Past Events


Law and Spirit: Yeshivat Maharat and the Training of Orthodox Jewish Women Leaders

In 2009, Sara Hurwitz was ordained as a maharat, a new term created to describe a teacher of Jewish law and spirituality. That same year, Yeshivat Maharat began educating other Orthodox women to follow in her footsteps, taking on leadership positions in synagogues and schools and on college campuses. Yeshiva head Rabbi Jeffrey Fox and current student Lila Kagedan discussed what led to the founding of Yeshivat Maharat, their understanding of Jewish law on women's leadership, and what they hope the yeshiva will accomplish.

This event was co-sponsored by the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, and the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies.


The Politics of Victimhood: The Work of Dahlia Ravikovitch

Ilana Szobel, an assistant professor of modern Hebrew literature at Brandeis University, gave a talk drawing on her recent book, A Poetics of Trauma: The Work of Dahlia Ravikovitch. In her work, Ravikovitch, an Israeli writer and Israel Prize Laureate, raises provocative questions about gender, trauma, and nationalism. Using close reading and the lenses of gender and psychoanalytic theory, Szobel analyzes Ravikovitch’s entire work as a depiction of the emotional structure of trauma survivors. More information about the book.


The Sword, the Pen, and the Uterus: The Role of Jewish Latin American Women in Creating Inclusive Public Spheres

From 1976 until 1983, Argentina lived under a repressive military dictatorship. HBI Scholar-in-Residence Dalia Wassner gave a talk about the creative activism of Jewish women in Argentina as they fought to bring transparency and accountability to the period of terror. This talk was held in Fernando Rosenberg's class, "Culture and Social Change in Latin America."


Boston Jewish Film Festival: Women in Orthodoxy

Two films highlighting the roles of women in Orthodoxy were screened: “The Dreamers” by Israeli filmmaker Efrat Shalom Danon which follows two haredi (ultra-Orthodox) women involved in theater, while “Devout” (from American filmmakers Diana Neilla and Sana Gulzar) follows observant queer Jews who are trying to reconcile their faith with their sexuality. A panel discussion moderated by HBI Founding Director Shulamit Reinharz and featuring HBI Co-Director Sylvia Barack Fishman followed the screenings.


The Faces of Eve: Varieties of Mormon Feminism

Media portrayals of Mormon women have focused on the potential for oppression and abuse within both the mainline church and fundamentalists sects. Drawing on over 20 years of fieldwork among fundamentalist polygamous Mormons, Janet Bennion argues that some "sister wives" find fulfillment and even empowerment through their domestic arrangements. In this lecture, she was joined by historian Laurel Ulrich to look beyond the official patriarchy and find the subtle feminisms Mormon women embody.

Janet Bennion is a full professor of anthropology at Lyndon State College in Vermont. Her latest book, "Polygamy in Primetime: Media, Gender, and Politics in Mormon Fundamentalism", was published in 2012 by the Brandeis Series on Gender, Culture, Religion, and Law, a collaboration between the HBI and the University Press of New England.


Post-Holocaust Antisemitism and the Psychiatry of Trauma

Renowned historian Dagmar Herzog discussed arguments given by post-war West German psychiatrists to deny reparations to the traumatized survivors of Nazi persecution. She also examined the stages of thinking among those American psychiatrists in the United States who sought to legitimate the psychological suffering of Holocaust survivors. Herzog argued that these conflicts between psychiatrists in West Germany and the U.S. over reparations led to the development of the term post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Dagmar Herzog is Distinguished Professor of History and the Daniel Rose Faculty Scholar at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Her specialities include Jewish-Christian relations, sexuality, gender, trauma and the Holocaust. Her most recent book is "Sexuality in Europe: A Twentieth-Century History" (Cambridge University Press 2011).


Body, Earth, and God: Celebrating Artist Helené Aylon

Aptly held at The Rose Art Museum, the HBI celebrated pioneering installation artist Helène Aylon. Aylon read a brief section from her pathbreaking memoir, "Whatever Is Contained Must Be Released: My Jewish Orthodox Girlhood, My Life as a Feminist Artist," accompanied by a retrospective slideshow and discussed of the intersection of Jewish identity and art. After her presentation, Aylon spoke with guests and signed copies of her book.
Helene Aylon's official website

Purchase "Whatever Is Contained Must Be Released"


Justice Tucked within the Folds of the Flesh: An examination of source texts behind the Occupy Sanhedrin exhibit

Brandeis Hillel Rabbi Elyse Winick and artist Sarah Zell Young facilitated a study of the traditional texts, both in the original and in translation, designed for readers and learners at all levels. 

Sarah Zell Young’s Occupy Sanhedrin was a visual and experiential midrash (commentary) on the religious and secular roles of the female body and the foundational structures of justice from the Second Temple to the present. Visitors sat in Young’s reimagined Sanhedrin (rabbinic court) and grappled with texts that related directly to the formation of the exhibition. Young believes that decoding these texts creates new meanings, as the permeable boundaries of the past collapse. She asserts: “Through our own agency, we can look to and through the text and claim it for ourselves, confronting our history and our inheritance of an embodied present.”


New Ideas about Jews, Gender and the Arts

The Spring 2012 HBI Scholars-in-Residence spoke about the roles of Jewish women and men in the arts. Dr. Nina Spiegel explored similarities and differences in American and Israeli Jewish women's choreography. Dr. Michelle Gewurtz considered French photographer Claude Cahun's relationship to her Jewishness, which in turn has impacted critical consideration of her work. And Dr. Tamar Barzel described the importance of Judaism and gender to lower Manhattan's avant-garde music scene. An engaging Q&A discussion moderated by HBI director Shulamit Reinharz and dessert reception followed.


Family, Memory and Story: Faye Moskowitz's "And the Bridge is Love"

Is every author's writing influenced by her life history? Does this impact vary between genres? Creative writing and Jewish American Literature professor at George Washington University, Faye Moskowitz has published three collections of work that negotiate the intersection between memory and story. At our event, Moskowitz read from a new HBI/Feminist Press re-publication of "And the Bridge is Love" and reflected on the link between life and literature. A discussion and book signing followed.


What Do Men Want? Orthodox Jewish Men in an Egalitarian World

It is easy to understand why Orthodox Jewish women might seek to increase their participation in public religious life, but what motivates the men who join them? Israeli author Elana Sztokman and men from four partnership minyanim explained how they answer this question. Dr. Sztokman's "The Men's Section: Orthodox Jewish Men in an Egalitarian World" builds on interviews with more than 50 Orthodox men living in the U.S., Israel and Australia. She finds that changing understandings of gender roles deeply influence both personal and public religious expression.


