bus. “Those are the women who are most likely to be targeted with severe verbal abuse: young, continued on page 26
Na’amat Israel Protests the Exclusion of Women! Letter to Na’amat Members Worldwide Dec. 29, 2011
Na’amat Central Committee Resolution
condemns the phenomenon known as the exclusion of women. Na’amat calls on the leaders of all religions to work together to wipe out the phenomenon of discrimination, humiliation and violence against women. Na’amat appeals to the inter-ministerial team headed by Minister Limor Livnat to work toward revising the legislation that will ensure the prevention of all instances of discrimination against women, and will strongly enforce this against anyone violating this law. Na’amat, as the largest women’s movement in Israel, firmly believes in full equality between the sexes, between all citizens of the State regardless of differences in religion, sex, race or nationality.
Just the Tip of the Iceberg
ehudit Zusmanovich, head of the Na’amat Women’s Rights Department, says that the discrimination in the ultra-Orthodox sphere — which is more eye-catching for the media because of its strikingly “humiliating, insulting and hurtful” character — is just a small example of the larger issue of discrimination against women in Israel. The larger issues of equality in the public sphere tend to get “swept under the rug.” “Women being forced to sit in the back of the bus is just the tip of the iceberg,” observes Zusmanovich. “It is just symbolic of the situation. If you want to talk about segregation of women you need to also mention the issue of the lack of women representatives on the (municipal) religious councils, which is where… all the (religious) decisions are made on family issues and religious law. These councils are usually in the hands of men.” In addition, she points out, there is a lack of female representation in public offices, with only three women mayors in the entire country,
Dear Haverot, As you probably know, one of the burning issues today in Israel is the fight against women’s exclusion from the public sphere. On Tuesday, approximately 10,000 people, religious and non-religious, gathered in Beit Shemesh for a demonstration protesting the growing demand by radical religious elements to exclude women from public life in Israel. The rally featured several female speakers who were victims of haredi violence, in addition to the opposition chairwoman Tzipi Livni, Labor chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich, and Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat. Na’amat women were among the protesters holding banners reading “Free Israel from religious coercion,” “Stop Israel from becoming Iran,” “Segregation is a red line,” and “No more discrimination against women!” Public outcry against the radical demand to exclude women from public events and for segregation between the sexes on buses, sidewalks and even in lines in the supermarket became especially strident over the weekend when a seven-year-old girl was spat on in a Beit Shemesh street by a haredi man who claimed she was not dressed modestly enough. More steps, planned together with other social organizations, are intended to fight this dangerous phenomena. Shirli Shavit, Director Na’amat International Department
and even then only in medium-sized cities. Out of 120 Knesset Members, only 23 are women, she adds, and sadly, this is the all-time high. “There has been an increase, but it is not enough,” she says, noting that of the 30 Cabinet ministers in the present government, less than a handful are women. “Women in Israel make up 51 percent of the population, but this pyramid is still not equal.” The major issue currently challenging Na’amat and other women’s groups is the exclusion of women in senior management positions in the public sector, the largest employer in Israel. Almost 68 percent of the public sector’s employees are women, she says, yet only 30 percent of senior management are women. Even in the Israeli Army, which is supposed to be the equal representative of all Israelis, Zusmanovich notes, it is only this year that for the first time since its founding a woman [Orna Barbivai] has been appointed to the rank of major general in the IDF. Still, she adds, there is hope and there is determination. But it is not just a struggle for women, she emphasizes. The issue of gender equality is also in the interest of men in “an
enlightened democratic society” so that talented women can also make their contribution for the advancement of the country. “We in Israel are different from the countries experiencing a fundamentalist phenomenon and who are pushing women to the back of society,” she says. “We have strong roots and a tradition of democracy, so the challenge for women and for Na’amat and women’s groups, in general, is to protect this tradition…that is the base on which this country was created.” Thanks to Na’amat and much of its advocacy, Israeli law regarding discrimination against women and equality for women is among one of the advanced in the world protecting women’s rights, Zusmanovich continues. “The problem lies with the gap between the implementation of the laws and their regulation.” “I believe that together with other women’s groups, Na’amat will eventually place Israel inside the laws that protect women,” she says. “There is no chance you will see us women covered up with a hijab and [netting] over our eyes. Israeli women in 2012 are strong, educated and equal.” — J. Sudilovsky
Taking on the Challenges of Multiculturalism and Coexistence Focusing on their common interests and professions, Na’amat Israel brings together women from all ethnic and religious backgrounds to foster understanding and respect. by JUDY TELMAN
Photos by Rivka Finder
t has always been a matter of pride for me, working with and for Na’amat for more than 55 years, that this women’s movement is open to all women living in Israel — Jews, Moslems, Christians, Druze, Circassians, Bedouins; women who live in cities, on kibbutzim, moshavim, development towns and villages; veterans and newcomers. Throughout the country, children, teenagers, adults and seniors take advantage of the organization’s social services, vocational training, early childhood education, alternative high schools, leadership training and legal aid bureaus. Qualified, caring staff members and volunteers are available and eager to lend a hand to those who turn to Na’amat for assistance. The programs that focus on coexistence — working toward improving understanding and mutual respect between the Jewish and Arab residents of Israel — stand out in my mind as one of the most important contributions to Israeli society. Na’amat learned long ago that if one wants to live in a democratic state — a state in which all citizens are recognized as individuals capable of contrib-
uting to the growth and development of that state and deserving of equal rights and opportunities — the tools and the venues have to exist to make it happen. Yehudit Zusmanovich, who heads the Na’amat Women’s Rights Department, deals with the everyday conflicts that threaten the status of women in the home, the community, the workplace, and most recently, in public streets, on buses, in stores and in the military. Her qualified team tackles many of the issues that challenge Israeli society today. This includes working to improve the relationships between the various populations that live in this country. The other
is finding the tools and creating the incentives to involve young women in Na’amat, to encourage them to play an active role in strengthening the movement so that its influence and contributions do not waver. These efforts are carried out under the leadership of Orly Bitty, who is deputy chairperson of Na’amat for the Young Generation and for Coexistence; coordinators Ruchama Goldschmit of the Coexistence Project and Nurit Hadjaj of the Young Na’amat (Successor Generation) Project. Their enthusiasm and expertise are no doubt the reason these projects move forward and succeed. This article will deal primarily with the programs that take on the challenges of multiculturalism and coexistence, which are initiated by Orly, Ruchama and Nurit in cooperation with regional chairpersons, workplaces, educational institutions and other agencies One thing these three dedicated women soon learned was that joint meetings between Jews and Arabs required planning and direction and could no longer be based on the “coexistence
of hummus.” The program has to have authenticity and a professional approach that clearly defines the parameters of living and breathing together in a multicultural, orderly society. Putting their heads together, and using past experience as a basis, they developed a professional program that encourages open dialogue meant to bring participants closer together. Targeting groups with common professions and interests, they reached out to nurses, midwives, teachers, kindergarten aides and women working in the public sector. It was decided that a model regional program had to be created. The different projects began with a series of meetings, lectures and seminars taking place in clubrooms located in Na’amat regional facilities. Two such clubrooms were opened — one in the Western Galilee and one in the Northern Shomron Triangle. These programs are still in the experimental stage. The plan is to reach out to cities and towns located in the Western, Central and Upper Galilee as well as to those in the Northern Triangle and the Southern Triangle — an effort requiring a great deal of determination on the part of the organizers and a great deal of cooperation on the part of Na’amat regional chairpersons and the various institutions to which Orly, Ruchama and Nurit reach out. There is no question that attitudes have changed over the years, and certainly in more recent times. It is more difficult today than it was, even five years ago, to bring Jewish and Arab women togeth-
er, giving them an opportunity to share common interests, concerns, hopes and dreams. The political situation, the security situation and the influence exerted by residents of local communities often make it more difficult for women to step outside the framework in which they live or work to explore other options. And each has to deal with her own prejudices and overcome her own fears. However, Na’amat continues to move ahead, organizing seminars for women who share a common profession, opening the doors to better communication and understanding. One seminar was held for nurses, Jews and Arabs working in Assaf Harofeh, Hadassah Jerusalem and the Nahariya hospital, together with participants from the Italian, French and English hospitals in Nazareth. Teachers, educational counselors and lawyers participated in another seminar, entitled “Women in Religion,” which took place at Na’amat headquarters in Tel Aviv. They heard lectures on women in the Koran, the Tanach and the New Testament. Special in-depth programs were also arranged for women in Abu Ghosh and Lod, in which three groups of Arab Christian women met to share ideas and experiences relating to achieving personal independence. One group of Arab and Jewish women met in the Taibe-Tira area to explore the subjects of self-reliance and domestic violence, while a second discussed personal histories. The latter group was asked
to go back to the days of the 1950s by interviewing their grandmothers and mothers about their food culture, asking what they ate, how they cooked, how they set the table. It was also arranged for a group to meet at the Bet Terezin (Theresienstadt Martyrs Remembrance Association) at Kibbutz Givat Haim for a seminar called “Memory, Forgetfulness, Causing Forgetfulness and Denial: A Bicultural Meeting.” The participants were retired teachers from the Hadera area, Kfar Arara and Baka el-Garbia. The second round of this seminar will include women artists who survived the Holocaust and relate their stories through art. Other seminars are being planned for Daliat el-Carmel, a Druze town, and for Peki’in and Carmiel. In December 2011, a two-day seminar was held at Bet Berl, an educational institution that offers a wide variety of academic disciplines and cooperative programs both for people living in Israel and those who come from abroad — some from third world countries — to learn about urban planning, agricultural development and other skills to improve their productivity and quality of life. Na’amat has held many programs at Bet Berl over the years, including those that help women convert their skills, such as cooking, baking, sewing or creating art, into income-earning projects. Many Arab and Jewish women have opened businesses as a result and have met together to share their experiences and their successes. The December program focused on women working in several hospitals in Israel as nurses or social workers. continued on page 25
Na’amat seminar brings together Jewish and Arab nurses to discuss workplace and women’s issues. Orly Bitty, deputy chairperson of Na’amat for the Young Generation and for Coexistence, is shown second from left.
