Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A teen stays true to herself - and teaches all of us along the way.

This past weekend, I hung in Atlanta. I was pretty sick and did three concerts (through Limmud SE and Atlanta Jewish Music Festival) with a cold and laryngitis. I was feeling pretty worn out - but positive about the experience of connecting with folks. I love the work I do. And I feel like I offer something unique and have what to teach.

But, girl, was I in for a surprise - I became the learner when I went to the Weber School in Atlanta. My teacher was a teenager named Marina. (I am posting this with Marina's permission to share what she's done.)

I sat in on a session of the ADL - NO HATE club that's forming at the school. Their objectives are to eliminate hate not just from their school - but to teach younger kids in elementary school about tolerance as well as to eliminate bullying.

We went around and shared when there have been times we haven't felt safe being the "real me" - and everything under the sun came up: "i like heavy metal music and no one else does", "i like vegetarian food that doesn't necessarily look that appetizing", "i like to skateboard and i'm a girl", "I liked these shoes my mom bought but a boy in school wore the same one so people made fun of me - and I pretended I didn't like them anymore".

It's so tough to be a teen sometimes. And while I work with teens, and talk about it, sometimes I forget just how hard it is and how badly it can feel.

But Marina shared her story with me. And she reminded me that yes, it's tough, but yes, you can figure out a way to find the path to your own happiness. That doesn't mean you won't get some scars along the way - but, is it cliche to say, it can get better and you can make that happen often with the support of those who love you and care about you.

Marina, thank you for reminding me to always stay true to yourself.

Here is Marina's story: CLICK HERE

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Women of ROI - here's your opportunity to approach gender in the spotlight

Yes, they've done it! They've invested in their participants time and again. And this time, I think there's an excellent opportunity for women to advocate for themselves and take advantage of this opportunity.

ROI has established ROI MICROGRANTS for their participants to help support their innovations.

In my blog post about gender balance in the spotlight, I spoke about women serving on panels, in headliner spots, at conferences, etc.

Here's an incentive for women in ROI to invite their own voices into the spotlight.
(This program is available to ALL genders, sexual preferences and denominations - or non-denominations - of Jews! In the typical Schusterman way, they look to build as inclusive of a program as they possibly can! They are the champions of this work in the Jewish community!)
In case you don't know what ROI is, it's a Global Community of 550 Young Jewish Innovators.
The total amount of money available in up to $1000 grants is $100,000 - offered in order to empower its members in their creative initiatives and extend their impact on the Jewish world.

So, ladies, I call you to action - put yourself in the spotlight - step up and out and apply for a MicroGrant. Maybe this is just the incentive you've been waiting for to take a risk and put yourself out there. Your voices need to be heard!

A couple of details:
- ROIers can apply for a Micro Grant at any point during the year. There will be no set “Application Period” or deadline to stress over.
- Micro Grants will support ROI members in four areas:
    • Speakers’ Bureau – To sponsor or subsidize travel expenses to conferences or participation fees
    • Professional Development – To obtain special training and skill building opportunities
    • Event Sponsorship – To partially fund events
    • Corporate Support – PR, legal and graphic support
Here's how you apply: CLICK HERE

Let's do it!!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

a big week for taking a stand on justice issues

I am truly inspired...and I am energized to do more.

It's been quite a week.

Let's review:
1. Jake Goodman and his partners at Queer Rising stopped traffic in midtown yesterday to bring attention to the fact that my glbt friends do not have the same protections under the laws as I do because I am allowed to get married based on my sexual preference. For a re-cap, click here! (The direct action starts at about 3:00)

2. I published my first essay online on Gender in the Spotlight - READ HERE - in ejewishphilanthropy.com about women's underrepresentation in Jewish communal endeavors and initiatives. I have been fielding many comments, suggestions, defensive responses and attacks as well as accolades and actions already taken to work on the issue. Please do read, comment and act!

3. Christine Quinn, City Council leader, spoke out on how the council approved an IMPORTANT bill on disclosing information about the services pregnancy centers in nyc provide. It's a truth-in-advertising issue that can impact our sisters, daughters and friends. The bill would have the centers post whether they perform abortions, offer birth control and are MEDICALLY LICENSED!! They did a study of these centers and found that they were giving mis-information and counseling women incorrectly! THANK YOU CHRISTINE and all of you working on this area of justice! CLICK HERE

and that's just in my little circle.

