Should Religious Symbols Be Part of the BRCA Discussion?

By Ranana Dine

When I began teaching Hebrew school this past year, I never imagined the experience would inspire a major research project. Each week, I would arrive at the small synagogue and try to get 11-year-olds to think that the Hebrew language was cool by playing them music by Idan Raichel (alas, they seemed to prefer American rap music). While this experience was interesting and challenging on its own, it didn’t quite inspire my academic imagination like my school readings on feminist Biblical scholarship or American landscape painting. But as I returned each week to teach about the letter yud or play hide and seek with Hebrew vowels, I could not help but occasionally find myself in the women’s restroom. And there inspiration struck.

Basser_Jewish_Initiative_Poster

Basser Research Center for BRCA

Like many synagogues, this one hung posters of Jewish interest in the hallways and occasionally in the bathroom. In the women’s restroom someone had put up a poster advertising screening for BRCA, a genetic mutation that raises a woman’s risk of getting breast and/or ovarian cancer. This mutation is more common among Ashkenazi Jews than among other populations. The poster in bold letters declared “Breast and Ovarian Cancer. Jewish Families Can Be At Increased Risk. Knowing Saves Lives.” But what caught my eye was the image paired with this message– the ubiquitous breast cancer ribbon filled with pink Jewish stars. It’s a strong image that sends a lot of interesting messages at once: the fear of cancer, the breast cancer support movement, Jewish identity. As someone who is interested in the intersection of religion, art and medicine, this poster seemed like the two-dimensional embodiment of everything that made my academic heart go pitter patter.

And so embarked my interest in the visualization of the BRCA mutation in Jewish culture. Luckily for me, The New York Times this past November published a long front-page article about breast cancer in Israel where BRCA took central stage. Along with the written text of the article, the Times included many well-crafted photographs and a video. One of the photographs, an image of an Israeli woman’s chest that included incision scars from breast cancer treatment, a Jewish star tattoo and a bit of the woman’s aureole made waves in the Times comments section and on the Internet. But along with the Times article came a slew of images and discussions in the Jewish press and among cancer organizations. Although the poster that originally caught my eye strongly connected a fairly generic Jewishness with breast cancer, I saw a powerful and problematic pattern emerging in these images: the intertwining of religious Judaism and BRCA.

As I researched, I found multiple images or descriptions of religious rituals like candle lighting, b’nei mitzvah celebrations, prayer etc. that linked these religious symbols forcibly to BRCA. I saw a woman who tested positive for BRCA and underwent surgery as she lit candles for a Jewish holiday. I saw a Jewish mother praying for recovery at the tomb of Rachel. Although these images are incredibly powerful, they link together two things that are really not connected. Religious Judaism has nothing to do with BRCA. A woman can test positive for BRCA whether she is Jewish or not. And a Jewish woman can test positive for BRCA even if she has completely rejected Judaism and its religious symbols. The connection between BRCA and Judaism has to do with the fact that for centuries Ashkenazi Jews married within small communities and were isolated from the general population. Last time I checked, having a bat mitzvah did not make a woman particularly predisposed to breast or ovarian cancer.

I also realized that these images depicted the Jewish woman as religious, connected to Judaism. She also often had children and worried about how the mutation might affect them. Sometimes she worried about her marriage prospects. Rarely were women shown worrying about how a positive diagnosis for BRCA might affect her job. I never saw a discussion of what it might be like to live with BRCA without the support of a family.

Jewish genetics is a hot topic. The health of the Jewish people (and honestly, all people) is obviously of the utmost importance. But, I think most people recognize that Jewish health is disconnected from Jewish religious observance. A woman could undergo treatment for cancer or for a host of other “Jewish diseases” whether or not she prays three times a day or her favorite meal is a bacon cheeseburger. The serious medical issues surrounding BRCA could affect all Jewish women (and men). And, I sincerely hope, that my Hebrew school students feel as included in the discussion of BRCA and other Jewish genetic diseases even if they continue to prefer Kanye West to Shlomo Carlebach.

ranana_dineRanana Dine is a summer intern at HBI and a rising junior at Williams College. Her research at HBI concerns the visual symbols used to convey information about the BRCA gene.

Making Camp Memories

by Amy Sessler Powell

As I prepare for Visiting Day at Camp Tevya in Brookline, N.H., I reflected on my camp pickup from last summer.