Life in Israel The Teak Table
Sometimes a piece of furniture says “This is home.” by MICHELE CHABIN
efore my husband Sid and I got married many years ago, one of the household items I insisted on buying was a proper dining room table. I wanted something nice and strong. Something with presence. A table that said “this is a home” to all our visitors. I found the perfect handmade teak table in a boutique furniture store in Jerusalem, where we live, and quickly went home that evening to get Sid’s seal of approval. But by the time I got back to the store, the table had been sold. The owner noticed my distress, but he couldn’t understand that this was no mere shopper’s disappointment. A couple months earlier, on the eve of Shavuot, my Jerusalem rental apartment caught fire. Sid, my then fiancé, and I were at a friend’s house for dinner when the fire started and had no idea what was happening. We were heading out to a late-night lecture when we noticed four fire trucks rushing toward my neighborhood. We watched them race down the road and wondered who the poor people were whose apartment was on fire. It never occurred to us that it was my apartment. When we returned to my building at 1:30 a.m., the hall light was out. We started making our way up to the top floor in the dark when my dear friend and neighbor, Tehilla, opened the door. Her little girls clung to her side, despite the late hour. “There was a fire in your apartment and there’s nothing left,” Tehilla told me. “Come, sleep on my sofa and we’ll tackle things in the morning.” Sid headed upstairs to take a look at my apartment. The door was destroyed, and the place was filled with twisted metal and ash. The fire had clearly started in the living room, near the entrance (we later learned that faulty wiring was the cause), and snaked its way to the other rooms via illegally placed phone lines. Windows were blown out. The appliances were ruined and plastics melted. My clothes were history, and the computer in my bedroom looked like something out of a Dali nightmare. Three inches of ash covered the living room, courtesy of my extensive library. The sofa, the rugs I had just purchased in Turkey, and the wood dining table and chairs were carbonized. My jewelry, stored on the bamboo bookshelves in the living room, simply melted. I was homeless. Half-written articles stored in my 16
computer were never completed as I struggled with insurance companies and the landlord who was responsible for the wiring. I couldn’t stop imagining what would have happened had we been caught on the top floor with no way out. “Not being home saved your life,” the fire inspector told me. After staying with a friend, I found another apartment to rent. Sid and I married four months later. A new immigrant, he had few possessions to bring to our marriage. The insurance I had enabled me to buy the basics: clothes, including a pretty $75 off-the-rack dress from Italy that served as my wedding dress; some appliances; a bed, chairs and a table. That’s what losing this table meant to me. The owner of the furniture store kindly handed me the phone number of Yonatan, the man who made the table. That Friday, Sid and I drove to Tel Aviv and met Yonatan, who lovingly creates furniture from teak purchased in Indonesia. He was just completing a table that I knew was meant for me. Yonatan delivered the table just in time for us to host a huge Passover seder, which 14 dear friends attended. Our teak table accompanied us to the tiny but sweet apartment we purchased a year later. It got covered in mashed bananas after our twin boys were born in 2002, and it was the center of our lives for many years afterward. But as the boys grew, our living room/dining room seemed impossibly small, so we reluctantly put the table in storage. We’d intended to bring it with us when we bought a larger place. Unfortunately, even when we did find a larger place, the new apartment’s dining area was too small. Our table had to stay in storage a little longer. I dreamed of putting the table, still strong but a bit timeworn, into our new building’s open, shaded garden in the back, entertaining visions of dinner parties and holiday get-togethers. We finally set up the table on a Tuesday morning in April. At 4 p.m. that day, we checked on the table, just before taking the kids for a doctor’s appointment. When we returned at 7 p.m., it was gone. “Maybe some kids took it for firewood,” Sid said, half jokingly, noting that the holiday of Lag B’Omer was coming up in a few days. To celebrate the holiday, people light bonfires and tell stories.
“What kids would steal a gorgeous table that weighs almost 100 pounds?” I asked incredulously. The little old couple next door came out onto their porch. They nodded sadly and told us that many things from their fenced-in garden had been stolen over the years. “Arabs,” they said, shaking their head. “They come from East Jerusalem.” Sid and I teach our children to believe in the goodness of others, whether they’re Jewish or Arab. That someone would choose to steal the table hurt as much as the loss of the table itself. Did it really matter who stole the table? Not to me. The next afternoon, Sid, who was going through some boxes in the garden shed, shouted for me to come downstairs.
There was my teak table, scratched but still beautiful. “I saw some kids collecting firewood and I followed them,” Sid said with a grin, pointing to a neighboring garden. After giving the young thieves the scolding of their lives, we examined the damage. We could have had the table repaired but chose not to. Like deep smile lines, the scratches remind us that life is about living, not fretting. Our lives were spared on Shavuot, and that’s what we celebrate. Michele Chabin is a journalist living in Jerusalem. She covers the Middle East for The New York Jewish Week and other publications. She wrote “The Amazing American Jewish Story” in our winter 2011/12 issue. SPRING 2012
My Own Kaddish For her estranged father, she had to say the mourner’s prayer alone. by MARSHA ROSENZWEIG PINCUS Yit’gadal v’yitkadash sh’mei raba I have been barred from your funeral by your wife. B’al’ma div’ra khir’utei v’yamlich malchutei I received the news of your death yesterday from Janet. Arline told her to tell me that if I tried to show my face at Goldstein’s Funeral Home this Sunday, she would have Scott and his law enforcement friends physically block my entrance, and if I persisted, she’d have them throw me into oncoming traffic on Broad Street. I almost laughed when I heard this, picturing my little stepbrother, apparently all grown up and working for the FBI, wearing a brown G-Man suit, his blond hair cropped neatly around his square head, shoving a badge in my face and calling me Ma’am. “Sorry, Ma’am,” he would say, as though we had not 30 years ago lived in the same house, eaten our meals at the same table, and watched television together after doing our homework. “I cannot permit you to attend your father’s funeral. You must vacate the premises. Please don’t make a scene.” b’chayeikhon uv’yomeikhon uv’chayei d’khol beit Yis’ra’eil, ba’agala uviz’man kariv, So instead I have come here to the funeral parlor alone. v’im’ru: Amein. Y’hei sh’mei raba m’varakh l’alam ul’al’mei al’maya. I have made special arrangements with the funeral director after consulting with my rabbi who has given me a small mint-green pamphlet with prayers for mourners. It is he who called the funeral home to arrange for me to have a private viewing of you. There is something thrilling about planning this meeting, and as the rabbi speaks to me in soothing tones, I imagine Arline’s uncontrollable rage when she learns of what I have managed to do behind her back. Like an ex-wife, I wasn’t named in your obituary. Janet and I have submitted a correction to the Philadelphia Inquirer, and tomorrow I will be publicly restored to my rightful place in the Rosenzweig tribe. Yit’barakh v’yish’tabach, v’yit’pa’ar v’yit’roman v’yit’nasei, I wear dark glasses and a trench coat as if I am arriving for a tryst. “Come right this way,” a barrel-chested Carl Goldstein tells me, leading me toward a chapel door. The door knobs are brass Stars of David and very cold to the touch. “I had your father brought to this room and you can stay with him as long as you’d like.” He puts his beefy hand on my 18
shoulder and whispers conspiratorially: “Don’t worry. You’re not the only one this has happened to. Some families hate each other so much they have to have two separate funerals.” v’yit’hadar, v’yit’aleh, v’yit’halal sh’mei d’kud’sha, b’rikh hu He ushers me into a tiny chapel and closes the door behind me. “Just yell if you need me,” I hear him say on the other side. “You won’t wake the dead!” l’eila min kol bir’khata v’shirata And there you are. My daddy. toosh’b’chatah v’nechematah And despite how old and brittle you appear on that wooden gurney, covered in white gauze for your kosher burial, I feel the years melt away, and for a split second I see Bill Rosenzweig who was once so in love with Shirley Perlstein that he couldn’t wait to have a child that would embody that love. da’aameeran b’al’mah v’im’ru: Amein. When you left my mother, you left me, too, and severed me from dozens of people who look like me and share my name. And though I haven’t seen any of them in over 30 years, I constantly imagine them — their weddings, their bat mitzvahs and the birth of their children. They are the phantom limbs on my family tree. Y’hei sh’lama raba min sh’maya v’chayim I once slept with a philosophy major in college solely because when I told him my name was Marsha Rosenzweig, he asked me if I were related to Franz the theologian. It occurs to me now, over 20 years later, that maybe he slept with me because I said I was. Like everything else you have told me, I wonder if it is true. “Can’t you see the resemblance?” you said to me when I showed you my copy of The Star of Redemption and asked if we were related. “Look,” you said, touching the deep cleft in your chin then pointing to the face on the book jacket, “He has the Rosenzweig chin.” It is a stubborn chin and it looks nothing like mine, which is more pointed like the bottom half of a great big heart. aleinu v’al kol Yis’ra’eil, You had prostate cancer, I heard. The same cancer that killed your father. The same father whose funeral you did not attend because you landed in the hospital with a bleeding ulcer the day after his death, and your mother never forgave you for that like she never forgave you for running
