Past Events

"Flawless" at the Boston Jewish Film Festival 

HBI is proud to be sponsoring the film, “Flawless” at the Boston Jewish Film Festival. “Flawless“is a 2018 Israeli film directed by Tal Granit and Sharon Maymon that tackles issues facing transgender youth and other marginalized communities in Israel. In this film, Eden, a trans high schooler, discovers that her two best–and only–friends are secretly planning to sell their kidneys to pay for cosmetic surgery and dresses for prom. Though dubious at first, Eden decides that joining them may be the answer to her prayers. But when their plans go awry, the girls are confronted by their own prejudices and find themselves on a journey of self-discovery, shaping these self-conscious high-schoolers into adults. “Flawless” was nominated for 12 Ophir Awards including the award for Best Picture. This was the first film in the history of Israeli cinema for which a transgender woman, Stav Strashko (Eden), was nominated for the Ophir Best Actress award.

She Can Do Anything: Jewish Life in the Post Soviet States

October 23, 2019, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Rapaporte Treasure Hall Goldfarb Library

Brandeis University, Waltham, MA

“She can do anything!” has become the slogan and motto for Project Kesher leaders in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus as they have rebuilt Jewish life and blazed the trail for a feminist movement in their countries. On October 23, 2019, Project Kesher U.S. founders, long-time supporters, and academic experts will tell the story of the global sisterhood that supported the emergence of women as the leaders of Jewish community and civil life in the post-Soviet states. 

Founder Sallie E. Gratch will be joined by Project Kesher Ukraine Director Vlada Nedak to link the history to the present work and vision of the future. Later in the day, a panel of academic experts will provide the historical context and lay out pathways for future researchers using the Project Kesher archival collection now housed at Brandeis.  

The Voices That Wouldn't Be Silenced
Wednesday, October 2, 2019, 7:00pm
Liberman-Miller Lecture Hall
Epstein Building, Brandeis University, 
Waltham, MA
In the late 1800s and early 1900s in Russia, the only escape from pogroms for thousands of girls was the prospect of a job or marriage that would take them to "America." Unfortunately, fleeing poverty and strife, an estimated 200,000 Jewish girls and women found themselves in the clutches of Zwi Migdal, a legal traffickers' union that operated with impunity throughout South America for 70 years. Talia Carner, author of The Third Daughter, will reveal how the cries of these women prompted her to expose a shameful chapter in Jewish history. She will discuss actions that can be taken today to abolish human enslavement.

Knocking at Our Hearts

Sunday, September 8, 2019 

1:00 PM - 4:45 PM

Temple Beth Zion, 1566 Beacon St.,
Brookline, MA

Mayyim Hayyim and Kavod (a lay-led Jewish community focused on social justice) present the 5th annual High Holiday program: Knocking at Our Hearts. Prepare your whole self – body and soul – for the holidays with the power and joy of communal song. This year, our teacher will be singer/composer/scholar, Galeet Dardashti, who will offer two workshops focusing on Sephardi and Mizrahi music.




The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute is proud to present Ayelet Carmi and Meirav Heiman: One Foot Planted. Israeli artists Carmi and Heiman create ambitious video works that explore the impact that politics and conflict have on Israeli women in times of crisis. In their work, Israel is redefined as a mythical and post-apocalyptic world, which feminine and differently-abled bodies must ritually traverse through extreme physical acts. Both the ritual of processing the Israel Trail and counting the Omer become ungendered and labor-intensive sites of communication between bodies, land, machines, and the movement of time itself. In creating these spectacles and invented worlds, the artists’ combined interests in cinematography, live-action performance, group dynamics and mechanical inventions are all at play.


WEDNESDAY, APRIL 10, 2019, 7:00 PM


This is event is part of the HBI Project on Latin American Jewish & Gender Studies. Ruth Behar, a Cuban-Jewish anthropologist and the first Latina MacArthur Fellow, shows how culture is both an artifact of history and a vehicle of ongoing memory. Join us for a reading of her latest book of poetry, Everything I Kept/Todo lo que Guardé, discussed in combination with excerpts from her award-winning novel Lucky Broken Girldocumentary film Adio Kerida, and photojournalism in An Island Called Home: Returning to Jewish Cuba
Co-sponsors:  Brandeis Alumni Association, the Brandeis International Business School, & Latin American & Latino Studies Program


Reading God and Torah from a Transgender Perspective: The Soul of the Stranger

Thursday, February 7th, 2019 from 5:00-7:00pm

Brandeis University, Usdan International Lounge

This event is a part of 'Deis Impact.

