Jewfem Blog

What I Posted on Facebook About the Freundel Case

From Lilith: October 15 at 8:21amIf this is true — IF, of course — the implications here are enormous. Women in Orthodoxy have been complaining about rabbis who carry all kinds of patriarchal and misogynistic ideas with them into the community and into their work. If this story is true, it confirms women’s deepest pains in dealing with certain orthodox rabbis. Layers and layers of practices that hurt women…. - See more at: http://lilith.org/blog/2014/10/what-i-posted-on-facebook-about-the-freundel-case/#sthash.j5do9iFI.dpuf   Read the rest here: http://lilith.org/blog/2014/10/what-i-posted-on-facebook-about-the-freundel-case/

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My political evolution (Lilith Mag)

I remember when I fell in love with Zionism. It was 9th grade at the Yeshiva of Flatbush, the course on Zionism with the legendary Yotav Eliach. Yotav was a great teacher – clear, impassioned, relevant, and totally unconcerned with things like attendance and grades. He would just sit there, sometimes eating his pizza, and talk. He made everything seem so easy, neat and uncomplicated, and he gave us purpose and identity. He taught us that Zionism Is Jewish Nationalism, that Jordan is really Palestine, that there is no such thing as a Palestinian nation, that self-determination is a smokescreen, that anti-Zionism is just a reincarnation of anti-Semitism, that Jews have always lived in the land that we now call Israel, that there are Jewish responses to claims about Deir Yassin, and more. It was like preparing for an AIPAC convention, or for being Israel advocates on campus – in fact both AIPAC and Israel advocacy were important parts of my life so many years ago. For me, Yotav's class was a big part of the reason why I decided to live in Israel. By the time I was 16 I was telling people that I planned on making Aliyah, and in fact I was here by the time I was 23, married with a baby. Everything seemed right. So in some ways, I'm still that Zionist and part of me still loves what Yotav did for me. I'm still living in Israel where I pay mortgage and taxes, conduct my life in Hebrew, argue with taxi drivers, and watch my kids serve in the army. And parts of the narrative about why Jews need and deserve a state of our own in this space still stick with me. I get emotional at Zionist events, I feel a thrill seeing my children in uniform, and I get excited by things like Israeli doctors saving victims of a tsunami. Still, with all that Israel pride, many aspects of Yotav's Zionism have been replaced in my consciousness by a different kind of Zionism, as I started asking questions about truth and illusion, about polemics versus reality, and about the difference between having justice on your side versus having compassion on your side. Something was missing from the Brooklyn Zionism I was brought up on – even if that is, in some ways, the same Zionism that Prime Minister Netanyahu practices, along with a majority of Israelis today. I found cracks in the narrative that wore down the pretty montage. Perspectives seemed muted. The story was too effortful, as if we were taught to answer the questions before we had a chance to ask them. A turning point for me came a few years ago, when I got a job as a writer for an Israeli media- monitoring organization. My job was to write organizational copy that rebuts what was perceived as anti-Israel bias in all kinds of articles, op-eds and television stories. Whenever we came across statements by Palestinians that talk about "occupation",...