off to California in 1946 when the family — all 12 of you — got evicted from your house on South 58th Street. The cancer started in your balls then spread throughout your body, and you died a slow painful death. v’im’ru: Amein. One time in her usual obliviousness, my mother gave me a box of letters that you had written to her. She thought she was giving me the love letters you bombarded her with after you disappeared to California. But she had handed me the later letters, the mean bullying ones that you wrote in your attempt to get her to sue you for divorce after the judge in the first divorce trial told you that you had no grounds for a divorce and ordered you to go home and work things out. Instead, you hired a bull dog of a lawyer whose dirty tactics landed our mother in jail and your children in perpetual therapy. Oseh shalom bim’romav You will be buried tomorrow next to your dead son, your Down’s Syndrome son who was born to replace your other children. The one born with your father’s red hair and the Rosenzweig chin, but with a hole in his heart and an extra chromosome in every single cell of every organ of his little body. “Jeffrey ain’t right,” is what you said to me after the new baby’s bris in 1969. “He’s a Mongoloid and he will never be right,” you continued. “And if you or your mother ever say that this serves me right, I will kill you both.” I didn’t go to his funeral when he died one and a half years later. hu ya’aseh shalom
I was only 11 when you left us. For months on end, I would dream of you and reach for you through the darkness, but you remained just outside my grasp. I made bargains with God. If I do the dishes every single night, if I am polite and kind to my mother, if I make the bed, if I sweep the floor, if I get all A’s, let Daddy come back to me. And when you didn’t, even after I had done all the things I had promised, I found a way to outsmart you and God. I could stave off the pain of losing you by becoming you — an incarnation of your anger, your intransigence, your denial and your self-loathing. aleinu v’al kol Yis’ra’eil, Tomorrow you will be mourned in public, and the children you acknowledged will take a seat on the first row next to your grieving widow. They will receive the mourners, deliver the eulogies and throw dirt on your casket. And they will recite the Kaddish, fulfilling their obligation as children of Israel. I, your eldest, your first born, will not be there. There is no minyan to sanction my prayer. This is between us. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. From generation to generation. I stand here, reciting this ancient prayer. Your daughter. v’im’ru: Amein. May you rest in peace. Marsha Rosenzweig Pincus is a writer and teacher living in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. Visit her blog, “Her Own Terms: A Post Mid-Life Woman Writing for Her Life,” at www.marshapincus.com. SPRING 2012
BOOK REVIEWS The Unmaking of Israel By Gershom Gorenberg New York: HarperCollins 325 pages, $25.99
s I write this review, events in Israel are becoming more and more intense, as are the tensions, not only between Israel and the Palestinians, but between Jew and Jew. In the past few weeks, the vicious activities of the “Price Tag,” a group of Jewish terrorists, have broadened out to strike Jews as well as Muslims. Among Jews, the discriminatory activity against women by the ultra-Orthodox in Jerusalem and the town of Beit Shemesh has reached such a level that it has warranted front-page articles in every Israeli newspaper and The New York Times. These events are only the most spectacular. Legislation passed by the Knesset — along with legislation pending — indicate a serious trend toward limiting civil liberties and the increase in the power of the right-wing Yisrael Beitenu Party and the ultra-Orthodox parties. Matters have gotten so bad that numbers of journalists and political commentators in Israel are warning that the country’s very democracy is eroding. Others have written about an impending civil war. Serious stuff. Interestingly, the vast majority of American Jews are ignorant of any of this. In fear of losing the support of the younger generation of Jews, the Jewish institutions have remained silent. Thank goodness for Gershom Gorenberg, whose recently published The Unmaking of Israel and an earlier book, The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements, document Israel’s shift toward extremism. The shift was gradual, according to Gorenberg, dating from the end of the Six-Day War and the beginnings of settlement in the occupied territories. The euphoria of such a decisive victory and the capture of the biblical 20
lands of Judea and Samaria, engendered messianic visions in the Orthodox sector of Israeli society, but, more critical, encouraged the latent nationalism of a long-entrenched secular right wing. Together, they lay the foundation for a settlement movement whose numbers would grow into the hundreds of thousands. Gorenberg is careful to point out that settlement was not begun by religious extremists nor by the secular right. Tragically, the settlers would be abetted by the liberal elite, people like Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Yigal Allon, Golda Meir, among others. And, tragically, so many leaders of Israel’s Labor Movement were seduced by the settlers who labeled themselves the true Zionists in their endeavor to “reclaim” Jewish lands. The occupation of the territories was supposed to be temporary. Outside of the unification and expansion of Jerusalem and the lands of the Golan Heights, which were annexed to Israel, Israel’s official borders remain pretty much the same as they were prior to the 1967 war. At the same time, however, since October of that year, the maps published by the Survey Department show Israel’s borders to include territories captured during the war. And there is more. The West Bank territories were renamed Judea and Samaria to reflect Israel’s biblical hegemony over the territories, and cities in the territories were given Hebrew names, many tracing their origin to the Bible. As strong as these actions were, they were only symbolic, notes Gorenberg. The creation of the settlements was not. With the complicity of the Mapai government, settlement began only a short time after the war. Using the cover of establishing a military base, families were moved into Kfar Etzion. Laws were amended to give settlers special rights. And, under the aegis of the
military, regulations were created to formalize the presence of the settlements. The most terrifying stories that Gorenberg tells are about the violence perpetrated by settlers, whose violent actions have been both justified and encouraged by ultra-Orthodox rabbis. Emboldened by the success of the settlers and the complicity of the secular government — as well, of course, of the “miracle” of capturing the holy sites — the rabbis issued tshuvot (responses) that rationalized violence against their Arab neighbors. But, not only against the Arabs — against the government of the Jewish state, too. As Gorenberg details the growth of religious extremism, he looks, too, at the growth of extremist attitudes in the secular community. Avigdor Lieberman and his Yisrael Beitenu Party exemplify this radical turn to the right. With Lieberman at its helm since its formation in 2006, the party has become the second most popular party in Israel; Lieberman, today, is the country’s foreign minister. With the more moderate faction of the Likud Party breaking away to form Kadimah, the majority coalition began an offensive against basic democratic principles. Reaction was not confined to the Knesset, however. The organization Im Tirtzu launched an offensive against domestic dissent in 2010, targeting human rights groups, particularly the New Israel Fund. This was followed by an aggressive recruitment program of Orthodox men into the national police force, men who would be assigned posts in areas within the Green Line — that is, within the pre-1967 borders where Arab citizens are concentrated. There have been protests against the legislative and extra-legislative measures. Yet, the situation remains volatile. In the end, Gorenberg notes that he writes “from an Israel with a divided soul. It is not only defined by its contradictions; it is at risk of being torn apart by them…. Its democratic ideals, much as they have helped shape its history, are on the verge of being remembered among the false political promises of
20th-century ideologies.” There are solutions to the dilemma, he writes. Israel must end the settlement enterprise; it must separate state from religion; and it must recognize that it is no longer an ethnic movement and take on the responsibilities of being a constructive, liberal, democratic state focusing on the rights and responsibilities of all its citizens. (The last point is exceptionally important. The concept is truly transformative.) Citing statistics that support a pluralistic Israel, Gorenberg believes that these solutions can be implemented if the will to do so is there. He asks that Diaspora Jewry help Israelis to recognize how critical it is to find their “voice” and to express their commitment to buttress democracy in the country by supporting organizations in Israel that advocate human rights and separation of religion and state. The greatest responsibility, though, falls on the Israelis, he writes, ending his narrative this way: “We can allow Israel to continue unmaking itself, or we can choose to remake it.” Without doubt, this is a powerful and important book, one that every Jew should read. It will not be easy. After digesting it, though, I can only hope that the readers will accept Gorenberg’s plea for assistance. — Gordon Silverman
The Little Bride
By Anna Solomon New York: Penguin Group 320 pages, $15 (paperback)
recent New Yorker feature story by Nick Paumgarten explores the pains and peculiarities of dating in the modern world — what with the Internet and speed dating and so many potential partners milling about. How is it possible, the article asks, to expect anyone to choose just one person in life?