Joy Ladin, the first openly transgender professor in an Orthodox institution, will read from her new book, "The Soul of the Stranger: Reading God and Torah From a Transgender Perspective" (Brandeis University Press/HBI Series on Jewish Women). Ladin will discuss the need for this trans perspective, as well as her process and journey. She is a professor of English at Stern College/Yeshiva University. 

Co-Sponsors: Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Jewish Feminist Association of Brandeis, Keshet, Ruach HaYam, Jewish Women's Archive

Fall 2018 LAJGS Launch Event:

A Latin American Pen, A Global Memory: Imagining Anne Frank Today

Nov. 1, 2018, 7:30 p.m.
Riemer-Goldstein Theater JCC Greater Boston 333 Nahanton St. Newton, MA 

The Fall 2018 launch event featured a dramatic reading of Marjorie Agosín's illustrated book Anne: Imagining the Diary of Anne Frank, which was accompanied by a multimedia presentation and a panel discussion about the ongoing relevance of Anne Frank in Latin America, a region that has struggled with authoritarian regimes and ongoing human rights abuses. 


  • Dalia Wassner, Ph.D.- HBI Project in Latin American Jewish & Gender Studies, Brandeis University
  • Marjorie Agosín, PhD.-Professor of Spanish at Wellesley College
  • Francisca Yáñez- Chilean illustrator, graphic designer and visual artist
  • Nisha Sajnani, Ph.D.- Director of Drama Therapy Program at New York University.
  • Sandra Mayo- Printmaker and mixed media artist.

The event was co-sponsored by JCC Greater Boston, Facing History & Ourselves, Hadassah Boston, Jewish Women's Archive, Gann Academy, and Temple Beth Zion.

Israel's Photoshop Law: The Idea, The Execution, and The Effect

HBI was proud to host Dr. Rachel Adatto, Former Member of Israeli Knesset. Adatto, an international expert on women's health, spearheaded the Photoshop law in Knesset. This law banned the use of Photoshop to “remake” the images of models in advertising without disclaimers in Israel. There was a panel discussion about the effects of this law including Lisa Fishbayn Joffe, director of the HBI and Shayna Weiss, associate director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies.

About Rachel Adatto

Rachel Adatto, Ph.D., is a former Member of the Knesset (Israeli Parliament), with an undergraduate degree in law, an M.B.A. and M.D. from Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is an expert in women's health and served as the Chair of the National Council for Women's Health; the senior advisor to the Minister of Health on women's issues and on four U.N. committees dealing with women's health. 

Notably, she was the lead sponsor of the 2012 "Photoshop Law" that banned ads featuring underweight models. About the law, Adatto said, “Extremely thin models have become the ideal in the advertising world, which surrounds us all day long and tells us what to buy and what to do. They can no longer serve as role models for innocent youth that adopt and copy the illusion of thinness.” (

 Sexual Harassment: The Law, The Politics and The Movement

Sunday, October 14, 2018, 4:00 PM

HBI was proud to host Catharine A. MacKinnon, the Elizabeth A. Long Professor of Law at the University of Michigan and James Barr Ames Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School for our annual Diane Markowicz Lecture on Gender and Human Rights, October 14, 2018. Her lecture is titled,  “Sexual Harassment: The Law, The Politics, and The Movement.”

Long before the #MeToo movement, Professor MacKinnon pioneered the legal claim for sexual harassment and, with Andrea Dworkin, created ordinances recognizing pornography as a civil rights violation and proposed the Swedish model for abolishing prostitution. The Supreme Court of Canada has largely accepted her approaches to equality, pornography, and hate speech, which have been influential internationally as well.

Author of 13 scholarly books, Professor MacKinnon practices law, consults nationally and internationally on legislation, litigation, and activism, and works regularly with the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW), and The ERA Coalition. Serving as the first Special Gender Adviser to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (The Hague) from 2008 to 2012, she helped implement her concept “gender crime.” In 2014, she was awarded the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lifetime Achievement Award by the Women’s Section of the American Association of Law Schools, and is an elected member of the American Law Institute (ALI).

The Markowicz Lecture Series is part of HBI’s project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law and was created by GCRL Founder Sylvia Neil and her husband Dan Fischel in memory of Sylvia’s late sister, Diane Markowicz, to honor her commitment to gender equality and social justice.

Watch this lecture here.