Today I am a Woman: Stories of Batmitzvah Around the World and in Boston

Temple Reyim, 1860 Washington St., Newton, Mass.

Attendees discovered bat mitzvah stories from around the world, met other bat mitzvah girls, created a craft project, and explored their own bat mitzvah story with maps, writing, interviews and art.

Sponsored by Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, Mayyim Hayyim, Jewish Women's Archive, Temple Reyim and the Synagogue Council of Massachusetts



BJFF Film Screening Co-Sponsor:
Yolande: An Unsung Heroine

This documentary tells the story of Yolande Gabai (de Botton), dubbed the Jewish "Mata Hari." She provided intelligence in 1940s Alexandria that was instrumental in establishing the State of Israel. Born to a Turkish-Jewish mother and raised in Egypt, she circulated in Egyptian high society and was a favorite in King Farouk's court. Yolande's son, the prominent pioneer financier Gilbert de Botton, describes growing up with a secret agent mother.



Life and Loss in the Shadow of the Holocaust: A Jewish-German Dialogue with Author Uta Larkey

Described as "an outstanding addition to Holocaust collections," "Life and Loss in the Shadow of the Holocaust: A Jewish Family's Untold Story" is a stunning portrayal of a German-Jewish family's daily life under the Nazi regime in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Author Uta Larkey explained how she came upon hundreds of handwritten letters and diaries brought to the U.S. by a young émigré from Essen, Germany, the late physician and Holocaust survivor Marianne Steinberg-Ostrand. The letters and journals highlight the agonizing questions faced by two generations of the Kauffman-Steinberg family and the toll exacted when a close-knit family is suddenly spread across three continents.



Writing and Unholy Redemption: Acclaimed Israeli Author Michal Govrin

Michal Govrin, author of "Hold On to the Sun," is one of Israel's most important writers. Selected in 2010 by the Salon du Livre of Paris as one of the most influential writers of the past 30 years, she has published 10 works of poetry, fiction and essays. "Hold on to the Sun" is a kaleidoscope of stories and essays; the haunting stories capture the depths of denial and the exuberance of youth, raising an image of a world utterly different from the one we know. The program included a reading from "Hold on to the Sun" by Govrin and an opportunity for book signing.


"Measure Their History" - Antony Polonsky's "The Jews in Poland and Russia"

Antony Polonsky's three-volume magnum opus provides a comprehensive political, social, economic and religious survey of the Jewish communities of Eastern Europe from 1350 to the present. To mark its publication, this symposium considered the impact of Professor Polonsky's work on the field of Eastern European Jewish studies through a scholarly panel, a keynote by author and journalist Ruth Franklin, and a visual presentation of pre-war Eastern Europe through film clips. Antony Polonsky is the Albert Abramson Professor of Holocaust Studies at Brandeis. He is the editor of "Polin" and has taught at universities throughout the United States and Europe.

Download the program PDF

Correction: We apologize for incorrectly listing the publisher of Antony Polonsky's "The Jews in Poland and Russia" in our program. The correct publisher is the Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, from whom you can purchase volumes 1 and 2 and pre-order volume 3.



Jewish and Muslim Women Reclaim Their Rights

The first release in the HBI Series on Gender, Culture, Religion, and Law, Citizenship, Faith, and Feminism: Jewish and Muslim Women Reclaim Their Rights is the first book to examine religious feminist activists in Israel, the United States and Kuwait. Author Jan Feldman and Islamic law specialist Zainb Alwani discussed the creative strategies these women employ to balance their desire for gender equality with their commitment to traditional religious observance.


Golem & Dybbuk: New Works by Artist-in-Residence Jessica Riva Cooper

Cooper's original, site-specific drawing and ceramics installation examined the Golem, a creature created to do a person's bidding without question, and the Dybbuk, a mischievous spirit, through a feminist perspective. This exhibition was the culmination of  Cooper's month-long stay as the third annual Hadassah-Brandeis Institute Artist-in-Residence and is made possible thanks to the generous support of Avoda Arts and Arnie and Walt Winshall.

Cooper studied stories of the golem and the dybbuk spirits and explored magical realism in Yiddish folklore from a female perspective within the format of drawing and ceramic sculpture. She also investigated fallen economic and environmental climates in regions such as Detroit, Mich., where there are over 10,000 abandoned houses. Cooper offered a slide talk that explored these recurring themes in her work and addressed her art-making process.



Architecture, Life, and Death: A Conversation with Architect Daniel Libeskind and Professor Shulamit Reinharz

The HBI Project on Families, Children, and the Holocaust planned an evening of discussion with world renowned architect Daniel Libeskind. Due to illness, Daniel could not attend, however his wife Nina Libeskind spoke in his honor. Nina Libeskind explained how Daniel's early life experiences have influenced his commitments, vision and work (Daniel Libeskind is a second generation Holocaust survivor). With over 40 projects worldwide, Daniel Libeskind has designed such acclaimed enterprises as the Jewish Museum Berlin and the master plan for the World Trade Center in New York. About the design of the Jewish Museum in Berlin, 12 years in the making, Libeskind says: “This was a building that, using the language of architecture, could take us all, Jews and non-Jews alike, to the crossroads of history, and show us that when the Jews were exiled from Berlin, at that moment, Berlin was exiled from its past, its present, and – until this tragic relationship is resolved – its future.” A reading from his memoir, "Breaking Ground," followed. Shulamit Reinharz then led a conversation focusing on Libeskind’s life and architectural projects that commemorate the Holocaust. This program was co-sponsored by the Boston Society of Architects, Center for German and European Studies at Brandeis University, and the Mandel Center for the Humanities at Brandeis University.



Polygamy, Polygyny and Polyamory: Ethical and Legal Perspectives on Plural Marriage

The practice of plural marriage poses ethical and legal challenges for the liberal state. Internal minorities demand the toleration of polygamous practices. Migrant groups demand recognition of polygynous marriages contracted legitimately under foreign legal regimes. Critics of monogamy ask why the state should limit recognition to dyadic relationships. Critics of marriage ask why the state should impose the terms of intimate relationships rather than allowing the parties to set these themselves. This international conference explored a range of issues related to polygamy, polygyny and polyamory in the United States and around the world.