“If your herd is larger, your top choice is likely to be better, in theory, anyway,” the writer tells us. [But] this can cause problems. When there is something better out there, you can’t help trying to find it. You fall prey to the tyranny of choice — the idea that people, when faced with too many options, find it harder to make a selection. If you are trying to choose a mate out of a herd of thousands, you may choose none of them. Or you date someone until someone better comes along — trading up. It can lead you to think that your opportunities are virtually infinite and, therefore, to question what you have. “For some, of course, there is no end game; Internet dating can be sport, an end in itself.” My oh my, what would my bubbe say about all this? What a difference 150 years can make. The young woman of Anna Solomon’s beautiful and haunting new novel, The Little Bride, is, from her perch in Odessa, poised at that point in life where everything is going to change. It’s around 1850, Minna is 16 years old, and she has already lived for five years as a servant in an older woman’s house. Minna’s mother had abandoned her after the death of a second child, a son; and when Minna’s father died in the collapse of a salt mine, Minna was sent adrift. Minna’s caretaker is a “finely bred Jewess” by the name of Galina Hurwitz. Finely bred, that is, before the pogroms. Galina has spent five years “saving” Minna from the suitors she herself would never marry — and from the Russians who ransacked her home so many times that not even a matching set of candlesticks remains. It is her idea that Minna sign up for the matchmaking service called Rosenfeld’s. “Being married,” Galina tells her, “is like you can breathe for the first time.” In a world of penniless, menless, family-less women like Minna
and Galina, this sentiment couldn’t be more true. Solomon did extensive research into the world of mail-order brides in preparation for her book. “The phrase ‘mail-order bride’ always conjured certain associations for me — desperate, uneducated, sexually submissive women, and the desperate, misogynistic men who order them — but ‘Jewish’ wasn’t one of them,” Solomon says, in an interview in the online Tablet magazine. But her perception began to change when she uncovered the stories of several mailorder Jewish brides, who had come West in the late 1800s. There was nothing easy about the lives of these women, but life for Jews in Eastern Europe was hardly a better alternative. The author says: “Escalating anti-Semitic violence and poverty drove hundreds of thousands of Jews to flee, most of them to the New World. Thousands of Jewish women were trafficked into prostitution in places like Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro and South Africa. Many were sold into virtual slavery without their knowledge or consent, and nearly all of them — even those who had worked as prostitutes in Europe — wound up entirely dependent on and in debt to their (also Jewish) pimps and madams.” By comparison, mail-order brides like Minna’s character, who weds a poor farmer in South Dakota, had at least some measure of freedom. They sometimes exchanged pictures with the man they would marry. They might be marrying someone who was at least a cousin or a distant cousin. A disproportionate number of Jewish mail-order brides journeyed West, given the abundance of single men who had settled there under the Homestead Act, a number with the Am Olam movement. Their efforts at agriculture were often subsidized by wealthier more established German Jews, who were trying to ease conditions in overcrowded tenements and give their Hebrew brethren better opportunities. Some estimate that 8,000 Jews settled in America’s heartland between 1880 to 1940. SPRING 2012
BOOK REVIEWS The character of Minna Losk voices perfectly the potpourri of hope, dread and utter desperation that would compel anyone to take such a life gamble. She travels across a continent, then an ocean, and then traverses a land she has never seen and where she doesn’t understand the language — all in the hope that she will find a reasonable kind man who will spare her a life of prostitution. In her pre-suffrage, pre-feminism, pre-equality world, that is her plain and simple choice. For the first half of the novel, where Minna is making this journey, she is plagued by the depth of what she doesn’t know. Will she be able to even stand this man? Will she cringe when he touches her, or will it just be something minor she has to endure? What will happen if she doesn’t produce children? What will she do if he is cruel? Of course the greatest challenges become the ones she never could have imagined. How will she cope with the desolation of life in a singleroom sod hut, with no neighbors and not even a tree as far as she can see? How will she deal with a very difficult man who is 40 years old? How will Minna manage her feelings for one of her husband’s sons who is also a teenager. How will Minna respond when she hears the true story of her husband’s failure — and humiliation in the community — which is what brought him to this isolated patch of Dakota to begin with? Keeping home has been the art and fate of women for thousands of years. In some times and places, it is a task adorned with fanciful window dressing. In others, it lies pale and naked, in all its brutal truth. As Minna is reminded of the new home she must keep: “The true economy of housekeeping is simply the art of gathering up all the fragments, so that nothing be lost.” How true that is. — Joysa Winter 22
Books for Cooks and Foodies
a broad array of dishes for all parts of the meal. I was particularly entranced by the innovative section on sushi/rollups, which includes such delicacies as Fried Cannelloni
Here’s our annual roundup,
Filled With Zucchini Cream; Chicken, Basil
reflecting the ongoing explosion of
and Cranberry Roll-Ups; and Pastrami Roll-
wonderful Jewish cookbooks.
Ups With Couscous Salad and Pepper Filling. The intoxicating aromas of onion pockets, chocolate babka loaves, Krakover
friend recently showed me a cookbook
twisted bagels and apple strudel seem
she had been using for a long time. The
to emanate from the pages of Inside the
1969 Treasured Jewish Recipes was written
Jewish Bakery: Recipes and Memoirs
by Shaner Greenwald (who was blind) and
from the Golden Age of Jewish Baking
illustrated with Mel Fowler’s woodcuts. I
(Camino Books). Authors Stanley Ginsberg
love the way her timeworn edition looks:
and Norman Berg, from Brooklyn and the
battered, food-stained, yellowed pages, with
Bronx respectively, wrote this book to
copious notes in the empty spaces attesting
“preserve and celebrate the tastes and
to her expert cooking skills and the warm
traditions of real Jewish baking and feelings
atmosphere of her home. She even makes
of community they evoked.” It is a gem.
p’tcha. (I might also add that she’s not
Ginsberg learned to cook and bake from
his grandmother; Berg went to school and
We’ve come a long way since Jewish
became a professional baker. Looking at the
recipe books of yesteryear. The tall stack
photo of the kornbroyt/corn rye, I’m sure it’s
leaning precariously on my floor is a
the authentic one I have been seeking since
wonderful collection of recent cookbooks
— many large-size, several quite pricey,
Kosher Revolution: New Techniques
boasting gorgeous photos — that will make
and Great Recipes for Unlimited Kosher
you hungry even if you just ate. They will
Cooking (Kyle Books) by Geila Hocherman,
also inspire you to cook.
a professional cook, and Arthur Boehm, a
The photos in Kosher Elegance: The
cookbook author and writer, offers something
Art of Cooking With Style by Efrat Libfroind
most kosher cookbooks don’t. As one of the
(Feldheim Publishers) are a knockout. The
authors (I assume it’s Hocherman) writes
book is worth it for these alone. A pastry
in the introduction: “Because I fell off the
chef by profession, the Israeli author covers
kosher wagon for a time I know what trafe
tastes like, and some of it is very, very good.
building flavor, which delves into marinades,
material about Persian Jewish culture. Her
So I can help you create the best, most
rubs, glazes and herbs.