 Herstories: Changing Portrayals of Women in Jewish Literature

Painting by Sylvia Barack Fishman

Wednesdays, 7:30-9:30 PM
Class begins October 3
Liberman-Miller Lecture Hall
(No Class Oct. 10 or Nov. 21)

HBI presents a Me’ah Course taught by Professor Sylvia Barack Fishman.

Women and gender are spotlighted in Jewish literature from gripping biblical narratives through the latest exciting novels by American Jewish writers. This 10-week course examines texts in which women play major roles, exploring various subtexts, literary dimensions, and historical context. After an introductory conversation about stories in Genesis and the Book of Ruth, this interactive class will read and discuss works including:

Yiddish writers Sholom Aleichem and I.B. Singer (in translation) Immigration authors Abraham Cahan and Anzia Yezierska

Classics of American Jewish women's writing such as Tillie Olsen, Grace Paley, Cynthia Ozick, and Rebecca Goldstein

A selection of works by younger writers such as Allegra Goodman, Dara Horn, Nathan Englander, and Nicole Krauss

 HBI Hosts Tamar Paley Exhibit

March - June, 2018
A Fringe of Her Own: A Collection of Ritual Objects for Women

The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute is proud to present Israeli artist Tamar Paley. In “A Fringe of Her Own,” Paley's collection of handmade Jewish ritual objects deconstructs and reinterprets the tallit, tzitzit, and tefillin, typically worn by men. Traditionally, the tzitzit or fringes hold special significance as a reminder of one’s spiritual obligations. In Paley’s collection of wearable objects, the fringes become a delicate sculptural form. The exhibition will be installed in the Kniznick Gallery at the Women’s Studies Research Center from March - June, 2018.

Recognizing the gap that exists between Jewish women and ritual objects and with a growing need to provide a feminine interpretation of patriarchal religious practice, Paley’s work offers a reshaping of traditional patriarchal forms from a female perspective using materials, text, and symbolism that acknowledge the physical and spiritual experiences of women in Judaism.


Jewish Radical Feminism: Voices from the Women's Liberation Movement

Thursday, May 10, 2018
12:30 PM - 2:00 PM
Liberman-Miller Lecture Hall
Joyce Antler

Joyce Antler, Samuel Lane Professor of American Jewish History and Culture Emerita, and Professor Emerita of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Brandeis, uncovers the hidden history of Jewish women’s pioneering contributions to the women’s liberation movement, placing Jewish women’s activism at the center of feminist and Jewish narratives.

Cosponsored by the Women's Studies Research Center.

Lecture by National Jewish Book Award Winner Francine Klagsbrun

Thursday, April 26, 2018

4:30 - 6:00 PM
Mandel Reading Room

Francine Klagsbrun

The Schusterman Center for Israel Studies and the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute host Francine Klagsbrun, author ofLioness: Golda Meir and the Nation of Israel, winner of the 2017 National Jewish Book Award/Everett Family Foundation Book of the Year.

Francine Klagsbrun is the author of more than a dozen books, including the award-winning Lioness, The Fourth Commandment: Remember the Sabbath Day and Married People: Staying Together in the Age of Divorce. Klagsbrun was also the editor of the best-selling Free to Be . . . You and Me and is a regular columnist for The Jewish Week, a contributing editor to Lilith, and on the editorial board of Hadassah Magazine. Her writing has also appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Newsweek, and Ms. Magazine. She lives in New York City.

Diane Markowicz Memorial Lecture: “Iran's Unfinished Revolution - What Began in 1979 Continues Today”

Lisa Fishbayn Joffe

We look at modern Iran through the eyes of HBI Scholar-in-Residence Roya Hakakian, a widely published author, poet, journalist and documentary filmmaker. She will describe the journey of her own prominent Iranian Jewish family, who at first thought Khomeini’s revolution would be liberating, but soon realized the danger and ultimately fled Tehran, seeking asylum in Vienna.

Today, Hakakian is outspoken on current issues in the Middle East, most recently commenting on the uprisings in Iran and the actions of Iranian feminist women. Learn more about her views on contemporary Iran through her work in the Boston Globe, Reuters and The New York Times.

Tuesday, February 27, 7 p.m.
Napoli Room
Gosman Athletic Center
Brandeis University

The Diane Markowicz Memorial Lecture on Gender and Human Rights is generously funded by a gift from the Dan Fischel and Sylvia Neil Philanthropic Fund.

JOFA Webinar: What Do Modern Orthodox Jews Really Think?