Meet the Author: Jennifer Rosner

The HBI held a book signing, reading and celebration of "If a Tree Falls: A Family's Quest to Hear and Be Heard." Jennifer Rosner's revelatory memoir explores family, silence and what it means to be heard. When her daughters are born deaf, Rosner is stunned. Then she discovers a hidden history of deafness in her family, going back generations to the Jewish enclaves of Eastern Europe. Traveling back in time, she imagines her silent relatives, who showed surprising creativity in dealing with a world that preferred to ignore them. Order a copy of "If a Tree Falls," the latest publication in the Reuben/Rifkin Jewish Women Writers Series.



614 Event: Laughing at Ourselves – Jewish Humor and Women

20- and 30-something Jewish women in the D.C. area joined editor of 614 Michelle Cove and Not Your Bubbe's Sisterhood for a salon-style conversation called "Laughing at Ourselves: Jewish Humor and Women" at the Sixth & I Historic synagogue.


Rising from the Ashes: Jewish Families and Children During and After the War

This conference explored the changing patterns of Jewish families and Jewish childhood in Europe during and after the Holocaust. International participants addressed three overarching questions: What happened to families and children during the war? How did the genocide impact Jewish family and childhood? What are the child survivors’ memories of their wartime and early postwar experiences?



Jewish Women and Work: A Panel Discussion

Highlighting the landmark research in "Gender and American Jews: Patterns in Work, Education & Family in Contemporary Life," this panel discussion addressed how Jewish women juggle work, family and Jewishness. Introduced by Shulamit Reinharz, director of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, the panel included: Sylvia Barack Fishman, professor of contemporary Jewish life in the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies department at Brandeis University, and also co-director of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute; Len Saxe, professor of Jewish community research and social policy at Brandeis University, and director of the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies and the Steinhardt Social Research Institute at Brandeis University; Lisa Lehmann, director of the Center for Bioethics at Brigham and Women's Hospital, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and associate physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital, married to Rabbi Daniel Lehmann, current president of Boston Hebrew College, and mother to three children.


Writing Between Worlds: On Being a Jewish Writer with Tova Mirvis

Do you consider yourself a Jewish writer? Is this a Jewish book? These are often the first questions asked to a Jewish writer, and the ones that cause the most hedging and protest. HBI scholar-in-residence and author Tova Mirvis discussed how both the preponderance of the question, and the anxiety in the response, are distinctly Jewish. By examining what larger issues are being asked in this seemingly straightforward question, and even more so, what ambivalences and tensions are expressed in the disclaimer-laden responses, Mirvis examined the landscape of contemporary Jewish American literature. A book signing of her novel "The Outside World" followed the lecture.


Jewish Women, Disabilities, and Activism: The Legacy of Gaby Brimmer

"Gaby Brimmer: An Autobiography in Three Voices" is the story of Gaby, a Jewish Mexican woman with physical disabilities who was also a disability activist. This panel discussion was introduced by Marty Krauss, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs and John Stein Professor of Disability Research at Brandeis University. The program included a discussion on the history of disability activism, Gaby's role in the movement, and what the Jewish community is doing today in terms of disability programming. Speakers included Mary Mason, author of  "Working Against Odds: Stories of Disabled Women's Work Lives"; Trudy Balch, who translated "Gaby Brimmer" from Spanish into English; and Nancy Belsky and her daughter Julie Belsky, Jewish community disability activists.



Lecture by HBI Scholar-In-Residence, Renana Leviani

The Tension between Religion and Homosexuality in Israel (2009)

What does it mean to be gay and religious in Israeli society? This talk deals with the tensions between Judaism and homosexuality, and the trends and challenges for the religious gay community in Israel. Special attention will be placed on the lesbian women's experience.

About the Speaker:
Renana Leviani, HBI Scholar-in-Residence, is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Philosophy at Bar-Ilan University in the Doctoral Fellowship of Excellence program. Using a feminist perspective, Renana is examining the moral status of prostitution, particularly claims that would allow the practice on the basis of women's autonomy. Renana received a master's in educational administration and leadership from Tel Aviv University. An advocate for human rights, Renana produces, edits and hosts a radio program devoted to the topic for Kol HaShalom station in Jerusalem.



Cinematographic journeys and personal exploration of Holocaust narratives
By documentary filmmaker & HBI Scholar-in-Residence Ornit Barkai (2009)

"Past-Forward: Journeys to Transnistria" explores childhood memories from the Holocaust era in the Ukrainian heartland, formerly known as the Transnistria area. This documentary was filmed in the U.S., Israel and Ukraine, and offers multi-generational, cross-cultural perspectives, while suggesting associative contexts of post-traumatic memories.



Hadassah-Brandeis Institute Roundtable on Gender and Jewish Thought (2008)

The "Gender and Jewish Thought" conference brought together leading scholars of Jewish thought (including Rabbinics, Exegesis and Philosophy) to discuss the field's engagement with gender studies. Scholars discussed methods of applying gender theory to the study of Jewish texts, the fruit that the critical engagement between gender and Jewish studies has yielded, and possibilities for further research.



Hadassah-Brandeis Institute Roundtable on Gender and Jewish Thought
Keynote Lecture: Daniel Boyarin
Title: "A Love Surpassing Women: The Homme-eroticism of Torah Study" (2008)

The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute hosted philosopher and historian Daniel Boyarin at the Brandeis University campus for an evening of discussion on gender and Jewish thought. In his lecture, "A Love Surpassing Women: The Homme-eroticism of Torah Study," Boyarin explained the tension between male-male friendship (havruta) and female-male relationships among Jews. This division began in ancient Greece and persisted for several centuries. Rabbinic Judaism, with its emphasis on the distinction between the responsibilities of Jewish men and women, is a direct response to this social division.


JewishFilm.2009 Screening (2008)

Title: "A Woman's Pale Blue Handwriting"

It is Austria 1936 and Leonidas Tachezy (Gabriel Barylli), an Austrian government official happily married to the daughter of a prominent family, receives a unsettling letter. Twelve years before, as a student in Germany, he had an affair with a Jewish woman. Now she is asking for his help in placing a half-Jewish eleven year old boy in an Austrian school. This dramatic and complex film, based on a novella by the Jewish author Franz Werfel (1890-1945) delves into a man's ethical crisis. Is the child his? Should he help, and at a time when the Nazis are on the rise?



