June 2016

Topic of the Week: Welcome Interns

June 6, 2016

HBI welcomes our next cohort of the Gilda Slifka Internship Program on June 6. Each year, we select a total of eight undergraduates and graduates with a demonstrated interest Jews and gender in around the world to participate in our paid residential internship program. The Gilda Slifka Internship Program provides students with a variety of opportunities to support the work of a scholar at Brandeis or one of the surrounding colleges and universities, complete a research project in the field of Jews and gender, participate in a series of brown bag lectures and explore Jewish landmarks in the greater Boston area with experienced guides.

This year, the eight interns come from Brandeis University, Syracuse University, Concordia University, Notre Dame and the University of Ottawa. Their supervisors will be Lisa Fishbayn Joffe, Jane Kanarek, Matt Boxer, Amy Powell, Sylvia Barack Fishman, Janet Freedman and Penina Adelman. Some of the projects they will support include Religious Divorce in Boston: Exploring Jewish and Muslim Processes, A Feminist Commentary on the Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Arakhin, A Profile of the LGBTQ Jews of Greater Boston, Critical Reception to Philip Roth’s Changing Presentation of “The Jewish Mother” in Portnoy’s Complaint, The Plot Against America, and Nemesis.

Topic of the Week: Intern Reflections

June 23, 2016

Reflections on the Boston Pride Events

By Nora Smolonsky

In the aftermath of the senseless, hate-fueled murders at Pulse nightclub in Orlando two weeks ago, some of the Gilda Slifka HBI summer interns discussed the New England Pride events they attended this month. Rachel Gabrilowitz, who went to events for Providence Pride, felt ambivalence toward the strong police presence there. Some people were calling for fewer police officers, while others believed they contributed to a greater feeling of safety, she said. This issue, however, is a microcosm of a larger conversation about whether the police increase general safety or not. The consensus among the interns is that whether someone feels protected by the police largely dependent on their socioeconomic status and race.

The discussion of safety led to musings on the corporatization of Pride. Ruth Fertig, Farrell Brenner, and I discussed the differences between the two Boston Pride events we attended. The day before the main parade, we went to the Boston Dyke March, the only Boston Pride event without any corporate sponsorship. Fertig said, “It was really good to be in a space with specifically queer women.” Brenner agreed. “The Dyke March was intended to be an accessible space for all kinds of people. It intentionally intersected queer struggles with immigration rights, racism, and misogyny.”

Comparing the corporate-free Dyke March to the parade the next day, which had floats from various banks, Brenner stated that Pride’s corporate sponsors were reinforcing the status quo of acceptable representations of gay people while Pride itself has become inaccessible to people on the margins of the LGBT community. She observed that the target audience at the parade was white, middle class, gay men and felt that this is part of a trend where mass media is attempting to mold queer bodies into heteronormative models. Fertig perceived the corporate sponsorship in a different light, stating, “I suppose it is a shame that pride is corporatized, but I think they couldn’t have it as big as it is without that kind of funding. It’s a shame they have to get it from [banks], but I think it was set up so anyone could access it and come and hang out. They probably couldn’t have had the kind of wide reaching without that kind of funding.”

While the nuances of how Pride is run and by whom can cause conflict, Pride is an opportunity to declare your presence to a whole city and fight against the isolation and stigma that plague queer communities.

If you are interested in attending the Dyke March next year, information can be here: http://www.bostondykemarch.com/. The rest of the Boston Pride events can be found here: http://www.bostonpride.org/.

Nora Smolonsky is a Gilda Slifka HBI Summer intern.