HBI Co-Director Professor Sylvia Barack Fishman will introduce and moderate a discussion with researcher Dr. Mark Trencher, author of the new NISHMAH (2017) Profile of American Modern Orthodox Jews, survey research sponsored by the Micah Foundation. The webinar will highlight areas of fluidity, change, and tension within Modern Orthodox communities, as contemporary parents grapple with liberal and traditional guidelines. Among other findings, the Nishmah survey spotlights sweeping liberalization among Modern Orthodox Jews in attitudes toward expanding women’s roles in public Judaism, including the synagogue.

Wednesday January 31, 7:30 p.m.
View the Webinar

Birthrate Politics in Zion: Judaism, Nationalism and Modernity under the British Mandate

Birthrate Politics in Zion

Lilach Rosenberg discusses her new book, Birthrate Politics in Zion: Judaism, Nationalism and Modernity under the British Mandate. Between 1920 and 1948, despite both cultural traditions and the political need to increase the Jewish population of British Mandate Palestine, birthrates actually declined steadily. Rosenberg's research uncovers the complex reasons behind this surprising demographic shift, revealing a more nuanced picture of the Jewish community in this important period of Israeli history.

Tuesday January 30, 12 - 1 p.m.
Mandel Center for the Humanities Reading Room, 3rd Floor
Brandeis University

A free kosher lunch will be provided. RSVP by Thursday, January 18 to


Podcast Recording: “The Joy of Text”

A live recording of the podcast “The Joy of Text” on choosing not to have children and on single-parenting by choice. The Joy of Text is a monthly podcast created by JOFA, the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, about Judaism, sexuality, and the intersection of the two. Co-hosted by Rabbi Dov Linzer and Dr. Bat Sheva Marcus and moderated by Ramie Smith, this podcast features in-depth conversations by rabbinic and medical experts about subjects ranging from mikveh and modesty to hook-up culture and consent. Each episode also includes answers to questions from listeners. This event is co-sponsored by HBI, BOO, JFAB, and Brandeis Hillel.

Sunday, January 21, 5 p.m.
Mandel Center, Room G03
Brandeis University

German-Jewish Food, Memoir and History: A Talk by Mother-Daughter


Wed., Sept. 13, 2017, 7 p.m.
Brandeis University Epstein/Women's Studies Research Center
Liberman-Miller Lecture Hall
515 South St., Waltham

Reception with special items from the cookbook, other light hors d'oeuvres.
Books for sale.
RSVP recommended to

The National Center for Jewish Film Festival: May 4-21, 2017

HBI sponsors film, "Fanny's Journey," at the National Center for Jewish Film Festival. Shula Reinharz, HBI founding director, will lead a Q&A on May 11, following the film screening. 

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Anat Granit-Hacohen's Book Launch

March 30, 2017

Dr. Granit-Hacohen spoke abouut her recent publication, Hebrew Women Join the Goices: Jewish Women from Palestine in the British Forces During the Second World War. 

During the Second World War, some 3,600 Jewish women from Palestine volunteered to serve in the British armed forces in the Middle East. The recruitment of women was in defiance of all conventional male thought. Not least because these women were joining the British Army – a foreign and colonial army – and this created a unique situation that cast gender and nationalist issues in a new light. This book is the first to tackle these new perspectives. 

Watch her presentation at a recent HBI Lunchtime Seminar.

Conversations with Extraordinary Women

Marcia Falk

Marcia Falk, author of The Book of Blessings: New Jewish Prayers for Daily Life, The Sabbath, and the New Moom Festival (CCAR) and The Days Between: Blessings, Poems, and Directions of the Heart for the Jewish High Holiday Season (HBI Series on Jewish Women) speaks to HBI Director Lisa Fishbayn Joffe.

Tune in to hear the conversation. 

Co-sponsored with The Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program

Watch our Facebook Live video of Spiritual Sisters: A Poetry Reading by Lesléa Newman and Joy Ladin

Joy Ladin and Leslea Newman

Watch our Facebook Live Video of the German-Jewish Cookbook launch event!

German-Jewish Cookbook

Click here to purchase a book.

Tribute Video for Shula Reinharz's Retirement

On June 30, 2017, Shula Reinharz, HBI founding director, retired. Watch her tribute video. 

HBI Hosted Helène Aylon Exhibit

March 20, 2017 - June 16, 2017

The HBI hosted Helène Aylon during the 2017 spring semester.  This groundbreaking, Jewish, feminist artist has created an installation in the Kniznick Gallery of the Women's Studies Research Center at Brandeis University as part of the year-long celebration of HBI's founding director, Shulamit Reinharz, who will retire at the end of June 2017.

Afterword: For the Children
Access online catalogue.