JewishFilm.2009 Screening (2008)

Title: "Forgotten Transports: To Estonia"

Of the tens of thousands of Czech Jews deported during the Holocaust most were sent to virtually unknown camps and ghettos. Of those, fewer than 300 survived. (Czech deportees to Auschwitz survived at 10 times this rate.) "To Estonia" traces the three-year odyssey of several dozen young women who arrived in Estonia in 1942 aboard a transport of 1,000 Czech Jews. Amazingly, the women quickly formed a mutual support network, surviving together through a willful combination of youthful naiveté, denial, humor, optimism and camaraderie. Special Guest: Director Lukas Pribyl (Brandeis '96). Introduction will be given by Joanna Michlic, director of the HBI Project on Families, Children, and the Holocaust.


Meet the Author & Panel Discussion: Joyce Zonana

Dream Homes: "From Cairo to Katrina, an Exile's Journey" (2008)

The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute (HBI) at Brandeis University welcomed author Joyce Zonana to campus where she discussed her latest work, "Dream Homes: From Cairo to Katrina, an Exile's Journey." Zonana's memoir recounts the struggles of an Egyptian-Jewish American as she forges an identity that bridges a number of apparent divides – Muslim and Jewish, gay and straight, Eastern and Western, urban and suburban, dutiful daughter and independent woman. A panel discussion followed with Boston writers Tehila Lieberman and Susan Freireich, who discussed the process of writing about the self and writing about the "world" through a gendered lens. Brandeis University creative writing professor Melanie Braverman moderated.



2nd Annual Diane (Dina) Markowicz Memorial Lecture on Gender and Human Rights
Lecture by Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella
What History Teaches Us: Gender and Human Rights in the New Century, (2008)

The Lecture Series was created by Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law (GCRL) Project Founder Sylvia Neil and her husband Dan Fischel in memory of Sylvia's late sister, Diane, to honor her commitment to gender equality and social justice.

Justice Abella's theories on gender equality have influenced courts and legislatures around the world. The first Jewish woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada, she was previously a family court justice of the Court of Appeal. Justice Abella has chaired the Ontario Labour Relations Board, the Ontario Law Reform Commission and the Royal Commission on Equality in Employment. Her recent opinion in the landmark case of Bruker v. Markowitz (2008) recognized the rights of Jewish wives to sue for damages in circumstances where their husbands use their power under Jewish law to deny them divorce.

Diane (Dina) Markowicz
November 9, 1956-February 25, 1976
   
Diane (Dina) Markowicz was an extraordinary teenager who inspired people of all ages to pursue social justice. The daughter of Holocaust survivors, she was widely recognized for her advocacy on behalf of human rights, particularly efforts to free imprisoned political and Jewish activists in the former Soviet Union. She was also a passionate spokesperson on behalf of animal rights. She began her studies at Brandeis University after participating in a yearlong program in Israel for young leaders selected from all over the world.  This lecture series was created by Dan Fischel and Sylvia Neil, Diane’s sister, to honor and perpetuate her work and memory.



Lecture by HBI Scholar-In-Residence, Vanessa Paloma:
Mother, Lover, Adulteress or Bride? Gender and Power in Judeo-Spanish Romances from Northern Morocco (2008)

Judeo-Spanish women's oral literature was a powerful medium for cultural transmission of identity and gender roles in the Spanish-speaking Jewish community of Northern Morocco. These songs have embedded messages ranging from deep spiritual teachings to humorous sexual innuendos which simultaneously formed part of a vibrant private women's world. HBI Scholar-in-Residence Vanessa Paloma performed and discussed her research.



Lecture by HBI Scholar-In-Residence, Shulamit Gilboa:
Me Against Myself: Being an Author, Editor and, oy vey, also a Woman (2008)

Being an editor of a popular literary supplement is like being a creativity director and a priest at the same time. The job requires a delicate combination of cynicism, toughness, sensitivity and a great deal of diplomacy. It's like living on the edge – You never know if the poet whose poem you just threw into the editorial trash bin will become the next T.S. Eliot. On the other hand, even if your sole concern is with literature – pure and simple – you can't avoid dealing with megalomaniacs, who think of you as an evil censor. These situations are amplified when the editor is a woman who is an author, or better, an author who is a woman.



Lecture by HBI Scholar-In-Residence, Janice Fernheimer:
Hora-dancing in Harlem: Hatzaad Harishon, Zionism and the Rhetoric of Black Jewish Identity (2008)

In this talk, HBI Scholar-in-Residence Janice Fernheimer discussed Hatzaad Harishon, a biracial non-profit organization that promoted unity among New York City's black and white Jewish populations by emphasizing Zionism and identification with Israel. Fernheimer showed how the group's nationally recognized black Jewish youth dance troupe and its white Jewish leader, Sybil Kaufman, exemplify both the organization's successes and challenges in advocating for a more inclusive, diverse concept of Jewish identity.



Meet the Author, Judith Katzir:
Dearest Anne: A Tale of Impossible Love: A conversation with the author Judith Katzir (2008)

Best-selling Israeli novelist Judith Katzir recreates a writer's coming-of-age during the 1970s in her novel "Dearest Anne." When Rivi returns to Israel decades after a turbulent affair with her female literature teacher, she recovers the emotionally charged journals she once addressed to Anne Frank. As Rivi reads them again, readers experience her teenage angst and the jolt of her illicit affair that ended in scandal. Provocative and heartbreaking, the book gracefully echoes Frank's famous diary and at the same time engages with its tragic heroine, revealing universal truths about the transition from girl to woman. Katzir discussed her identity as a Jewish, Israeli, woman writer, as well as the connections to Anne Frank and the memory of Holocaust in Israel.



Lecture:
The Diane (Dina) Markowicz Memorial Lecture on Women's Human Rights and Cultural and Religious Conflicts - Nobel Laureates Shirin Ebadi and Jody Williams (2008)

The Lecture Series was created by Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law (GCRL) project founder Sylvia Neil and her husband Dan Fischel, in memory of Sylvia's late sister, Diane, to honor her commitment to gender equality and social justice.

Diane (Dina) Markowicz
Nov. 9, 1956 - Feb. 25, 1976
  
Diane (Dina) Markowicz was an extraordinary teenager who inspired people of all ages to pursue social justice. The daughter of Holocaust survivors, she was widely recognized for her advocacy on behalf of human rights, particularly efforts to free imprisoned political and Jewish activists in the former Soviet Union. She was also a passionate spokesperson on behalf of animal rights. She began her studies at Brandeis University after participating in a yearlong program in Israel for young leaders selected from all over the world.  This lecture series was created by Dan Fischel and Sylvia Neil, Diane’s sister, to honor and perpetuate her work and memory.


