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Why So Many Feminists Are Jewish

(L-R) Diane Von Furstenberg, Gloria Steinem, Bella Abzug and Barbra Streisand at a benefit for Women USA in Streisand's honor. (Photo by David Mcgough/DMI/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
(L-R) Diane Von Furstenberg, Gloria Steinem, Bella Abzug and Barbra Streisand at a benefit for Women USA in Streisand’s honor.

In 2005, the Jewish Women’s Archive launched an online exhibit called Jewish Women and the Feminist Revolution, which uses a timeline, interviews and scans of historical artifacts to look at the contributions of Jewish feminists to Jewish and American history.

Take a look at this fascinating depiction of how and why Jewish women have played key roles in building and advancing the modern American Women’s Movement:   www.jwa.org/feminism.

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In covering the exhibit, The Forward ran its own fascinating commentary with the headline: Why Are There So Many Jewish Feminists? http://forward.com/articles/2305/why-are-there-so-many-jewish-feminists/#ixzz3rJlyjUpC

The list of 90-plus Jewish feminists in Wikipedia takes up the entire screen. Many names are well-known: Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Bella Abzug, Susan Sontag, Erica Jong. (One of the only male names on the list: Reb Zalman!)

betty op_playboybunny1501We know a great deal about the views these women expounded, often from their writing, such as Friedan’s’ 1963 classic, “The Feminine Mystique.” But how these legendary leaders were impacted by feminism is less well examined.

For Caryn Aviv, modern American feminism was a two-way street for its founders. For Caryn Aviv, it is not enough to credit these champions of human rights for the progress that has been made. She also asks how the feminist movement personally affected them as women and activists.

feministOn Thursday, November 19, the former CU professor, who is now the Associate Director of Judaism Your Way and a Rabbinic Candidate, will be at the Boulder JCC for a Scholars Series talk, “How Jewish Women Shaped Feminism and How Feminism Shaped Jewish Women.”

Join Menorah to learn more about how these illustrious, accomplished and determined women made a significant contribution to the struggle for gender equality, and how this very struggle played out in their personal lives.

About Kathryn Bernheimer

Director of Menorah: Arts, Culture and Education at the Boulder JCC. The former film and theater critic for the Boulder Daily Camera, Kathryn is the author of "The Fifty Greatest Jewish Movies" and "The Fifty Funniest Films of All Time."

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