Passover recipes include Persian Haroset,
diversely flavorful kosher cooking…. Once
June Hersh is also the author of the
Persian Mussaka, Veal Stew With Basil and
you see non-kosher recipes the way I do — as
touching Recipes Remembered: A Celebration
Parsley and Stuffed Artichoke Hearts. This
occasion for instant translation — you’ll be
of Survival (Ruder Finn Press in association
beautiful book is infused with Simnegar’s
able to cook kosher anything.” This is evident
with the Museum of Jewish Heritage),
warmth and enthusiasm.
in the recipes, for example, Duck Prosciutto,
in which she juxtaposes the stories of
Ceviche With Avocado and Tortilla Chips,
Holocaust survivors with their personal or
Seasoned Palate (Judaica Press) was created
Middle-Eastern Zucchini Cakes With Tahini
family recipes. Interviewing some 80 Jewish
by Rebecca Naumberg and Sori Klein for the
Sauce, and Pistachio-Crusted Tuna With
survivors, she spent “hundreds of hours
Torah Academy for Girls in Far Rockaway,
listening, learning, laughing and crying,”
New York. As the authors state, ”Food plays
Leah Schapira, co-founder of
Dash: Inspired Kosher Recipes for the
hearing “incredible stories of defiance,
a pivotal role in our lifestyle as Yidden.”
CookKosher.com, brings us Fresh and Easy
resolve, bravery and luck.” In some cases,
Mouth-watering photos accompany each
Kosher Cooking: Ordinary Ingredients,
she used professional chefs to help recreate
tantalizing recipe, such as Black and White
Extraordinary Meals (Artscroll/Shaar Press).
recipes that survivors could remember but
Chilean Sea Bass Balls With Pink Grapefruit
For those who don’t have a lot of time — or
not make because a “technique was watched
Salad, Smoked Rib Eye Calzones, Tilapia
energy — to cook (most of us?), Schapira
but not learned, because a flavor was lost but
Sliders With Mango Chutney, Carmelized
provides 170 uncomplicated recipes. She
not forgotten.” Originally from France, Arlette
Butternut Squash and Pear Soup, and Mexican
divides them into traditional categories such
Baker gives us her recipe for Turkey With
Chocolate Cupcakes With Cinnamon Coffee
as soups, dips and sauces, brunch and lunch,
Sauerkraut; born in Lithuania, Sara “Hannah”
Frosting. Not your grandmother’s Yidden!
and main dishes, and also provides other
Rigler presents Chocolate Thinsies. And from
helpful categories: appetizer ideas, Pesach
Celina Hecht, born in Warsaw, there is Fresh
Wife (Struik Lifestyle/Random House) by
menu, make-in take out, quick and easy, and
Yellow Pepper Soup.
Sharon Lurie is all about “celebrating!” The
freezes well. The Kosher Carnivore (St. Martin’s
In Persian Food for the Non-Persian
Celebrating With the Kosher Butcher’s
wife of a kosher butcher in South Africa,
Bride and Other Kosher Sephardic Recipes
she is a food consultant and writer with a
Press) by June Hersh is a title that might
You Will Love! (Feldheim), Reyna Simnegar
charming sense of humor. The book is handily
put off some, but she does talk about
(originally from Venezuela, she married a
divided into sections for Shabbat, Pesach,
“eco-kosher,” the technically humane (and
Persian Jew and later discovered her family
Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot, Hanukkah
expensive) approach to raising meat and
were Anusim, or Marranos) introduces each
and Purim. Bella’s Speedy Bean Soup was
poultry. It begins with a helpful primer on
recipe with delightful remarks. For instance,
discovered when the author culled her
kosher rules for the “new generation of
she begins the recipe for Herb Salad With
mother-in-law’s pasted-together recipe book.
mindful eaters and conscious cooks.” Other
Lime Dressing with: “My father-in-law
Lurie’s cousin Jeff’s kneidlach is the best,
useful sections address cooking methods
inspired this salad. He always comes up with
according to Jeff. The Pesach chutney was
(grilling, dry roasting, pan searing) and
great ideas of what to do with leftovers.”
invented by her daughter-in-law after picking
She also provides fascinating anecdotes and
fruit at her brother’s farm. Mexican Matzo
BOOK REVIEWS salad is a three-layered “sandwich” made
peasant food. Like Jewish culture in general,
It’s chock full of recipes, interesting stories
with guacamole sandwiched between three
Jewish food is being celebrated in Spain after
(“Thai Goes Kosher,” “Judaism and Food,”
layers of matzo strips.
centuries of silence and denial. The book is
“Keeping Kosher in Hawaii”) and interviews.
divided into sections on historical influences,
I particularly liked the section on sensational
(CreateSpace) is edited and translated by
regions and recipes (the largest category).
soups and salads in the fall issue.
Jerusalemite Bracha B.Weingrod, educator
Beautifully illustrated, this is a great book for
and lover of Yiddish and good traditional
both cooks and armchair chefs.
The Yiddish Family Cookbook
food. In translating from the 1914 Dos
“Are you hungry? Don’t you need a little
Two more books are worth mentioning, even though they are not cookbooks. One does include some recipes: From
Familien Kokh-Bookh by H. Braun, she
nosh? It doesn’t matter what you say — I
the Jewish Heartland: Two Centuries of
“purposely retained the Yiddish cadence and
won’t take ‘no’ for an answer. I’m a bubbe
Midwest Foodways (University of Illinois
simplicity” of Braun’s language. Ahead of her
(that’s Yiddish for grandmother) and feeding
Press). Ellen F. Steinberg and Jack H. Prost
time in many ways, but also a product of the
people is what I do best.” So begins Feed Me
explore the ways that recipes changed and
times, Braun (I’ll assume this is a woman)
Bubbe (Running Press), subtitled “Recipes
evolved in response to immigrants’ new
includes some good advice on nutrition, such
and Wisdom from America’s Favorite Online
surroundings and continue to do so. They
as, “Often a meal without greens does not
Grandmother.” Born in 1927, Bubbe started a
point out that although dishes “maintained
have much worth.” And she recommends
new career at 80 as a food writer and host of
their ‘Jewishness,’ they often developed a
olive oil as the best and cleanest fat. But I’ll
the online cooking show, “Feed Me Bubbe.”
distinctive Midwestern flavor.” (Gelfite fish
pass on her recipe for sandwiches of raw
She wrote this book with Avrom Honig,
is made from fresh Great Lakes whitefish.)
beef — good for many illnesses and not
creator of the program and her grandson.
Serious detective work unearthed women’s
bad for healthy persons, she says. I have to
From Mock Gefilte Fish (she uses chicken) to
handwritten recipe books, newspaper
laugh at some of her recipes, which were
Black Radish Salad and Easy Kreplach, you’ll
articles and journals and involved countless
aimed at East European Jewish women who
love her recipes and stories. She also gives
interviews, providing an absorbing culinary
were on their way to becoming Americans.
us a list of her favorite Yiddish songs, with
Braun recommends cooking Indian Trout in
the outdoors, “when the fire is almost out
The Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen
The Sacred Table: Creating a Jewish Food Ethic (CCAR Press), an anthology
but still glowing….” Oh, and watch out for
by Lévana Kirschenbaum with Lisa R.
edited by Mary L. Zamore, reflects the
the butcher, who will con you into taking the
Young (Skyhorse Publishing) begins with
widening interest in ethical eating. It
worst cuts if you’re not a meat maven. For
terrific nutritional/health/diet advice, which
addresses questions that many Jews are
Passover, try the Chremzlech (matzo meal
continues throughout the book. The emphasis
asking themselves, for instance: Can Jewish
pancakes), filled with various fillings —
is on eating whole foods, ingredients that are
tradition offer wisdom that is relevant to the
raisins, almonds, apples, along with sugar
unprocessed and unrefined and preferably
choices I make today? If I have the choice
and lemon peel.
local and organic. Helpful tips abound:
between meat that is kosher, but not local
about food processors, cooking with wine,
or grass-fed, or grass-fed but not kosher,
masterful The Food of Spain (HarperCollins).
trimming salmon sides. A pioneer of upscale
which should I choose and why? Published
The author has previously treated us to her
kosher cooking and former co-owner and
by the Reform movement, this is a thought-
recipes, travels and knowledge about the
chef of Manhattan’s Lévana restaurant,
provoking collection by a group comprised
Middle East, Italy and other places. Now
Kirschenbaum has decades of experience and
mostly of rabbis.