What has happened in YOUR world this week - who inspired you in taking action on issues of justice, fairness and equality?

Share share share and let's inspire each other to do more.

I will have more to share about taking a stand in a future post, but i just wanted to take a breath and acknowledge the richness of this moment.
Lo Alecha hamlacha ligmore - it's not on you to finish the work
Vlo ata ben chorin lhibatel mimenah - and you aren't free to not do anything (desist from it)
Vlo achshav, hey matai - AND IF NOT NOW...WHEN???

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Hey Rabbi (Jewlicious) Yonah...Where the women at???

Yet again, I look on the roster of a Jewish music festival and find women grossly underrepresented.

the Jewilicious Festival

I have reached out to Rabbi Yonah numerous times to ask about the inclusion of women as headliners - and have had not one response from him.
If Jewlicious is a pluralistic Jewish event, then women should be represented in the HEADLINERS!
If the issue is Kol Isha (not wanting to hear women's voices for fear that men's thoughts will turn to sexual content and not be focused on prayer) - then label it that and call the festival an ORTHODOX gathering. Don't hide the agenda behind a seemingly pluralistic event.

Are these words from the website lies?
Jewlicious is the most inclusive and dynamic experience for young Jews in the USA. It is not discriminatory against anyone based on religious philosophy, race, sexual orientation, political views or the like

Women are also grossly underrepresented in the upcoming TribeFest (Jewish Federations of North America) gathering as well - in terms of the musical lineup. Limmud seems to be the only org worldwide that is giving women their fair share of the stage.

But sadly, these are not the only examples...and it's not my goal to indemnify Jewish organizations, as I'm part of the system and solutions, not an outsider - but I've been watching this for years.

We are cheating the Jewish community from hearing women's musical contributions to Jewish culture.
How long must we fight this uphill battle that is so OUTDATED - I mean, COME ON ALREADY!

The time has come for people to wake up - and look beyond their noses to find the myriad women creating Jewish cultural musical work out there who are fantastic, community-focused, gifted, production worthy talent.

What will it take?

Artists like Chana Rothman and myself are out there, as watchwomen - keeping track, calling attention, speaking out, trying in any way we can to draw attention to this issue - and we're moving things inches. How do we move things more dramatically, move the mountain??

Do we really need a Women's Music Production Company? Do we need a Women's Music Label as Sarah Aroeste represented our idea in her Forward article?
Or will the Jewish Community wake up and start actively genderbalancing the stage????

Frustrated, saddened, but NOT GIVING UP!

Welcoming comments, ideas, strategies and PLATFORMS!


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Don't Evade the Issues! (Training next week - FREE!)


In 1992, the American Association for University Women published a groundbreaking report called "How Schools Shortchange Girls." The report named a variety of topic areas that, while typically avoided in the formal classroom environment, are central to learners' lives, and coined these topics the "evaded curriculum."

Topic areas include:

  • Harassment and bullying
  • Sexuality and relationships
  • Gender bias, gender identity, and sexual identity
  • Eating disorders and body image
  • Substance abuse

Over the last 4 years, Dr. Shira Epstein (JTS) and I have been developing and training educators across the US in a methodology to better address and NOT EVADE these issue facing our youth when they arise in Jewish programs.

Next week, I will be conducting the Second Training Session of the series - and you all are invited to come.
Don't worry if you weren't there for the first training, you won't be lost at all!!

Here is the information for the training. CLICK HERE

Date 02/17/2011
Time 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm
Location The JCC in Manhattan 334 Amsterdam Avenue at 76th Street

To register, email eve@mayan.org or call 646-505-4424

Addressing Evaded Issues is now run by Ma'yan: Listen for a Change
Ma'yan's mission:
Ma’yan is a nonprofit research and education incubator that focuses a feminist lens on the cultural challenges and identity issues facing Jewish girls in contemporary society. Through research, innovative programming, and community events, we work with these girls, their parents, and their educators to provide resources that help all youth grow into critical, curious, and committed global citizens.