Helene Aylon

Internationally-acclaimed Jewish feminist artist Helène Aylon presented her conclusion to The G-d Project: Nine Houses Without Women, her 20-year series highlighting the dismissal of women in Jewish traditions and text. In Afterword: For the Children, Aylon dedicated her finale in the series to the future generations, challenging all who regard The Ten Commandments not to shrug off a dark foreboding which emanates in her view, from the patriarchy - not from God.  

The text of the Second Commandment holds future generations responsible for the sins of their fathers. The artist’s examination of this text revealed a universal dilemma through its connection to contemporary policies and practices that shape the world our children will inherit. The concept of “Tikkun Olam” (correction of the world) holds significance in Aylon’s immersive digital installation, as her continuous attempt at “repairing” the revered text becomes​ a​ quiet yet assertive protest.

Aylon's exhibition "Afterword: For the Children" will travel to the Jerusalem Biennale 2017, opening on October 1, 2017.

An HBI Conversations Event: Rising to the Top

Conversations with Jewish Women in the Culinary Arts

April 27, 2017

Honoring Shulamit Reinharz, HBI founding director, the event featured Joan Nathan, Award-winning Cookbook Author, Rachel Miller Munzer and Rachel Sundet, co-owners of Mamelah's Delicatessen, and Laura Trust, owner and President of Finagle A Bagel.

Finangle A Bagel Bakery & Cafe + Test Kitchen
77 Rowe Street
Newton, MA

To see photos, visit HBI's Facebook page and album. 

A Coffeehouse Book Launch

A Season Of Singing: Creating Feminist Jewish Music in the United States by Sarah M. Ross

April 4, 2017

Chum’s Coffeehouse
Brandeis University (in the castle)
415 South St., Waltham

Bringing together scholarship on Jewish liturgy, U.S. history, and musical ethnology to describe the multiple roots and development of feminist Jewish music in the last quarter of the twentieth century, Ross illuminates the biographies and oeuvres of innovators in the field, and shows how this new musical form arose from the rich contexts of feminism, identity politics, folk music, and Judaism.

HBI and JFAB (Jewish Feminist Association of Brandeis) hosted a coffeehouse to celebrate Judaism, feminism, music, and Jewish feminist music, featuring performances from Brandeis student groups. 

Acclaimed cartoonist, Amy Kurzweil to Visit HBI

April 5, 2017

The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute invited students for a special opportunity to enjoy a free lunch discussion with Amy Kurzweil, acclaimed cartoonist, artist, teacher and author of the new graphic memoir, Flying Couch.

Kurzweil’s new book tells the story of three generations of women: her own coming-of-age story as a young Jewish artist; her mother, a psychologist, and her Bubbe, a World War II survivor who escaped the Warsaw Ghetto by disguising herself as a Gentile.

The event was limited to 25 students and took place in the Liberman-Miller Lecture Hall within the Women's Studies Research Center. Three signed books were raffled.

GCRL Lunchtime Seminar

April 3, 2017 

As part of the HBI's Spring Seminar, Female Interpreters of Religious Law: Women's Leadership as Clergy, Educators, Advisers and Judges, HBI and Brandeis University's Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies (NEJS) welcomed Mona Hassan, Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies & History in the departments of Religious Studies and History and the program of International Comparative Studies at Duke University. Hassan discussed Formative Female Articulation of Islamic Law.  

Women as Agents of Change? Fresh Perspectives on Gender & Religion 

March 29, 2017

At this graduate student seminar, speakers included Brandeis University doctoral candidates April French, Natalie Cornett, Geraldine Gudefin and Michelle Mann, Ph.D. The event was moderated by Lisa Fishbayn Joffe, associate director of HBI, and co-sponsored by HBI and the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life. 

Helène Aylon Opening Events

March 21, 2017 

Artist's talk: 5:00 pm
Reception: 6:00-8:00 pm
Performance by Helene Aylon: 7:00 pm

Afterword: For the Children
Monday, March 20, 2017 - Friday, June 16, 2017

Helene Aylon

Internationally-acclaimed Jewish feminist artist Helène Aylon presents her conclusion to The G-d Project: Nine Houses Without Women, her 20-year series highlighting the dismissal of women in Jewish traditions and text. In Afterword: For the Children, Aylon dedicates her finale in the series to the future generations, challenging all who regard The Ten Commandments not to shrug off a dark foreboding which emanates in her view, from the patriarchy - not from God.  