she takes us on a journey to Spain, where
imparts her knowledge in a simple, chatty
And to top off your delicious meals,
there has been a “gastronomic revolution”
manner. What an array of recipes! There’s
don’t forget the wine. Check out The Ultimate
over the last three decades, leading to the
Pad Thai, Oat Quinoa Chili, Mock Crab Salad,
Rogov’s Guide to Israeli Wines (Toby
“development of an exquisite and refined
Ratatouille Moroccan-Style, Berry Smoothies,
Press) by Daniel Rogov, who died this past
professional alta cocina (haute cuisine)…
Quick Halvah Bars, many variations of cholent
September. Sadly, this is the last annual
and to an updating of the traditional culinary
and some 350 other dishes.
edition of this renowned, comprehensive
There are 609 pages to Claudia Roden’s
know-how.” The section on Jewish legacies
You may also want to check out
provides insight into culinary history, as do
Bitayavon an attractive, lively bi-monthly
2,500 wines from more than 150 Israeli
other sections on the French influence; the
magazine (www.Bitayavon.com), published
aristocracy; monasteries and convents; and
in Brooklyn and launched in February 2011.
guidebook, which describes and ranks some
— Judith A. Sokoloff
continued from page 15 Twenty women participated, 10 Arabs and 10 Jews. They came from Poriya Hospital in Tiberias, Assaf Harofeh Medical Center near Lod, and Beilinson Hospital in Petach Tikvah. During the two-day seminar, they heard lectures by leading experts. Dr. Udi Natur dealt with the issue of “the fundamental changes in the welfare state.” Colette Avital, educational director at Bet Berl and former Member of Knesset, discussed the “international perception of the welfare state.” Orly Bitty spoke about the work of Na’amat and the Histadrut in the struggles related to employment and welfare. The women also took part in workshops on a variety of subjects related to their work and their status within their communities, addressing themes such as “How are the issues of justice and charity viewed both locally and nationally?” “What are the differences between one’s personal politics and worldwide politics that are disturbing?” Lively discussions took place in the workshops and general sessions with many exchanges of ideas and plans for future seminars. The participants were made aware that they had a place and a person to whom they could turn with questions and/or ideas — people like Na’amat leaders Rimona Levy, chairperson of Na’amat/Kinneret Region; Ayelet Mor, community coordinator/Kinneret Region; Aviras Bichania and Gilbar Roson from Taiba; Fatma Sarsur from Kfar Kassem, who is the coordinator of the Idud (Encouragement) project, which works to involve more women in Na’amat; and Tirtsa Lanir, who volunteers with the non-profit organization Another Way and meets with Arab and Jewish high school students. Perhaps the best way to illustrate how this program works is to quote excerpts from a letter written by Noha after participating in a program. “My name is Noha. I am 35 years old, married and the mother of two children. I am a graduate nurse at Assaf Harofeh, a group discussion leader on the subject of human sexuality, and a graduate of the Family Planning Association. “I am pleased to be part of this joint project sponsored by the hospital and
Na’amat that enables Arab Christian and Muslim women to meet together with Jewish women of different ethnic backgrounds, Sephardi and Ashkenazi. “This group of Arab women and Jewish women has been meeting once a week in four-hour sessions for eight weeks. These gatherings have whetted our appetites for future interesting meetings. Each of the participants brought with her the ‘baggage’ of her own experiences and the culture from which she came. It soon became clear that we as women, no matter from which background, or which culture, face the same hurdles and fight the same battles in the home, the workplace, the community and everywhere. “There is no doubt that this project has given us the tools to defend ourselves, to recognize our capabilities as women and introduce changes to advance and improve our status as women. “We hope that there will be more joint meetings sponsored by the hospital and Na’amat to bring women out of their ‘closed closet’ into a world that allows for development and recognition of the contribution that can be and is being made by women. “Thank you to the women who organized this program, Nurit Hadjaj and Orly Bitty. They knew how to enter into each of our worlds and to touch on the sensitive issues in order to increase our awareness, help us improve our selfimage and make us stronger than ever.” These programs generally have received positive feedback, and in many cases, the women working in the same institutions or agencies, and those living in adjacent communities, continue to get together long after the seminars end. However, there is still a huge way to go to bridge the gaps and to encourage all Israeli women to share in the venture. Let’s hope for the continued success in the effort to generate mutual understanding and respect, and to help these women lead the way to a better future for their families and their communities.
continued from page 8 “We’re living in an exciting time to be Jewish because of the flow of creativity. We don’t know the answers to what it means to be Jewish in the 21st century,” says Rubin. “We’re all artists and creators and we are looking forward to joining with leaders of existing organizations. There may be a lot of pain as we go through the process of change, but the faster we embrace the possibilities, the sooner we will be able to move forward.” Whether DIY Judaism is transformative only for the individuals who embrace it or also for the Jewish community as a whole, it represents “one more frequency in the spectrum of Jewish life,” says Sieradski. “It gives people who didn’t have a place before a home in the community.” Rahel Musleah is a New York-based writer, author, singer and educator who presents programs on the Jews of India and Iraq. She wrote “Mothers and Daughters Talk About Jewish Feminism” in our winter 2011/12 issue. Visit her Web site: www. raheljewishIndia.com.
continued from page 3
increase its defense budget, the likely result is the limiting and/or decrease of allocations for many social services. We look forward to celebrating Passover, which, in addition to its call for freedom and human rights, emphasizes the important roles women have played in our history as a Jewish people and reflects women’s central contributions to Judaism. As members of Na’amat USA and the Zionist Movement, we continue to work for social justice and equality through our active involvement in providing financial support for the projects and services of Na’amat Israel and for advocacy for women’s rights. We are truly “A Voice for Women Judy Telman, a freelance writer and transla- and Children — A Voice for Israel.” tor, moved to Israel from Chicago in 1984. Before she made aliyah, she was a national vice president of Na’amat USA. SPRING 2012
Exclusion of Women continued from page 12
single, Ashkenazi,” explained Hoffman. In a court case last year, led by IRAC’s legal staff, the Supreme Court said it would allow for a one-year trial period for “voluntary” segregation on buses where the back door through which women have been expected to enter the bus will be open. At the same time, all buses must prominently display a sticker that states that the bus is not segregated and women are free to sit wherever they like. With the decision’s one-year trial period having ended this past January, IRAC is planning to file another legal motion to challenge segregation in all its forms. As long as the back door remains open, noted IRAC attorney Ruth Carmi, there is no free choice for the women. On the bus, an older clean shaven Sephardic man, wearing a brown velvet kippa that marks him as a traditional Jew but not ultra-Orthodox, sat down next to the female journalist despite the many other empty seats in the bus. For a moment they looked at each other, and he smiled at her in solidarity. The bus filled up with ultra-Orthodox men, who remained standing despite the empty seats next to the women. A smile broke out on the face of a middleaged Orthodox Sephardic woman as she boarded the bus and saw two women sitting in the front. She bravely accepted Hoffman’s invitation to sit down next to her at the front of the bus. An older Ashkenazi woman was about to enter the bus from the back, but her eyes locked onto a female face in the front and she changed her direction in mid-step. But she was not brave enough to actually sit in front among all the men and walked to the back of the bus. Having outside women stand up against the increasing imposition of segregation on women from her community is the only weapon women like her have, admitted 27-year-old Bracha, who is a member of a well-regarded fourth-generation ultra-Orthodox family in Jerusalem. She asked that her real name not be used out of fear of repercussions from her community. Seeing people supporting the rights of the women in her community gives 26