I retrieved my camper shortly after we published our summer issue of 614: Jewish Camp Flashbacks. While I read the issue and reflected on my own camp experiences, I was fortunate to be able to juxtapose those with my daughter’s formation of her own camp memories.

I could see that she was immersed in the bubble that only summer camp can create, plugging into longtime traditions and experiencing all that would create her own rich experiences to draw on throughout her life.

But first, I doled out the tissues. I arrived to greet red-eyed campers, sleepless from staying up during their last night, teary with the thoughts of waking up the next morning without so many close friends. After the hugs, after the trail of girls grabbing the car as Claire sobbed quietly, she saw from the car window that some of the counselors started to hose off and pack up the dance mats. She doesn’t dance, never has, no matter.

“They’re cleaning up camp!” she cried with a new round of sobs wracking her body.

When she was able to speak again, she said through tears, “I never want it to end and I have only one summer left.”

I was nearly in tears myself at the emotion of it all. This is exactly what parents want, but it still seemed so sad. When we got home, things mentioned in extremely brief letters, received proper illumination.

A letter that read, “I got the Yarden bandana. The boys will tell you what it means,” was explained. Her three older brothers, Tevya alumni themselves, gathered around the dirty Ziplock bag. The frayed, smelly and filthy bandana within was removed and unfolded. The sacred object contained the names of Color War captains since 1993, before any of my children were born. The bag held a dried up piece of paper with names, each new captain adding their own. With it were good luck charms from captains past: a chalk hippo, a small piece of yellow feather boa, golden beads and other items.

My four children marveled at the names, discussed those they recognized. My daughter yearns to add her name to the list this year. The “bandana” is an endorsement of her leadership from last summer’s color war captains, but by no means a sure thing. They don’t make the decision. Even if she garners the top honor, she might get assigned to a different color war team. She was simply the caretaker of this sacred relic for the entire year. Next session, she will pass it to the current Yarden captains who will in turn pass it to new campers in the second oldest age group.

When the bandana was put away, she unpacked a piece of frayed nylon rope. I saw that this too would be important. “I got the waterskiing award!” she shared, symbolized by a piece of old towrope. My son, Jake, a good skier who coveted the award but always skied in the shadow of someone much better, nodded with pride that this frayed rope was in our family at last.

My daughter is dipping into a deep tradition. She respects these objects and the meaning behind them. My sons, who had no use for her state championship youth basketball games or other accomplishments at home, kvell in her participation in this beloved shared community. One son found an excuse to go to camp one year after he had aged out to warm up his sister for a four-square tournament, one for which she had earned a coveted spot.

Camp may be even more important than ever. It is still electronics-free. It is still somewhat of a meritocracy, albeit with multiple ways to succeed. Not everyone makes color war captain or the travel teams. If you don’t care for the athletic events in color war, there is music, art and silliness. Everyone has an equal chance to succeed at feeding Jell-O to a blindfolded teammate.

One year, my daughter put off camp a month to participate in a softball all-star team. I’m not sure it was her best decision, but it’s past. At the time, I remember one dad barging into the coach’s huddle to advocate for his daughter to bat in the leadoff position.

Not possible at camp. There, the kids have to advocate for themselves and they have multiple opportunities to learn how. When there are multiple paths, campers put forth their best selves, aspiring to success, modeling leadership for the younger camp community and take pride in passing on the traditions to a new generation. These are great lessons to take into life after camp. These are the memories she will bring to new experiences.

SONY DSCAmy Sessler Powell is the HBI Communications Director

What Does Hobby Lobby Mean for Jewish Women?

by Lisa Fishbayn Joffe

As a Jewish woman, I was alarmed by two recent decisions of the United States Supreme Court giving employers a right to opt out of insurance coverage for contraception for their employees. Jewish law does not prohibit contraception or abortion. Jewish women who want to be guided by Jewish values in making decisions about their reproductive health may use forms of contraception that may work by preventing the implantation of a fertilized embryo. Some versions of Christianity prohibit this. If I am a Jewish woman working for an employer who holds a different religious view, why should the employer’s moral views take precedence over my own? Why should my employer be entitled to express his disapproval of my choice of contraception, and by extension my religious beliefs, by refusing to cover it in the company insurance plan? What would it feel like to work where Jewish practices are stigmatized in this way?