The text of the Second Commandment holds future generations responsible for the sins of their fathers. The artist’s examination of this text reveals a universal dilemma through its connection to contemporary policies and practices that shape the world our children will inherit. The concept of “Tikkun Olam” (correction of the world) holds significance in Aylon’s immersive digital installation, as her continuous attempt at “repairing” the revered text becomes​ a​ quiet yet assertive protest.

GCRL Lunchtime Seminar

March 15, 2017 

As part of the HBI's Spring Seminar, Female Interpreters of Religious Law: Women's Leadership as Clergy, Educators, Advisers and Judges, Gail Labovitz, HBI Scholar-in-Residence, spoke on her paper, With Righteousness and Justice: Creating a Connection Between Equitable Marriage and Equitable Divorce in Jewish Law.  
How Jews marry and divorce are integrally connected: marriage based on structural inequities yields inequitable divorce procedures, and a key means to achieve equitable divorce is to begin with equitable marriage. Could Jewish law provide for, or at least accommodate, alternative means of marriage and divorce? And if so, what other options might we find within the traditional legal sources by which to structure an egalitarian marital commitment between two persons and a concomitant procedure for undoing such a commitment.

GCRL Lunchtime Seminar

February 27, 2017 

As part of the HBI's Spring Seminar, Female Interpreters of Religious Law: Women's Leadership as Clergy, Educators, Advisers and Judges, Hikmet Kocamaner, HBI Scholar-in-Residence, spoke on Governing the Family Through Religion: Secularism, Religious Expertise, and the Politics of the Family in the New Turkey.

Since the ruling Muslim-conservative government came to power in 2002, Turkey has witnessed an explosion of political discourses, government policies, and faith-based initiatives aimed at  "strengthening the family" and protecting so-called "family values." Kocamaner's lecture explored the family counseling services provided by a government-run faith-based initiative: Family Guidance and Religious Counseling Bureaus that operate under the Directorate of Religious Affairs. 

Domestic Abuse & Jewish: The Interplay Between Social Justice and the Jewish Divorce Process 

February 2, 2017

HBI partnered with ORA and J-FAB in a panel that discussed the plight of agunot and the halachic prenup. Panelists included Rabbi Jeremy Stern Director of ORA, Rabbi Aryeh Klapper of the Boston Beit Din and Boston Agunah Taskforce,  Elizabeth Schön Vainer the Outreach and Program Director from Journey to Safety, at Boston's Jewish Family and Children's Service, and Rachel Light, a former agunah. The event was moderated by HBI's Lisa Fishbayn Joffe

Watch event in its entirety. Note: The stream will pause during Rachel Light's commentary, which we were not permitted to record, but will resume. 

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Defying Expectations: Chess Grandmaster Susan Polgar

February 1, 2017

Chess is one of the world's oldest games and is played in almost every culture. In spite of its far reach, it remains incredibly gender exclusive. On February 1, 2017, HBI and Brandeis University's Chess Club hosted Grandmaster Susan Polgar, one of the strongest chess players of the past 50 years and the first woman to earn the Grandmaster title through tournament play. She spoke about gender barriers in chess and her educational efforts with young girls. Polgar played, simultaneously, against five members of the audience and take questions. 

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In case you missed the event on January 30, 2017, you can watch it in its entirety below:

GCRL Lunchtime Seminar

December 12, 2016 

Geraldine Gudefin, Helen Gartner Hammer Scholar-in-Residence, spoke on Jewish Family Life in the Age of Mass Migration: A Comparative Case Study of France and the United States

Gudefin presented a comparative overview of the impact of mass immigration on Jewish family life in the early-twentieth century. Her lecture will discuss various aspects of the disruptions of Jewish family life (including desertion and bigamy), and showed the repeated attempts, on the part of the American and French Jewish communal institutions, to end the practice of clandestine marriages and divorces. 

GCRL Lunchtime Seminar

December 5, 2016 

Riki Shapira-Rosenberg, Helen Gartner Hammer Scholar-in-Residence, spoke on Legal Claims and Social Change: The Case of Sexual Harassment in Israel

Shapira-Rosenberg presented regulation introduced in Israel following the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Law. Her lecture discussed the different cultural features that form the foundation of these regulations and seek to show that they are not always compatible with the goals of the law, raising serious questions about their capacity to promote social change.

GCRL Lunchtime Seminar

November 21, 2016 

Avishalom Westreich, Helen Gartner Hammer Scholar-in-Residence, spoke on Changing Motherhood Paradigms: Jewish Law, Civil Law and Society

Westreich argued that within Jewish law, we are witnessing a fascinating process, a conceptual paradigmatic change from a substantive approach to parenthood to a functionalist one. He further noted that the conceptual change connects to the practical interaction between law, religion and society. It facilitates greater flexibility in Jewish law's response to the practical needs of society, going to the very heart of the concept of motherhood in cases of assisted reproductive technologies.