Conference:
Untying the Knots: Theorizing Conflicts Between Gender Equality and Religious Laws (2008)

Developed by the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law (GCRL), this international conference brought together theorists, policymakers and activists to discuss ways of conceptualizing and engaging with gender and culture/religion conflicts. Speakers discussed struggles in Canada, Israel, Senegal, South Africa and the U.S. Featured keynote speaker was Martha Minnow, the Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Professor of Law, Harvard Law School.

This conference was generously funded by gifts from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Hadassah Endowment and the Dan Fischel and Sylvia Neil Philanthropic Fund.

This conference was also co-sponsored by the Fanya Gottesfeld Heller Center for the Study of Women in Judaism at Bar Ilan University, The International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life, and the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies.


Poetry Reading with Israeli poet, Linda Zisquit: Words with the Poet (2008)

Israeli poet Linda Zisquit, whose beautiful short lyrics are written in her native English tongue, read new poems in Golding 107 on the Brandeis campus. Linda Zisquit has published three full-length collections of poetry, most recently, "The Face in the Window" (Sheep Meadow, 2004), as well as translations from Hebrew poetry, including "Wild Light" (Sheep Meadow, 1997) for which she received an NEA Translation Grant, and "Let the Words: Selected Poems of Yona Wallach" (Sheep Meadow, 2006). Her translation of Rivka Miriam’s poetry will be published this year by Toby Press. She has recently completed a new manuscript of poems called Porous. Born in Buffalo, N.Y., she has lived in Jerusalem since 1978; she is poetry coordinator for the Shaindy Rudoff Creative Writing Program at Bar Ilan University, and she runs ARTSPACE, an art gallery in Jerusalem representing contemporary Israeli artists.


Lecture and Book Signing with Brandeis Alumn, Alicia Ostriker: The Book of Ruth and the Love of the Land (2008)

The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute (HBI) at Brandeis University welcomed author and poet, Alicia Ostriker ’59, for a lecture and book signing. Ostriker spoke about her book, "For the Love of God: The Bible as an Open Book," which offers a provocative re-interpretation of six essential Biblical texts. This program was a related event to the HBI exhibition, “A Thousand and One Inventions,” which expands on the themes in Lynne Avadenka’s limited edition artist’s book, "By A Thread."


Film: New England Premiere of Nina's Journey (2008)

The true story of one woman's struggle to escape the Nazi pogroms of World War II inspired writer and director Lena Einhorn to create this award-winning film, shown as part of the National Center For Jewish Film's 11th Annual Film Festival. Nina Rajmic (Agnieszka Grochowska) was born and raised in Warsaw, but when Poland was invaded by Germany, she and her family discovered their nationality didn't matter as much as the fact they were Jewish. Nina, her brother Rudolph (Pawel Iwanicki) and her parents were driven from their home and relocated to the Warsaw ghetto, where they became second-class citizens and learned first hand about the ruthlessness of the Third Reich. While Nina and Rudolph were lucky enough to survive the abuse that the occupying forces meted out, their parents were not so lucky, and in time Nina fled Poland in the company of fellow student Jerzy Einhorn (Andrzej Niemczyk) and settled in Sweden, where they completed their education and enjoyed successful careers in medicine. Ninas Resa (aka Nina's Journey) was adapted from Lena Einhorn's book about the life of her mother Nina Rajmic-Einhorn, with recordings of Nina used on the soundtrack for narration.

This film was co-presented by the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute and Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry.


Lecture by HBI Scholar-In-Residence, Stephen Glantz:
Partisan life with the Bielski Brothers through the eyes of three teenaged siblings (2008)

Mike, Bella and Ann Stoll lived with the Bielski brothers and another partisan group in the last two years of the war. Mike and Bella fought as 16- and 17-year-olds, committed many acts of sabotage and sometimes revenge. Ann was very young and part of a dance troupe that was the USO of Jewish partisans. Stephen Glantz's talk gave an inside look at the life of teenaged Jewish partisans.



Workshop:
Begin the Book: Simple, Elegant, Adaptable Structures (2008)

The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute (HBI) at Brandeis University held a bookmaking workshop with inaugural HBI artist-in-residence Lynne Avadenka. Avadenka’s site-specific installation, “A Thousand and One Inventions,” expands on the themes in her limited edition artist’s book, "By A Thread."



Opening Reception for HBI Artist-in-Residence, Lynne Avadenka:
A Thousand and One Inventions (2008)

The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute hosts its inaugural artist-in-residence, Lynne Avadenka, from March 17 to May 21. Lynne Avadenka’s site-specific installation “A Thousand and One Inventions” boldly transformed the Kniznick Gallery’s unique architecture into a work of art. Painting, drawing and assemblage created an environment that opens up and reveals layers visually, as a book does conceptually. “A Thousand and One Inventions” expands on the themes in Avadenka’s limited edition artist’s book, "By A Thread." Created in 2004 with a grant from the HBI, the book imagines a conversation between Queen Esther, the heroine of Purim, and Scheherazade, the teller of a thousand and one tales. Both women spoke up when they could have remained silent and saved many lives through their fortitude.



Lecture by HBI Scholar-In-Residence, Lenore Weitzman:
Kashariyot: Women in the Jewish Resistance during the Holocaust (2008)

The Kashariyot were secret couriers for the Jewish resistance who traveled illegally on false documents and smuggled underground papers, money, food, false documents, medicine, news – and other Jews – in and out of the ghettos of Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe. The Kashariyot were also an underground voice-radio that carried the news of what the Germans were doing and revealed their highly secret operations and the mass killings – and warned and urged the Jews to mobilize for resistance. The Kashariyot also played a critical role in that resistance by securing and smuggling weapons into the ghettos for the would-be revolts. Finally, in the last stage of the ghettos, when it became clear that the ghettos were going to be liquidated, the kashariyot focused on rescuing Jews from the ghettos and to saving their lives. While the heroic activities of the kashariyot were a source of great pride during the Holocaust, their contributions have been ignored by most postwar historians. In this talk, Weitzman raised questions about how that history has been written and explores the extent to which it has been influenced by gender-based assumptions about the nature of resistance during the Holocaust.



