Past Events

"Flawless" at the Boston Jewish Film Festival

November 16, 2019

HBI proudly sponsored the film, “Flawless” at the Boston Jewish Film Festival on Nov. 9 and Nov. 16. “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.

Lunchtime Seminar: From Orthodox and Feminist to Orthodox Feminist: Kolech, JOFA, and Orthodox Feminist Activism in Israel and the US

November 13, 2019

Lunchtime Seminars: Ketubot as Enforceable Contracts under American Law: The Case of Charleston, South Carolina

November 6, 2019

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

October 23, 2019

The groundbreaking work of Project Kesher and the gift of its archives to Brandeis University was celebrated. Brandeis’s Archives & Special Collections is home to significant holdings on Jewish feminism and the Project Kesher materials are an enriching and important addition to this repository.

Founder Sallie E. Gratch was joined by Project Kesher Ukraine Director Vlada Nedak to link the history to the present work and vision of the future. A panel of academic experts provided historical context and laid out pathways for future researchers using the Project Kesher archival collection now housed at Brandeis.

The Voices That Wouldn't Be Silenced

October 2, 2019

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,” revealed how the cries of these women prompted her to expose a shameful chapter in Jewish history. She discussed actions that can be taken today to abolish human enslavement.

Lunchtime Seminar: Gender and Ethnicity in Mizrahi Feminist Contemporary Photography

September 25, 2019

Sivan Rajuan Shtang

Lunchtime Seminar: Women’s Midrash on Alternative Families

September 11, 2019

Tamar Biala

Knocking at Our Hearts

September 8, 2019

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

One Foot Planted

February 28–June 28, 2019

Hadassah-Brandeis Institute presented Ayelet Carmi and Meirav Heiman in “One Foot Planted.” Israeli artists Carmi and Heiman created ambitious video works that explored 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 were all at play.

Words and Artifacts: Treasures of a Cuban Jewish Exile

April 10, 2019

This is event was part of the HBI Project on Latin American Jewish & Gender Studies. Ruth Behar, a Cuban-Jewish anthropologist and the first Latina MacArthur Fellow, showed how culture is both an artifact of history and a vehicle of ongoing memory. Included was 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 Girl,” documentary film Adio Kerida, and photojournalism in “An Island Called Home: Returning to Jewish Cuba.”

Co-sponsored by Brandeis Alumni Association, the Brandeis International Business School, & Latin American & Latino Studies Program. This event was a part of the Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Creative Arts Program.

Reading God and Torah from a Transgender Perspective: A Talk with Joy Ladin

February 7, 2019

Joy Ladin, the first openly transgender professor in an Orthodox institution, 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 discussed the need for this trans perspective, as well as her process and journey. She is a professor of English at Stern College/Yeshiva University.

This event was a part of ’Deis Impact.

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

Herstories: Changing Portrayals of Women in Jewish Literature

October 3–December 19, 2018

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

Women and gender were spotlighted in Jewish literature from gripping biblical narratives through the latest exciting novels by American Jewish writers. This 10-week course examined 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 read and discussed 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

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

November 1, 2018

The Fall 2018 LAJGS 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.

Panelists

  • Dalia Wassner, PhD, 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, PhD, Director of Drama Therapy Program at New York University.

  • Sandra Mayo, Printmaker and mixed media artist.

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

October 25, 2018

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 HBI and Shayna Weiss, associate director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies.

Rachel Adatto, PhD, is a former Member of the Knesset (Israeli Parliament), with an undergraduate degree in law, an MBA and MD 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

October 14, 2018

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.

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 the Lecture