the women strength and helps them feel that they are not so isolated, she said. “This should have been dealt with from the beginning, 10 years ago…things would have been different,” the attractive young mother says as she sips a coffee in a Jerusalem café. “We are afraid to sit up in front. I don’t have the courage to do that. They will start yelling at me, and if I answer back they can take my children out from the Talmud Torah school, I can lose my job, my husband can get fired. It’s not okay. We are afraid of what can happen here in a few years if this is not stopped. In the end they will tell us we have to stay in our homes and we can’t go out.” She recounted incidents in the past when she, friends and even her mother were yelled at and humiliated in a public bus by ultra-Orthodox men who forced them to go to the back of the bus despite the fact that there were no seats available. The media attention, she said, is helping significantly. “It is good that [the other women] are fighting the fight for us, because we can’t do it for ourselves,” she acknowledged. Religious neighborhoods such as Mea Shearim are not outside Israeli territorial jurisdiction, pointed out Laura Wharton, a member of the Jerusalem City Council from the Meretz Party, who participated in one of the freedom ride campaigns. “Whatever law is enforced in the rest of Israel must be enforced in those neighborhoods as well. People confuse the concept of multiculturalism. It means you can celebrate whatever holidays you want, the Ethiopian Sigd or the Moroccan Maimouna. It doesn’t mean you can invent your own laws,” said Wharton. Part of the tensions between some of the extreme ultra-Orthodox and mainstream Israeli society stems from the fact that certain anti-Zionist factions within the ultra-Orthodox community are “still in full battle mode” against Zionism, noted ultra-Orthodox author and columnist Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblum, who is originally from the United States. “For them, we are still back in the 1920s, battling over the holy character of Jerusalem,” Rosenblum said. “Their isolated character means they [feel the need] to fight against modernity and…influences of modernity.” But in a situation where their com-
munity is expanding exponentially, it is difficult to remain within the confines of their self-imposed ghettos, noted Bar Ilan University Professor Emeritus of Sociology Menachem Friedman, who has written extensively about the ultraOrthodox community. “Everything is connected,” he emphasized. “There is a lack of housing in the ultra-Orthodox sector. Jerusalem is full and they need to find new places.” These new enclaves must also meet the strict demands of their way of life, he added, and so, as has happened in Tzfat — which is now majority ultra-Orthodox and no longer has touristy restaurants or cafés — the influx of ultra-Orthodox into a neighborhood changes the character of the location where they have moved to. “This is very scary [for mainstream Israelis] and that is why there is an increase in tension with the ultra-Orthodox.” In terms of the role of women in the public sphere, their way of life — which the ultra-Orthodox maintain is out of respect for women — in fact ends up pushing women away from the public arena, he pointed out. “The ultra-Orthodox can’t live with us,” added Friedman, who is Modern Orthodox. “[Where they live] everyone has to follow their style of life.” It is just this scenario that is being played out in Beit Shemesh, noted Rabbi Dov Lipman, an ultra-Orthodox rabbi originally from Silver Spring, Maryland, who lives in the city and heads the English Speakers Division of Am Shalem, the new more moderate ultra-Orthodox political movement chaired by Knesset Member Rabbi Haim Amsalem. Indeed, observed Rabbi Lipman, much of the growing tensions in Beit Shemesh are an outgrowth over disputes over property, with the ultraOrthodox eyeing the modern-Orthodox girls’ school building where much of the confrontation has taken place. “Why weren’t people discussing this ten years ago? The ultra-Orthodox community has become more extreme and they are trying to assert their control,” said Rabbi Lipman, noting the pivotal role ultra-Orthodox political parties have played in the building of political coalitions in the Israeli government, giving them disproportional control in many spheres of public life. In addition, noted Bar Ilan’s Fried-
man, in the wake of the Holocaust, many of these surviving communities were seen to be the fragile protectors of Jewish religious heritage, and so the formula was established, in Israel, of supporting scholars financially from the outside — much from the Israeli government but also from Jewish sources abroad. The result of such support, Friedman believes, is that the ultraOrthodox communities, though still among the poorest in Israel, are receiving unprecedented financial support, which perpetuates the growth and expansion of the population. “If the [Israeli] government does not stop their support, in the long run the consequences will not be good,” he said. “How can you see Israeli society in 50 years with such a fertility rate?” Nevertheless, after the recent disturbances, “more moderate” ultra-Orthodox “are slowly coming out,” said Lipman. Though as an American he is sometimes looked at as “you American,” he was very uplifted when he and other ultra-Orthodox members of the community sat down together with secular and Modern Orthodox residents in order to present a united front against the extremism. “There is no question that in America the ultra-Orthodox community is very different” than the one here. “We went to college,” he noted, meaning that they have been more exposed to the outside world and so are more open and moderate, “but it is important to say to the Israeli [ultra-Orthodox] that the change has to come from them,” said Rabbi Lipman. Likewise, on a note of hopefulness, said Carmi, IRAC’s 2012 report on gender segregation reflects some optimism, showing an increased awareness about the issue among the general Israeli public — something that was not seen in the past. This awakening seems to be due largely to the attempts at segregation within that sacred of all secular institutions, the Israeli Defense Forces, she said. More important, she said, voices such as those of Rabbanit Adina Bar Shalom, the daughter of Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, were heard criticizing the exclusion of women from the public domain in the ultra-Orthodox sector, which Bar Shalom said “violates Torah.” Indeed, she told a group of
active position within
women at a November economic conference that halacha treats women with “the outmost respect.” At the same conference, opposition leader Tzipi Livni also spoke out against increasing extremism saying: “This isn’t just a matter for women, this isn’t a battle for women’s rights, but a battle between the rule of law and the radicalization being imposed on society. This is a battle for values people are trying to replace with extreme rabbis’ rulings. What we are seeing here is a collision putting the entire society in danger.” Whereas in the past in Jerusalem it was taken for granted that events for the ultra-Orthodox must be segregated, this year IRAC, through dialogue with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, was successful in rebutting that assumption, noted Carmi. The February inauguration of Beit Hillel, a national group of Modern Orthodox rabbinic and Torah leaders — that includes women in its leadership as equals — also could indicate a more
more moderate religious community Still, Carmi said, she hopes the awareness of the issue of women in the public sphere does not go “under the radar” after media attention turns to the latest hot topic as is wont to do in Israel. “Protests are getting bigger [but] we have to be careful not to turn this into hatred of the ultra-Orthodox as a group; they are not a monolithic group,” warned Carmi. “We are also against [attempts] to segregate secular cities. It is no different than saying you can’t divide the public sphere. Our goal is to create…an equal, respectful and democratic state. I think we are headed in that direction. I have to believe that. I am an optimist and I want to believe things are going toward a better direction.” Judith Sudilovsky is a journalist living in Jerusalem. In our summer 2011 issue, she wrote about Ethiopian Israeli performing artists in “Making Their Mark in the Arts.” SPRING 2012
AROUND THE COUNTRY
π Betty Trangle of the Rivka club (Cleveland Council) shows the members of the Kadima club how to prepare a scrumptious kosher Moroccan dinner.
π More than 125 members and guests attended the Palm Beach Council annual gala scholarship luncheon. Guest speaker and Kadima club president Barbara Grau spoke on “FDR and the Jews.” Lou Villanno presented music from the 1940s to the 1970s. From left: Jacquey Oster, national board; Marjorie Moidel, Southeast Area coordinator; Barbara Grau; Estelle Crozier; Rhoda Birnbaum, Palm Beach Council president; Raena Zucker, national board; and Leatrice Kolodney, chair of the day.
π Mazal tov to Pauline Vallon on her 105th birthday! Members of the Esther Goldsmith club (Toms River, N.J.), friends and family celebrated this wonderful occasion. A longtime, devoted Na’amat USA life member, she also has worked tirelessly for the Deborah Hospital, donated an ambulance to American Friends of Red Magen David and given her time to local charities. From left: Pauline Vallon; granddaughter Heidi Vallon; great-grandson Julian; Debbie Troy Stewart, Eastern Area coordinator and club president.
π In memory of Ann Dante, her family and friends, both in Israel and the United States, raised funds for much needed playground equipment for the Na’amat multipurpose day care center in the Kiryat Sprinzak neighborhood of Haifa. Dante was a dedicated member of Na’amat USA. Shown in the new playground: Dante’s family and friends and Na’amat officials.
Long Island/Queens Council ® held their annual holiday giftwrapping fund-raiser at a Long Island mall. It was a great success. From left: Lydia Gladstone, Adrienne Friedman, Carol Brown and Jan Fein.
√ The Southeast Area’s leadership seminar, held in Deerfield Beach, Florida, was outstanding, according to the 28 participants, who were inspired and motivated by the presentations and workshops. Area coordinator Marjorie Moidel reports: “Ivy [Liebross] was a wonderful leader and organizer. She had all the participants enthusiastically involved continually. Both seasoned and fairly new members came home with a wealth of new information and insights.” From left: facilitators Rita Sherman, Barbara Grau and national leadership chair Ivy Liebross.
π A festive mid-winter snowbird reunion, held in Boca Raton, Florida, was chaired by Isabel and Bernard Resnick (shown in photo). Eliezer Rivlin, spokesperson for Israel Consulate to Florida and Puerto Rico, presented his keen insights into Israel’s political situation.