Community Program: Book Launch and Conversation:
Resistance and Accommodation: Creating Halakhic Partnerships (2008)

The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute (HBI), in partnership with the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA), hosted an historic evening of discussion with Tova Hartman, author of Feminism Encounters Traditional Judaism. With the latest publication in the HBI Series on Jewish Women, Hartman provided an innovative analysis of how creative tensions between modern Orthodoxy Judaism and feminism can lead to unexpected perspectives and beliefs.



Lecture by HBI Scholar-In-Residence, Dr. Judith Lewin:
Binding Oneself to Judaism in Contemporary Jewish Women’s Fiction (Allegra Goodman, Dara Horn, Ruchama King) (2008)

This talk by Judith Lewin examined two contemporary first novels by Jewish women in relation to Allegra Goodman as a model for depicting religious practice sympathetically. Lewin argued that Goodman (Kaaterskill Falls), Dara Horn (In the Image) and Ruchama King (Seven Blessings) portray religion, spirituality and religious learning as integral to women’s lives. This contrasts with writers who portray the transition toward secularity, anxious relations toward being a Jew, or the struggle to assimilate in other, perhaps prior strands of Jewish writing. Dr. Lewin offered contextualized close readings of the negotiation between the religious and the secular focused on the gendered symbols of water and tefillin and the fraught relation between women’s bodies and their minds.



Lecture: Wine & Water: An intriguing look at women and ritual (2008)
with panelists Dr. Vanessa Ochs, Deb Kram and Dr. Rahel Wasserfall. Moderated by Sylvia Barack Fishman

This HBI event was an intriguing look at women and ritual. Participants discussed a diverse range of perspectives on new and old rituals, in new settings with new interpretations. The panelists explored such issues as: Why we need these rituals? What does ritual mean and do for Jewish women? What kind of connection do we want by reclaiming these rituals?

This program was related to "The Mikvah Project," a photography exhibition by Janice Rubin and Leah Lax featuring Jewish women returning to, and reclaiming, Jewish ritual immersion, an ancient Jewish ritual being personalized for modern use.


Artist Exhibit and Opening Reception: "The Mikvah Project" (2007)

The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute at Brandeis University and Mayyim Hayyim Community Mikveh presented a photography exhibition by Janice Rubin and Leah Lax entitled "The Mikvah Project" at the Mayyim Hayyim Gallery. The exhibition featured Jewish women returning to, and reclaiming, Jewish ritual immersion, an ancient Jewish ritual being personalized for modern use. Two collections of photographs, accompanied by women’s personal stories, explore the role of mikvah and the range of meanings it has for many different women.

This exhibit was sponsored by the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute and Mayyim Hayyim Living Waters Community Mikveh.


Pacifists and Patriots:  American Jewish Women and the Peace Movement Between the World Wars by HBI Scholar-in-Residence, Melissa Klapper (2007)

Throughout the difficult years of World War I and especially the 1920s and 1930s, American Jewish women agitated for pacifist solutions to international disputes. They joined groups like the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, worked through separate Jewish women's organizations such as the National Council of Jewish Women, organized comprehensive foreign policy education in their communities, conducted peace rallies, supported arms reduction, pushed hard for the U.S.'s entrance into the League of Nations and the World Court, and developed peace curricula for religious schools. A women's peace movement based on ideas about universal motherhood appealed to Jewish women, who often valued their own traditional roles as mothers. Yet they were faced with a crisis during the 1930s as their commitment to universal peace came into conflict with their deep concern over particular threats to Jews and Judaism at home and abroad.



Boston Jewish Film Festival (2007)

The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute proudly sponsored two films: "The Powder and the Glory" and "The Cemetery Club" at the 19th Annual Boston Jewish Film Festival



Film Screening: "Pickles, Inc." (2007)

The HBI held a film screening and discussion with the film's director, Dalit Kimor.

In the Arab Israeli village of Tamra, in Galilee, widows lead a cloistered and restricted life, and often live below the poverty line, struggling to raise their children on a monthly social security allowance from the state. But in February 2003, eight widows of Tamra decided to challenge convention by starting up a business venture – the Azka Pickle Cooperative – seeking financial independence for themselves and their children. Follow these women as they establish a tiny factory for pickling vegetables and develop a market for their product in local stores. With little formal education or work experience outside the home, the women face numerous hurdles as the business struggles to expand to stores throughout Israel – while their personal lives reflect the joys and sadness of family weddings, bereavement, and loneliness. "Pickles, Inc." portrays this unconventional business startup and offers rare insight into the lives of courageous women striving to overcome extraordinary obstacles to achieve a better life.



Author Signing: Eternally Eve, Celebrating Eve: Revealing New Layers of Meaning (2007)

The HBI honored the landmark publication “Eternally Eve: Images of Eve in the Hebrew Bible, Midrash, and Modern Jewish Poetry” with special guest, author Anne Lapidus Lerner. Author Anne Lapidus Lerner provides a fascinating analysis of the story of Eve, using modern poetry in conversation with biblical texts and rabbinic rewritings to reveal new layers of meaning.



Lecture by Hadassah-Brandeis Scholar-in-Residence, Hannah Safran America in the Promised Land: Is Feminist Activism in Israel Local or Imported? (2007)

Following the title of the book written by Marcia Freedman “Exile in the Promised Land” that describes the amazing contribution of one American-Jewish woman to the creation of feminism in Israel in the 70’s, Safran discussed issues of originality and imitation in the history of feminist movements in Israel. Sharing her own story as a feminist and peace activist, Safran argued that feminism in Israel derives its analysis and its call to action from local struggles and local points of view.



Create. Connect. Celebrate! (2007)

The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute launched their new desktop weekly planner: Creating Art, Promoting Change: Works by Jewish Women.

The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute (HBI) at Brandeis University launched their new calendar titled “Creating Art, Promoting Change: Works by Jewish Women.” The calendar features 16 artists from around the globe who embody the spirit of activism. Provocative and full-color glossy photos are accompanied by biographies about each woman’s art and life. The visual artworks selected for the calendar combine a range of media, from corten steel sculpture and needlework, to sprayed acrylic painting on canvas and works created from recycled materials. The opening reception took place at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute,with the creation of a community art mosaic led by Brandeis alumna, Tova Speter. A discussion and signing with artist, Tarmar Hirschl along with a reception, followed.



Lecture by Hadassah-Brandeis Scholar-in-Residence, Lilach Rosenberg Stretching the Boundaries of Motherhood–Emissaries and Evacuees in Eretz Israel in the 1940s. (2007)

Rosenberg examined the formation of the female identity in Israel by focusing on mothers who left their own families behind in order to help women and children in displaced persons camps in post-Holocaust Europe.