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My political evolution

I remember when I fell in love with Zionism. It was 9th grade at the Yeshiva of Flatbush, the course on Zionism with the legendary Yotav Eliach. Yotav was a great teacher – clear, impassioned, relevant, and totally unconcerned with things like attendance and grades. He would just sit there, sometimes eating his pizza, and talk. He made everything seem so easy, neat and uncomplicated, and he gave us purpose and identity. He taught us that Zionism Is Jewish Nationalism, that Jordan is really Palestine, that there is no such thing as a Palestinian nation, that self-determination is a smokescreen, that anti-Zionism is just a reincarnation of anti-Semitism, that Jews have always lived in the land that we now call Israel, that there are Jewish responses to claims about Deir Yassin, and more. It was like preparing for an AIPAC convention, or for being Israel advocates on campus – in fact both AIPAC and Israel advocacy were important parts of my life so many years ago. For me, Yotav’s class was a big part of the reason why I decided to live in Israel. By the time I was 16 I was telling people that I planned on making Aliyah, and in fact I was here by the time I was 23, married with a baby. Everything seemed right. So in some ways, I’m still that Zionist and part of me still loves what Yotav did for me. I’m still living in Israel where I pay mortgage and taxes, conduct my life in Hebrew, argue with taxi drivers, and watch my kids serve in the army. And parts of the narrative about why Jews need and deserve a state of our own in this space still stick with me. I get emotional at Zionist events, I feel a thrill seeing my children in uniform, and I get excited by things like Israeli doctors saving victims of a tsunami. Still, with all that Israel pride, many aspects of Yotav’s Zionism have been replaced in my consciousness by a different kind of Zionism, as I started asking questions about truth and illusion, about polemics versus reality, and about the difference between having justice on your side versus having compassion on your side. Something was missing from the Brooklyn Zionism I was brought up on – even if that is, in some ways, the same Zionism that Prime Minister Netanyahu practices, along with a majority of Israelis today. I found cracks in the narrative that wore down the pretty montage. Perspectives seemed muted. The story was too effortful, as if we were taught to answer the questions before we had a chance to ask them. A turning point for me came a few years ago, when I got a job as a writer for an Israeli media- monitoring organization. My job was to write organizational copy that rebuts what was perceived as anti-Israel bias in all kinds of articles, op-eds and television stories. Whenever we came across statements by Palestinians that talk about “occupation”,...

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Inspired female leadership by Susan Weidman Schneider at Lilith

The first thing I noticed when I walked into the offices of Lilith was the books. Piled up in every corner of desks, chairs, shelves, and the floor, the books were an almost unintended design concept. They tell the visitor that this is a place where people love to read. Really, though, Lilith is a place where people love to *eat*. Well, maybe not eat so much as to work around the conference-table-slash-kitchen-table. My meeting with the Lilith staff took place around the table in the center of the office that was filled with all kinds of salads and baked goods that the multi-talented and multi-tasking staff members made.   “Lilith is a place where people love to talk, and our conference table has always been a place where good talk happens over food--much like at a wonderful dinner table, or even a salon,” Lilith editor-in-chief Susan Weidman Schneider said. “Despite the yumminess of the victuals,  the important part is, of course, not what food each person brings to the table, but what *voices* are at the table. The food is just a signifier of our hospitable impulse to invite in guests and their ideas. For example, the Lilith staff has mentored more than 150 interns in our 35 years of publishing, and almost every one has told us that what they valued most about their experience here was being heard at that very table. Lilith is probably the most intellectually welcoming office I have ever encountered. And what’s amazing about that is that the atmosphere is definitive part of the working culture, a purposeful outgrowth of the feminist ideology that drives the magazine content. “Everything gets done around this table,” Susan told me over salmon salad and soft fennel-molasses bread made by Lilith’s inimitable managing editor Naomi Danis. Every issue and every article gets created over food, slowly, with cooperative input, tossing in and kneading new ideas as the staff chews and digests. The entire magazine is a product of group thinking and collaboration, mostly over food. This is a remarkable model of feminist work. It’s about giving women power and voice in a way that strengthens everyone rather than adopting patterns of being controlling, aggressive, manipulative or hierarchical. That’s not an easy thing. Expressions that are ambivalent, uncertain, hesitant, or help-seeking are not valued in most workplaces. They are often taken as signs that a person is not serious, or intelligent, or “management material”. Definitions of professionalism are often a function of being single-minded, unwavering, determined, loud, aggressive and abrasive. The person most unflinching is often the one whose ideas are adopted and who seen as the “leader”. In fact, much of the current literature on helping women “get ahead” in the workplace focuses on teaching women to adopt these behaviors – drop the qualifiers, we are told, get rid of all the “I think”s and “perhaps”es, and don’t forget to unabashedly self-promote and publicly give yourself credit. If this is the model that developed from generations of women’s exclusion...

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