Below is the link to a podcast of my talk "Rabbis who abuse" from the 2015 Limmud UK Conference http://limmud.org/publications/podcasts/limmud-conference-2015/rabbis-who-abuse/ Listen Download the podcast. You may need to right-click and choose "Save as..." Event: Limmud Conference 2015 Speaker: Elana Sztokman Description An exploration of the seeming explosion in the number of rabbis caught out as sexual abusers. Why does this happen, why is it happening now, and what does it mean for the rest of us? Tracks Jewish Peoplehood, Social issues and Community
Cross-posted from The Forward Sisterhood. Last Thursday, at a meeting of parents of Kids4Peace, I had a remarkable experience that both shocked me and inspired me. It’s unique Jewish-Muslim-Christian camp for residents of Jerusalem and its environs, in which my daughter participated last summer. Over the last year, the children have met regularly and their parents have met simultaneously in adjoining rooms. It has been an eye-opening experience, a powerful reminder of the importance of getting to know people around you — especially people who are different from you. This sounds like such a simple concept. But it is a remarkable fact of life in Israel that Arab and Jews who are sharing the same air and the same space and the same hot, daily grind, whose lives are so intricately bound up on one another, for the most part barely speak to each other. One of the most precious aspects about the Kids4Peace parent meetings is the discovery that, as parents, we are all pretty much the same. We all try to get our kids off the computer, we all try to get them to clean up their rooms, we all live for school plays, academic presentations, sports games, and we all really just want a nice life for ourselves. Still, Thursday night, October 22, was a little different. This was the first time we were meeting in a context of violent tension. Many people at the meeting said that they don’t remember a time when Jerusalem was this edgy: when life had completely come to a halt as everyone seemed to be staying home. People are so anxious right now that Kids4Peace held a phone meeting for parents a few days earlier, under the assumption that most would not want to come in person. Significantly, Thursday’s group proved them wrong and, despite the surrounding events, some 60-70 parents turned up, from all sectors of society. As people began sharing feelings and experiences, one Arab woman described a scene that really shook me. She had been looking after her elderly father in the hospital for the past few weeks, which gave her a ringside view of the comings and goings in the hospital around terror attacks. One day, when a female soldier had been stabbed and badly injured, the hospital staff made visitors make room for them to wheel the victim through the corridors. As she stood with her 8-year-old son she had a jarring conversation with him. He assumed, she told us, that the victim was an Arab woman. The mother said, “No, she’s Jewish” “I don’t understand,” the child replied. “Why would a Jew stab another Jew?” “No, no,” she gently explained. “The attacker wasn’t Jewish. He was an Arab.” The boy could not comprehend this. His mother recounted that in his mind, the only violence that exists is Jews hurting Arabs. This is all he knows, and it’s all he has seen. He had no idea that the violence goes the other way, too. When he realized...
The new FB group I started in March called " I'm fed up with the way women are treated in Orthodoxy ", also called "A home for Orthodox feminist and friends", has quickly taken off, with over 750 members and a constant buzz of activity. Yesterday's hot topic, for example, was a discussion of the Ryan Gosling pic you see here, a critucal satire of women in Parnership Minyan, part of the " frum Ryan Gosling " Tumblr. (The pic was created by Danya Lagos who joined the heated debate on the FB page!). The group has women and men of all ages from around the world, and not just Orthodox Jews either. Interestingly, there have been several posts from people who began with, "I'm not Orthodox so I'm not sure if I'm in the right group...." but all members have been welcome to share their stories, experiences and insights. The group is intended to be a place where people can safely express their own feelings and perspectives on women in Judaism. This has clearly met an important need given the rapid growth of the group. We had an intense debate last week about the title of the group, with some people saying that "I'm fed up" is too "angry", and that the group risks being just a kvetch-fest. The debate also included the question whether to make the group open or closed, since an open group risks becoming fodder for attack ("unsafe"), while a closed group has that risk of becoming an echo chamber. After lots of weighing in, we decided to keep the name because we really do need a place where we know it's okay to be angry or frustrated without being immediately told that we have to be perky, and to keep it open so that whoever needs to find us will. At the same time, we created a way to post anonymously as "plonit almonit" for particularly delicate postings. And we wrote very clear guidelines for discourse to ensure that nobody feels attacked or shamed or unwelcomed. That is a very challenging task on FB, since we all know how quickly passions can rise and tempers can flame. But it's really, really important to maintain this group as a safe-space for sharing. And by the way, the group is not "just for kvetching", although I don't want to minimize the value of sharing. There is a lot of support, empathizing, and analysis as well. Another interesting discussion currently going on is about "Why I'm still Orthodox". Jacqueline Nicholls , Leah Sarna and I all recently wrote blogs on this subject (unbeknowst to one another!), and so it seems to me like this is something that the people of the group grapple with as well. The group can help people figure out how to answer that question for themselves. The group is partially inspired by the success of the Hebrew group, "Ani feministit datiya..."("I"m a religious feminist and I also have no sense of humor), which has...