Lecture by Hadassah-Brandeis Institute Scholar-in-Residence. Israeli "Baby and Child Care": The Social Construction of Israeli Babies and Mothers by Parents' Manuals, Sachlav Stoler-Liss (2007)

HBI Scholar-in-Residence Sachlav Stoler-Liss discussed her work on early 1920s Israel, where a group of Israeli doctors and psychologists began a prolonged project of social guidance for parents. Focusing on the written parents' manuals published in Hebrew beginning in the 1920s, Stoler-Liss examined how these manuals describe in great detail the proper mother, and who is a proper child, with using the ongoing theme of "A Sound Mind in a Sound Body."


Lecture by Hadassah-Brandeis Institute Scholar-in-Residence. “The Audacity of Holiness”: Orthodox Women's Theater in Israel, Reina R. Reiner (2007)

Reina R. Reiner surveyed the theatrical activity of Israeli orthodox women during the past 10 years and the rabbinical response. She offered an in-depth analysis of chosen performances, as well as the complex relationships among various factions within orthodox society and the larger Israeli society. Reiner showed how orthodox women's theater strengthens the community from within, rather than reaching out to others.


Lecture by Professor Julie Cwikel: Using Social Epidemiology to Understand the Global Epidemic in Trafficking in Women for Sex Work. (2007)

Prof. Julie Cwikel is the founder and director of The Center for Women’s Health Studies and Promotion, Israel’s only academic center of women’s health studies with a multi-disciplinary approach. While in residence at the HBI, her research will investigate how women learn about critical health behaviors in their lives including menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and maintaining health and mental health.


Film Screening: Three Mothers (2007)
New England Premiere! Part of the National Center for Jewish Film's 10th Annual Film Festival

A drama of loyalty, love and deceit spanning three generations and three languages. The Hakim triplets were born to a wealthy Egyptian-Jewish family in 1942. Sixty years later – after husbands and children, careers and love affairs – the sisters are living together again, in Israel. Moving between present and past, a suspenseful and poignant tale reveals the sisters' unshakable bond – and a long-hidden secret. Rose gets it right when she confesses: we were better sisters than we were mothers.

Co-presented by the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute.


Lecture by Hadassah-Brandeis Institute Scholar-in-Residence, Dr. Federica Francesconi: Inside the Ghetto: Italian Jewish Women in Eighteenth-Century Modena (2007)

Hadassah-Brandeis Institute Scholar-In-Residence, Dr. Federica Francesconi's talk shed new light on eighteenth-century Italian Jewish life, analyzing if and how Italian Jewish women modified their own self-consciousness and changed the systems of balanced relations within the upper and lower middle classes, and between men and women within Jewish society. Dr. Francesconi added another model of understanding of private and public spheres in the Italian context, the different roles that men and women had in it, and the formative influence of this particular religious and social environment.


Hannah Frank: 75 Years of Inspiration (2007)

Fiona Frank, M. Ed., niece of the artist, delivered a talk about her aunt's life and work. Frank pursued her passion for creating art and ultimately became one of Glasgow's most recognized artists. Co-sponsored by the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute and the Women's Studies Research Center, Hannah Frank: A Jewish Artist of Glasgow is the first U.S. showing of Scottish artist Hannah Frank.

This event was held in part of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute's 10-year anniversary celebration at the Women's Studies Research Center at Brandeis University.


Reading by author and Hadassah-Brandeis Institute Scholar-in-Residence, Orly Castel-Bloom (2007)

Hadassah-Brandeis Institute scholar-in-residence and Israeli author Orly Castel-Bloom read selections from her book, "Textiles." Castel-Bloom, one of Isreal's preeminent writers, is a part of the "Generation of the 80's," which marked a major change in Hebrew literature. Her novel Dolly City has been included in UNESCO's Collection of Representative Works, and in 1999 she was named one the fifty most influential women in Israel. Her work has been published in eighteen languages.


Seminar on Creating and Maintaining Jewish Families, (2007)

Recent studies indicate that men and women think, act and react very differently to life situations that touch on connections to Jews and Judaism. However, very little research has focused directly on these differences – or their implications to Jewish communities. This seminar was a first step in launching a systematic study of the intersection of religion and gender. Presentations were made by cutting-edge researchers looking at the behavior and attitudes of Jewish singles as well as inmarried, intermarried and conversionary households and families in the United States, Israel and other Jewish communities. Researchers and policy planners engaged in conversations, employing the interdisciplinary lenses of the social sciences: psychology, anthropology, statistical research and qualitative interviews. This event was co-sponsored by The Steinhardt Social Research Institute and The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute.


Lecture by Scholar-in-Residence, Dr. Federica Francesconi: "Did Italian Jewish Women Have a Renaissance?" (2007)

Hadassah-Brandeis Institute scholar-in-residence Federica Francesconi's talk considered Italian Jewish society from the Renaissance to the modern era and presented an evaluation of Jewish culture in the Italian Renaissance. She also addressed the question of whether Jewish women held a more prominent position than Christian women.


Workshop led by artist and WSRC scholar Fran Forman: Create Art Inspired by Hannah Frank (2007)

Co-sponsored by the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, and the Women's Studies Research Center, Hannah Frank: A Jewish Artist of Glasgow is the first U.S. showing of Scottish artist Hannah Frank. Surrounded by the drawings and sculptures of the 98-year-old's work, WSRC scholar Fran Forman led a workshop where participants created works of art in pen and ink and collage.


Lecture by Scholar-in-Residence Moshe Rosman (Bar Ilan University)
Jewish Women in Poland in the Sixteenth Through Eighteenth Centuries & Early Hasidic Attitudes Towards Women (2007)

This talk considered the approaches, methodologies and sources that enabled us to learn about women's lives in the early modern period in Poland and summarized the results that such research yields. These included the economic roles women played, women's progress as cultural actors, and changing ideas about women.

"Early Hasidic Attitudes Towards Women" surveyed the ideas about women expressed by early Hasidic leaders in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In their view, it was forbidden for women to serve as sex objects, but proper that they be "mitzvah objects."