Two decisions rendered by the Supreme Court last week send a chilling message about the state of women’s equality and the rights of religious minority employees. In the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case, the court found that an employer’s views on the moral acceptability of contraception could justify exempting them from general laws of health care coverage. In Wheaton College v. Burwell, decided a few days later, the Court granted an injunction against a regulation that required a religious organization to fill out a two-page form declaring that they wanted to opt out of providing contraception coverage.

The Affordable Care Act (better known as Obamacare) requires that all large companies provide insurance for their employees. To prevent insurers from providing inadequate policies, the ACA requires that all insurance plans provide for a bare minimum of essential health services. This list of essential services was drawn up on the advice of medical professionals and covers the basic needs of men and women equally. One of the basic needs women have is access to birth control.

In response to protests from churches and religious groups opposed to contraception, the ACA contains an exemption for non-profit organizations devoted to religious purposes. Insurance companies will devise special plans for them in which the insurance company, rather than the employer, is technically providing contraception coverage.

Hobby Lobby is not a church or a religious organization. It is a chain of craft supply stores owned by a corporation that is in turn owned by the Green family. The Greens follow a form of Christianity that prohibits the use of contraceptive drugs that end human life after conception. The Greens believe that certain intra-uterine devices and morning after medications work by preventing implantation of a fertilized ovum. Scientists aren’t sure how it works — it may actually prevent conception, but first amendment law entitles the Greens to toleration of their genuine belief, whether it is accurate or not.

The Greens argued that being forced to provide insurance coverage for these forms of contraception violated their freedom of religion by making them complicit in possible abortions secured by their employees. They asked that the exemption granted to churches be extended to employers like themselves. The Supreme Court granted the Green’s request. The court held that the employer’s religious freedom was implicated by being put to a choice between paying for abortion coverage and paying a fine. The government could meet its objective through less burdensome means, by allowing Hobby Lobby the same workaround as that offered to churches.

There are a lot of disturbing things about these cases:

How can a corporation have a religion?

A corporation is a separate legal entity from those who found it. It protects the assets and liberty of owners from lawsuits by unhappy customers and creditors. If Hobby Lobby sells you a defective glue gun, you can sue the company, but you can’t put a lien on Mr. Green’s house. How can the Greens be allowed to take the benefits of being a corporation when it helps them and reject the arms length nature of corporate identity when it doesn’t?

How does corporate religious belief work?

If there is more than one owner and they have a religious disagreement, what faith does the corporation have? Can a corporation convert?

Is there any limit in the chain of causation between the employer and potential acts of employees that are too attenuated to fall under this clause?

In Hobby Lobby, I count at least four steps in this chain:

  1. Employer offers medical coverage.
  2. Employee selects impugned formed of birth control.
  3. Employee uses it at a time when conception might occur.
  4. Contraception causes failure of embryo to implant.
    In the Wheaton College case, there is an additional step:
  5. Employer signs form opting out of coverage and insurance company provides it coverage.

Will the next case involve an employer who wishes to avoid being implicated by refusing to employ anyone who does not undertake to avoid using these forms of contraception, so they are never put in the position of possibly facilitating abortion? Could an employer refuse to hire someone who did not share his faith in order to be sure she did not use money from her own wages to secure contraception he disapproved of? In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg finds it doubtful that Congress viewed as substantial “ linkage thus interrupted by independent decision-makers (the woman and her health counselor) standing between the challenged government action and the religious exercise claimed to be infringed.”

What does this result mean for Jewish women?

I was surprised to learn that Jewish Orthodox organizations like the Orthodox Union and Agudath Israel had not merely praised the decision but had written an amicus brief to the court urging them to rule this way. How could this be good for the Jews?  In their brief, they state that Jewish law does not recognize a corporation as a separate entity from those who hold shares in it, so that owners are personally morally responsible for the acts of the corporation and will suffer “divine punishment” for violating a religious duty. They admit that Jewish law does not prohibit contraception, so what kind of employer interest in controlling employee autonomy could they be seeking to defend? A reference in their amicus brief is instructive. It points to a recent New York City Commission on Human Rights case against Jewish-owned stores that posted signs denying admission to people who did not follow a dress code intended to impose Orthodox Jewish norms of modesty. The signs, in Hebrew, English and Spanish, read:

ENTRY HERE ONLY IN MODEST DRESS
No Shorts
No Barefoot
No Sleeveless
No Low cut Neckline
ALLOWED IN THIS STORE.