π Cleveland Council held an Oneg Shabbat featuring guest speaker Sunny M. Simon, the District 11 Councilor of Cuyahoga County. She spoke about the responsibilities and the need for communities to work together to save money and not duplicate services. From left: Florence Dobrin, Program/Education vice president Gloria Ulmer and Simon. Kol ha’kavod to three devoted members of the Golda Meir club ® (Palm Springs, California): Adrianne Mamett, president pro tem; past president Goldie Krechman, Adrianne’s aunt, who recently celebrated her 99th birthday; and Fay Chaikin, 88 years old, a past president of the club who now lives in Tucson, Arizona.
Welcome to the New Life Members of NA’AMAT USA EASTERN AREA Mor Abramovitz Charlottesville, Va. Carol Adler Manchester, N.J. Mindy Arce Brentwood, N.Y. Felicia Diamond Fried Brooklyn, N.Y. Kay Gwen Syracuse, N.Y. Lisa Reznik Montclair, N.J. Suzanne Samelson New York, N.Y. Betty Tepper Baltimore, Md. SOUTHEAST AREA Ziva Dabach Sunny Isles, Fla. Phyllis Gallant Boynton Beach, Fla. Lana Helfner Boynton Beach, Fla. MIDWEST AREA Sofia Dziadek Skokie, Ill. Liesel Jankelowitz Northbrook, Ill. Marlene Jeral Chicago, Ill. Linda Kupfer Deerfield, Ill. Judy Lemberger Lincolnwood, Ill. Marsha Miller Skokie, Ill.
Robyn Lee Rabin Northbrook, Ill. Basia Retsky Highland Park, Ill. Ellen Samson Indian Creek, Ill. Judy Siegel Lincolnshire, Ill. WESTERN AREA Shirley Benjamin Seal Beach, Calif. Joyce Edelson Northridge, Calif. Zoe Harris San Francisco, Calif. Rita Keller Seal Beach, Calif. Jolie Krechman Portland, Ore. Mary Lamy Seal Beach, Calif. June Loewy Seal Beach, Calif. Caitlin Sislin Oakland, Calif. Galit Levy Slater Seal Beach, Calif. Barbara Ungar Thousand Oaks, Calif. Sylvia Weinberg Los Angeles, Calif. FRIEND Peter Seiden Lakewood, N.J.
Circle of Hope Donors 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 Bess Benson Betty & Robert Forchheimer Foundation Aurelia Goldberg Dorothy Margolis Others Meyer Kolodner Melanie Schreiber Trust
“Shana Tova” With Na’amat USA New Year Cards Its not too early to order our lovely, made-in-Israel New Year cards for 5773.
The inside message reads: May the year bring you the blessing of health, happiness and prosperity in a world of peace. Please place your order through your council office. Non-council clubs may order through tribute card chairwomen or presidents. Order now, before our limited quantity runs out.
NA’AMAT USA would love to be in touch with you! Go to www.naamat.org/email and sign up to receive special newsletters and the latest information via e-mail or send your e-mail address to firstname.lastname@example.org. Na’amat USA values your privacy. Your e-mail address will never be sold or provided to an outside party.
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Take Action! Battling Domestic Violence by MARCIA J. WEISS
USA is committed to the right of women to be free from domestic abuse. The U.S. Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) defines domestic violence as a “pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner.” The definition adds that domestic violence “can happen to anyone regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender” and can take many forms, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional, economic, and psychological abuse. The underlying motivation is control of the victim through domination, humiliation, intimidation, threats and blame. Physical abuse includes slapping, hitting, choking, beating, punching and other actions that result in physical injury to the victim. Causing a victim to suffer physical harm or pain though deprivation of medical care, forcing the victim to engage in drugs or alcohol use against his/her will, or causing physical pain to children or pets to inflict psychological harm to the victim are also examples of physical abuse. Sexual abuse includes acts of force, aggression or threats to coerce the victim to engage in unwanted sexual activity against his/her will, including sexual activity with a spouse or intimate partner.
Spousal rape (also called marital rape) is illegal in all 50 states and Canada. Emotional abuse (also called psychological or mental abuse) can include humiliating the victim publicly or privately, embarrassing the victim, deliberate degradation of the victim, isolating the victim from friends or family, constant attempts to diminish the victim’s self-esteem, criticism and name-calling, often resulting in depression and increased risk of suicide, eating disorders, and drug and alcohol abuse. Verbal abuse includes threats with possible profanity, namecalling, ridicule, disrespect, criticism and attempts to humiliate or manipulate through rage. Economic abuse results from one spouse controlling and denying access to the other’s assets, thereby necessitating the victim-spouse to be financially dependent on the abusing spouse. There is concrete evidence acknowledging that a child who is exposed to witnessing domestic abuse in childhood will experience trauma and emotional and behavioral symptoms. Often victims of domestic abuse require medical attention due to conditions such as bruises, broken bones, head injuries and lacerations and internal bleeding. Because many are still living with the perpetrator, however, they are reluctant to seek medical care. If they do seek medical attention, they deny that their
Na’amat Israel: Empowering Abused Women
is at the forefront of efforts to empower battered Israeli women so they can build healthy, abuse-free lives for themselves and their children. Statistics show that there are more than 200,000 battered women in Israel and a half-million children exposed to domestic violence in a one-year period. Na’amat’s Glickman Center, established in 1993, serves as a unique model: Under one roof, there is a secure shelter for battered women as well as a counseling and treatment center for battered women, violent men and children exposed to violence. The center, which serves about 1,000 women a year, aids people from all over Israel and functions as an emergency haven for residents of Tel Aviv/Jaffa. The shelter houses about 30 women and their children at one time. Residents include Jews and Arabs, secular and observant individuals, longtime residents and new immigrants. The center also works to prevent domestic violence through the
injuries are the result of physical abuse; rather, they say that they fell down a flight of stairs or had another mishap. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, one in four women in the United States has been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner, and nearly one in five has been raped in a lifetime. More than 1 million women are raped in a year. In 1994, a landmark piece of legislation was passed: The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). It sought to improve criminal justice and community-based responses to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking in the United States. The passage of VAWA and its reauthorization in 2000 and 2005 has changed the landscape for victims who once suffered in silence. Victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking have been able to access services, and a new generation of families and justice system professionals has come to understand that these forms of violence are crimes that our society will not tolerate. Take action! The needs of victims of violence, sexual assault, stalking and date violence must be protected. Our national government must continue to be responsive to them. On February 2, 2012, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the reauthorization of VAWA. The next step for this bill will be to move forward into a full Senate vote and then on to the House of Representatives. Urge your senators to co-sponsor the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011. The Act, S. 1925, introduced by Senators
Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) would authorize extending the current Violence Against Women Act for another five years to ensure that abuse victims receive legal services and affordable housing; bring together law enforcement officials, the legal system, and religious and health care representatives; and enhance responsiveness to victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse. Two other important pieces of legislation concerning domestic violence also need support. In October 2011, Representative Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) reintroduced the Domestic Violence Leave Act (H.R. 3151), legislation that would enable workers recovering from domestic abuse, sexual assault or stalking to leave their place of employment during work hours to seek medical attention, legal assistance, therapy or counseling, and to care for a family member — spouse, parent, child or adult child — who is a victim of abuse. The Act ensures that abuse victims have adequate time to recover from their injuries, both physical and emotional, without forfeiting their job or income. The bill is presently in committee. The text of this bill has been incorporated into the Balancing Act of 2011 (H.R. 2346) introduced in June 2011. The Healthy Families Act (H.R. 1876, S. 984), introduced in the House and Senate in May 2011, would require employers to provide paid sick leave as well as paid leave for domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault victims. Marcia J. Weiss, J.D., is the Na’amat USA National Advocacy Chair. Last issue she addressed sexual harassment in the workplace.
educational system, in the community and in the army. Na’amat volunteers accompany women to the police station when they file complaints and later connect them to the Glickman Center for therapy. The volunteers work with the men to get them into anger management treatment. Glickman Center staff members include social workers, psychologists, criminologists and lawyers. Among the services Na’amat provides are a hotline for emergencies, individual and group counseling, and legal advice. A group of volunteers works side by side with the staff. The center helps the parties reach conciliation agreements if both the husband and wife attend therapeutic counseling sessions. It also helps prepare divorce agreements, which clearly define arrangements for child custody and the division of assets. The goal of the center is for the residents to re-enter the mainstream as independent individuals. By providing treatment for both victims and perpetrators, Na’amat works to break the cycle of violence for women and their families.
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: www.naamat.org
Photos by Judith A. Sokoloff
TECHNOLOGICal high schools, two