A slice of Scottish art nouveau, the drawings, sculptures, and writings of Hannah Frank (1908- )

Hannah Frank's (1908- ) work is a slice of Scottish art noveau. Her drawings, sculptures and writings reveal the inner spirit of a Jewish woman artist from Glasgow. Undeterred by the challenges faced by women and Jews in the 1920s, Frank pursued her passion for creating art, ultimately becoming one of Glasgow's most recognized artists. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Hannah focused her energy on her trademark black and white drawings. She illustrated posters for local Jewish organizations and was an early and vocal supporter of Israel. In the 1950s, under the tutelage of Benno Schotz, Hannah began sculpting the human form. Hannah Frank's artwork has been widely exhibited at prominent institutions including the Royal Glasgow Institute, and most recently at the London Jewish Cultural Centre. Co-sponsored by the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, and the Women's Studies Research Center, Hannah Frank: A Jewish Artist of Glasgow was the first U.S. showing of the 98-year-old's work.

This exhibit was held in part of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute's 10-Year Anniversary Celebration at the Women's Studies Research Center at Brandeis University.


A Day of Study on Women, Equality, and Rabbinic Law in Israel: Lecture and Film Screenings (2007)

Feminist and legal scholar Ruth Halperin-Kaddari gave a talk entitled, “Women’s Rights and the Politics of Divorce in Israel.” Dr. Halperin-Kaddari is an expert on family law, feminist critique of law and women's rights in Israel, and is the director of the Rackman Center for the Advancement of the Status of Women at Bar-Ilan University. Following the talk, two films were screened, "Mekudeshet" and "Cohen’s Wife."

The day of learning was organized by HBI’s new Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law, whose mission is to foster creative approaches to negotiating the tension between women's equality and practices justified in terms of cultural and religious traditions. The project was founded through a generous donation from Sylvia Neil, a professor at Northwestern University School of Law.

The day's events were co-sponsored by the Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, Brandeis’ International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life and the Gender and International Development Committee of the Women's Studies Research Center at Brandeis.


Film Screening and Lecture "Filmmaking on the Jewish Experience: Two films from the Maale School of Television, Film & The Arts, Jerusalem" (2006)

Filmmaker, Award-Winner, and HBI Scholar-in-Residence, Liliane Targownik presented two films from the religious film school, "Maale": Cohen's Wife (director: Nava Heifetz, 24 min., 2000) and Tainted (director: Elkie Hershberg, 18 min., 2005). Targownik asked the question: "Do these religious filmmakers need to develop a different film language to tell their stories?" These films showed a new development in contemporary Israeli filmmaking: the writers and directors tell stories from the religious community for the religious community. In most cases, it is the female students who dare to confront taboos such as rape and unwanted pregnancies.


Film: "Marti: The Passionate Eye" (2006)

Held at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and in partnership with the 18th annual Boston Jewish Film Festival, the HBI sponsored the film screening of "Marti: The Passionate Eye" and held a question and answer period with director Shirley Horrocks. After a childhood in a London Jewish orphanage, Marti Friedlander moved to New Zealand and became one of its most illustrious photographers. She has captured stunningly fresh and iconic images of protest activities, artists and sheep for over 40 years. The documentary follows Friedlander, now in her 70s, as she reflects back on her legacy and the people who have inspired her.


Visual Display: "The Clothesline Project" (2006)

"The Clothesline Project" is a visual display of shirts with messages and illustrations that have been designed by survivors of violence or by someone who cares about a survivor or victim of violence. Displayed in the Shapiro Campus Center at Brandeis University, the event was sponsored by the HBI, Hillel, Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, REACH Beyond Domestic Violence and Kol Isha, the Domestic Violence Program of Jewish Family & Children's Service. The purpose of the project is to increase awareness of the impact of domestic and dating violence, to celebrate survivors' strengths, and to provide an avenue for survivors to break the silence that often surrounds domestic and dating violence experiences. Visit "The Clothesline Project's" website.


Panel Discussion: All in the Family: Shared Values and the American Jewish Future (2006)

An extraordinary afternoon with: Richard Joel (Yeshiva University), Arnold Eisen (Jewish Theological Seminary and Stanford University), Eric Yoffie (Union for Reform Judaism), Larry Moses (Wexner Foundation), and moderated by Judith Shulewitz (Essayist and Critic).


The Family as "Cell": Medical Examinations and Standards for Women (2006)

HBI scholar-in-residence, Eyal Katvan, L.L.M., Ph.D. discussed how coerced diagnostic practices were and still are based on patriarchal foundations that perceive women as responsible for maintaining or disrupting the family order. He considered how the family "cell" functions like a biological cell, employing specific mechanisms to expel unwanted elements and introduce desirable ones.


The JGirl’s Guide Book Signing: An Evening with the Authors (2006)

Regional Massachusetts chapters of Hadassah, in partnership with the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, hosted a book signing and discussion with the esteemed authors of "The JGirl’s Guide" – Penina Adelman and Shulamit Reinharz. The authors discussed the book and shared tips on dealing with teenage angst, all through a Jewish lens.


Jewish Women Talk about Circumcision: Gender and Jewish Identity (2003)

The age-old custom of brit milah continues to be practiced almost universally among Jews. In many countries, however, new questions about circumcision are being raised. At this conference, six dynamic women with diverse views address these issues. Join us for an evening of conversation held on in the spirit of “yes” or “no,” but rather to encourage thoughtful reflection.


Girl with Two Landscapes: The Wartime Diary of Lena Jedwab 1941-1945 (2003)

Dorothée Rozenberg gave a reading of this important book of a personalized account by an adolescent girl caught up in the turmoil and terror of World War II. This event was co-sponsored by HBI and the NEJS department. Light refreshments were served.


The Annual Women’s Celebration of Sukkot (2001-2005)

Co-sponsored by the Sh’ma Journal each year, and Mayyim Hayyim in other years, this celebration consists of various speakers and performers of religious, musical and artistic themes. Families from the community join together to participate in these activities and celebrate under the decorated sukkah.


Future of the American Jewish Family (1998)

Today’s American Jewish families inhabit a landscape differing significantly from prior eras in Jewish history. They are well-educated; extraordinarily high rates of Jewish youth leave home to attend college. They are very mobile; members of extended family units seldom live in the same geographical area. Patterns of family formation have changed dramatically. One-third of American Jews have never married or are divorced or widowed. Fertility rates are below replacement level, except among the most traditional families. Ideas of Jewish identity have undergone radical shifts. Most strikingly, American Jewish families are associated with a liberal political and social “package” of beliefs, which sometimes seem to diverge from traditional Jewish lifestyles and values. This conference takes a fresh look at the impact of these dramatic changes. It explores the ramifications of transformations in the American Jewish family and discusses strategies that strengthen – or weaken – Jewish family life.