Women, Jewish Law and Legal Change in Israel

November 17, 2016

A panel discussion with three of our Helen Gartner Hammer Scholars-in-Residence. Professor Avishalom Westreich (College of Law and Business, Ramat Gan) spoke on important cases involving agunot in the rabbinical courts. Attorney and Israeli feminist Orthodox activist, Riki Shapira-Rosenberg, discussed cases involving litigation in the civil courts to restore women's rights to equal access to the public sphere. Professor Ronit Irshai (Bar-Ilan University) proposed a theoretical model to account for how and why this legal change is happening in Israel.

The event was moderated by HBI's associate director, Lisa Fishbayn Joffe, Ph.D.

GCRL Lunchtime Seminar

November 14, 2016

Ronit Irshai, Helen Gartner Hammer Scholar-in-Residence, spoke on Essentialism and Homosexuality in Contemporary Jewish Law. The Torah explicitly prohibits homosexuality. Yet, Irshai identified a number of key areas in the evolution of halakhic attitude toward homosexuals in Orthodoxy, raising the question of how the rabbis understand masculinity through the prism of homosexuality.
In this lecture, Irshai analyzed some central writings in contemporary Jewish Ultra-Orthodoxy and tried to trace the ways through which masculinity is being built and its gender implications. 

The Boston Jewish Film Festival

Screening of “Sand Storm” at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

November 12, 2016

A screening of “Sand Storm,” at the MFA, with an introduction by HBI associate director, Lisa Fishbayn Joffe, Ph.D. For more information about “Sand Storm,” visit

"Votes for Women": The History of Equal Suffrage in Israel and America  

October 30, 2016

Professor Margalit Shilo will read an excerpt from her new book, Girls of Liberty: The Struggle for Suffrage in Mandatory PalestineDiscussants were Professor Melissa R. Klapper, author of Babies, Ballots and Banners of Peace: Jewish
Women's Activism 1890 -1940 and Riki Shapira-Rosenberg, Israeli feminist attorney and HBI Helen Gartner Hammer Scholar-in-residence, who works on national cases concerning gender, religion and the state in Israel. The event was moderated by HBI Associate Director, Lisa Fishbayn Joffe, Ph.D.

GCRL Lunchtime Seminar

October 20, 2016

HBI and co-sponsor, Schusterman Center for Israel Studies, welcomed Professor Orna Sasson-Levy, Department of Sociology and Anthropology Chair at Bar Ilan University, to speak on Israeli Women Soldiers and Citizenship: Gendered Encounters with the State. Sasson-Levy's publications include Points of Reference: Changing Identities and Social Positioning in Israeli Society and Identities in Uniform: Masculinities and Femininities in the Israeli Military, Jerusalem.

The Place of the Jewish Woman in Zeev Jawitz' Writings 

August 31, 2016

Asaf Yedidya's, Helen Gartner Hammer Scholar-in-Residence, lecture focused on the place of the Jewish woman in Jawitz' thoughts in comparison to some of the other contemporary Orthodox thinkers. Jawitz was the first religious Zionist leader and thinker to deal seriously with the place of the Jewish woman in modern society.

Spring Seminar Scholars-in-residence Final Presentations

May 3, 2016

Kathryn Hellerstein, Scholar-in-residence
Scholarly presentation: "Jewish American Women Poets: Anthologists and Translators (1966-1999)"
Creative presentation: Hellerstein read a selection of her translations from her forthcoming collection, Anthology of Women Yiddish Poets and a few of her original poems.

Lori Harrison-Kahan, Scholar-in-residence
Scholarly presentation: "Frontier Feminism: Miriam Michelson and the Multi-Ethnic West"
Creative presentation: Harrison-Kahan read short prose excerpts from the collection she is editing, titled The Superwoman and Other Writings: Fiction and Journalism by Miriam Michelson.

Chantal Ringuet, Scholar-in-residence
Scholarly presentation: "Coming to Terms With America: Yiddish Women Writers Exchange Letters (1948-1972)"
Creative presentation: Ringuet read poems by Chava Rosenfarb (translated to English) and Miriam Waddington.

Kuku Sabzi: A Symbolic Food for the Persian New Year

April 17, 2016

An HBI Artist-in-Residence/Brandeis Festival of the Arts workshop event with AIR, Wendy Wolf Fine.