Chava is about to transform her life -- but she needs your help! Chava is a 39-year-old single mother of four who has been dealt some very difficult blows in life and has managed to overcome. Well, almost. She's been on an inspiring journey of finding inner strength and empowerment, but still faces a major financial hurdle. We can help her, with your support. Together we can raise $10,000 and enable Chava achieve the freedom, dignity, and independence that she needs and deserves. - See more at: http://www.rootfunding.com/campaign/help-chava#sthash.TTwEIjxv.uDPDj5GT.dpuf As of today, February 9, 2014, we have raised over $900 of our goal! Chava is about to transform her life -- but she needs your help! Chava is a 39-year-old single mother of four who has been dealt some very difficult blows in life and has managed to overcome. Well, almost. She's been on an inspiring journey of finding inner strength and empowerment, but still faces a major financial hurdle. We can help her, with your support. Together we can raise $10,000 and enable Chava achieve the freedom, dignity, and independence that she needs and d eserves. - See more at: http://www.rootfunding.com/campaign/help-chava#sthash.TTwEIjxv.uDPDj5GT.dpuf Chava is about to transform her life -- but she needs your help! Chava is a 39-year-old single mother of four who has been dealt some very difficult blows in life and has managed to overcome. Well, almost. She's been on an inspiring journey of finding inner strength and empowerment, but still faces a major financial hurdle. We can help her, with your support. Together we can raise $10,000 and enable Chava achieve the freedom, dignity, and independence that she needs and d eserves. - See more at: http://www.rootfunding.com/campaign/help-chava#sthash.TTwEIjxv.uDPDj5GT.dpuf
wikimedia commons Eli Yishai It never ceases to amaze me how some so-called leaders will use women’s issues to advance their own agendas that have nothing to do with women. The overtly racist statements coming from the Shas government minister Eli Yishai last week in light of a Tel Aviv rape case were particularly troubling. When the police arrested four Sudanese and Eritrean men last week on suspicion of raping a woman in Tel Aviv, some Israelis took this as an opportunity to indict the entire community of refugees that is concentrated in South Tel Aviv. I listened in horror to radio interviews with Tel Aviv residents talking about “those people” who have “taken over” the otherwise “normal” Tel Aviv — using language that is painfully reminiscent of my Orthodox Brooklyn upbringing, when we were expressly taught to cross to the other side of the street if we saw black men walking in our direction. For these sentiments to be reinforced in the year 2012 by a government official is particularly troubling. Yishai said , in response to the rape, “Most African migrants in Israel are involved in criminal activity and should be imprisoned and deported.” As if to say, all the black folks in Tel Aviv are really just rapists, thieves, murderers, whatever. These statements give legitimacy to racism and may lead to criminal acts, like those that took place recently against asylum seekers,” said Michal Pinchuk , director of the Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Israel (ASSAF). Indeed. Read more: http://blogs.forward.com/sisterhood-blog/156640/tel-aviv-rape-blanket-indictment/#ixzz1yzk0Byt7
When the announcement was made that the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize would be given to three women, including Leymah Gbowee (pronounced LAY-muh BO-wee), some Jews were particularly proud.
Gbowee, an extraordinary Liberian activist and founder of Women Peace and Security Network-Africa (WIPSEN), who has been influential in mobilizing women for peace and bringing democracy to Liberia, has credited the American Jewish World Service (AJWS) with being one of the first organizations to believe in and to provide financial support for her work.
“AJWS is a name I will remember”, she said recently at an AJWS event. “It is an organization with a heart and a soul. I mean it – and I don’t take my words lightly.”
I had a conversation with my father over breakfast this morning about fundraising in Israel. My father, Matthew Maryles, who is visiting Israel for the holidays, is currently the CEO of American Friends of Bar Ilan University, responsible for raising considerable sums for both operating costs and capital campaigns of this seminal Israeli institution. This is how he’s spending his “retirement”. In his pre-retirement, he was a Wall Street executive with fundraising just a “hobby” – he worked in fundraising as a layman for too many organizations for me to recount: UJA Federation of New York, The Yeshivah of Flatbush, Gesher, Yeshiva University, JCRC, and the list goes on. Given his vast experience and decades-long perspective, I decided to possibly ruin the casualness of the morning and pick his brain about the current state of Israeli fundraising.
“This is a very difficult time,” he said. Although the organization is still substantially meeting its goals for operating support, and has a successful planned-giving fundraising operation, he said it is very difficult to raise money for capital campaigns. “Hardly anyone has a high level of confidence about what the next five years will look like economically and financially. There is no clear sense about what the future looks like, and in that climate, it is very difficult to secure long-term commitments, and thus create a sustainable long-term strategic plan.”
Women in Israel seem to be breaking barriers on nearly every front. A female head of the Supreme Court (MK Dorit Beinisch), a female head of the opposition (MK Tzippi Livni), a female Major General (Maj Gen Orna Barbivay), two female heads of major banks (Shari Arison and Galia Maor), are a few of women's striking accomplishments. Nonetheless, when it comes to education, Israeli girls still lag behind boys. In fact, according to the World Economic Forum's international gender index, Israel ranks 52nd in the world in terms of gender equity, and 68th in terms of girls' education, despite the fact that there is complete gender equality in elementary school enrolment. In other words, Israeli girls are going to school, but they are not necessarily being educated well.
Whenever I see “Clinton” in a newspaper headline, I have to read down a bit to see if the story is about Bill or Hillary. Now that’s novel. The fact that the news is actually more likely to be about her than about him is even more unusual. In a county that has never had a woman president, vice president, or chief of staff, the fact that Hillary Clinton is the first woman running for president, whether or not she even wins, is already history in the making.>
It’s 2 o’clock on Thursday afternoon. I’m shopping for an outfit to wear to a Bat-mitzvah on Saturday night. The saleslady hands me a black linen, straight, lined miniskirt and matching blazer. Why is this called a “power suit”? I wonder. Trying it on, I feel squeezed, tight, unable to move. And I feel molded – even if this particular mold is that of the successful, wealthy, beautiful people. This is just not me, I think to myself as I wriggle out of the skirt. Power suit – sure, other people’s power over my body.