The Dead Man: Jewish Feminist Novel about Love, Loss, Creativity, Sexism, and Music

April 12, 2016

Author, Nora Gold, presented her newest book, The Dead Man (2016), a compelling story about an obsessed woman. Eve, who is both a composer of Jewish sacred music and a music therapist, cannot recover from a brief relationship she once had with a music critic named Jake. Dr. Gold discussed some of the central themes in this novel and illustrated them with selected readings from The Dead Man.

Shifts in Power and the Future of the Women's Movement in the Middle East

April 11, 2016

An HBI Artist-in-residence lecture by guest speaker, Zohreh Mizrahi.

The Pearl that Slipped Its Shell

April 5, 2016

Opening Reception for Artist-in-Residence Wendy Wolfe Fine's exhibit, The Pearl that Slipped Its Shell. Relaying the loss of personal freedoms and cultural lives of Iranian Jewish women after the Revolution, the exhibit incorporated video, photography and cultural objects.

Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Women's Struggles Against Fundamentalism in Muslim Majority Contexts

April 3, 2016

Diane Markowicz Memorial Lecture by Karima Bennoune, Professor of International Law at the University of California - Davis, School of Law. 

Goodman, Familial and Communal Conflict, Compassion, and Betrayal in a Summer World

March 29, 2016

Allegra Goodman, author of Kaaterskill Falls: Familial and Communal Conflict, Compassion, and Betrayal in a Summer World discussed her prize-winning book with Brandeis students and HBI scholars.

Artist Talk: Artist-in-Residence Wendy Wolfe Fine

March 23, 2016

Artist-in-residence Wendy Wolfe Fine spoke at the HBI about her exhibit, the Pearl that Slipped Its Shell.

Love, Marriage, and Jewish Families: Paradoxes of a Social Revolution

March 20, 2016

A panel discussion to launch the publication of Love, Marriage, and Jewish Families: Paradoxes of a Social Revolution, edited by Sylvia Barack Fishman. Prof. Sylvia Barack Fishman introduced panelist Dr. Lisa Fishbayn JoffeDr. Jonathan KrasnerMichelle ShainRachel S. Bernstein, and Daniel Parmer

Beaded "History" Curtain Workshop 

March 16, 2016

A public event with Artist-in-residence, Wendy Wolfe Fine, beading the "History" curtain for The Pearl that Slipped Its Shell exhibit. 

Spring Seminar Scholar-in-Residence Lecture

March 8, 2016

Chantal Ringuet, Scholar-in-residence, presented On the Other Side of Poetry: Rachel Korn and Kadia Molodowsky, two Yiddish Women Writers in North America. The 2016 Spring Seminar: North American Jewish Women's Writing of Fiction, Memoir and Poetry featured a series of talks from international scholars and authors. 

Spring Seminar Scholar-in-Residence Lecture

February 23, 2016

Kathryn Hellerstein, Scholar-in-residence presented What is it to be a Jewish Woman Poet? Women Poets as Jewish Translators. The 2016 Spring Seminar: North American Jewish Women's Writing of Fiction, Memoir and Poetry featured a series of talks from international scholars and authors. 

Spring Seminar Scholar-in-Residence Lecture

February 9, 2016

Lori Harrison-Kahan, Scholar-in-residence presented The Intermarriage Plot: Emma Wolf, Bettie Lowenberg, and the Deghettoization of American Jewish Fiction. The 2016 Spring Seminar: North American Jewish Women's Writing of Fiction, Memoir and Poetry featured a series of talks from international scholars and authors. 

International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2016: Six Responses

January 27, 2016

Led by WSRC Scholars Ornit Barkai, Karen Frostig, Jutta Lindert, Rachel MunnKarin Rosenthal, and Shulamit Reinharz, WSRC Founding Director. These six members of the WSRC’s Holocaust Research Study Group presented their views about the Holocaust, locating their ideas in relation to the history of the Holocaust through the creation of poetry, history, public art, film, photography and biography.

Spring Seminar Lecture

January 26, 2016

Golan Moskowitz presented Surviving a Queer Boyhood: Gendered Explorations of Post-Holocaust Subjectivity in Maurice Sendak and Beyond. The 2016 Spring Seminar: North American Jewish Women's Writing of Fiction, Memoir and Poetry featured a series of talks from international scholars and authors. Moskowitz, a doctoral student in Near Eastern & Judaic Studies at Brandeis, is assistant to the executive director at the Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry. He is a past winner of the HBI Student Research Award.