The case was settled out of court with the stores agreeing to change their signs to make clear they are not only addressed to women and non-Orthodox Jews. The Agudath Israel brief argues that religious storeowners should be able to impose their modesty norms on customers regardless of the corporate form their ownership might take. Surely the same courtesy will be accorded to Muslim storeowners who insist staff and patrons wear a headscarf and niqab face veil in order to enter.

The tunnel vision of this approach is breathtaking. The Jews whose religious freedom are to be protected are male, empowered employers, not Jewish women who may have a range of views of appropriate dress. Nor does this view take into account the distinctive health needs and perspectives of Orthodox Jewish women. What about the woman who uses contraception pills in order to regulate her periods so that she can limit blood spotting in order to comply with Jewish laws of family purity? What about the Orthodox Jewish couple who wants to use reproductive technology to comply with the commandment to be fruitful and multiply, but the employer’s religious faith prohibits interfering with nature?

There is a long list of medical procedures that may be permissible under Jewish medical ethics that could be rejected by religious employers. Your employer could also object to:

  • blood transfusions (Jehovah’s Witnesses),
  • anti-depressants (Scientology)
  • immunizations (Christian Science)
  • medications derived from pigs (possibly Jewish and Muslim).
  • medications derived from experimentation on stem cells (Methodism)
  • heart valves derived from pigs (Hindu or Greek Orthodox).

Jewish law and the Jewish community do not speak with a single voice. Those Jewish voices, speaking on behalf of Jewish women, were present in briefs filed by other groups affiliated with the Jewish community in the Hobby Lobby case, if not in the final decision. The American Jewish Committee urged the court to reject the claim because religion could not outweigh the importance of providing equal health care to women. The Jewish Social Policy Action Network urged the court to reject Hobby Lobby’s claim because Jewish ethics place a high value of providing care for the sick. They also pointed out the important role Jewish women have played as activists in the movement to secure rights to contraception and abortion for American women. Jewish women continue to speak out for equality for all women and the right to make moral and religious decisions for themselves, without interference from the state, from their employer or from male dominated groups that want to present a limited conception of Jewish law and values.

 

lisaHBI_0001

Lisa Fishbayn Joffe

Lisa Fishbayn Joffe is director of the HBI Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and Law.

As part of a collaboration between the HBI’s Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law and the School of Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies, supported by the Bridging Voices Program of the British Council, we present a series of invited reflections on the intersection of Gender, Religion and Equality in Public Life from activists and scholars around the world.  Contributors have been asked to reflect upon the ways in which conflicts over gender, religion and participation impact their work and inform their understanding of events in the news.  They are particularly asked to consider how religious norms around gender shape civil policy making, adjudication and women’s capacity to fully participate in public political and ritual life.

Why Gustav Klimt Escaped the Degenerate Art Show

by Laura Morowitz

 

degenerateart

Hulya Kolabas for Neue Galerie New York

There’s someone missing from the fascinating exhibition at the Neue Galerie, Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany.

The exhibit is chock full of Modernist luminaries from the German-speaking world: Oscar Kokoschka, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Otto Dix, Paul Klee, and the radicals of the Bauhaus. But one artist is conspicuously absent. Gustav Klimt, the modernist provocateur responsible for inspiring Austrian expressionism was never labelled “degenerate”. His strange “escape” lays in the way his art—full of metaphysical speculation and reference to the Germanic tradition—appealed to Nazi sensibility. And while his works were never banned or labelled as inferior, they too were imperiled under the Nazis.

Gustav Klimt, Philosophy, 1899-1907

Gustav Klimt, Philosophy, 1899-1907

Klimt’s omission from the Degenerate Art show is strange when one considers that even in his own life-time, Klimt was seen as a radical and morally questionable artist. His deeply pessimistic and disturbing paintings created for the University of Vienna caused a scandal. His brazen nudes, with their lurid gazes, swimming in primeval fluids, offended almost everyone. He took both the young Kokoschka and Egon Schiele under his wing. But what is even more confounding is that Klimt’s art was deeply associated with the circle of Jewish patrons and artists that lit up fin-de-siècle Vienna. Among the wealthy and cultured Jewish families of the time—the Gallias, the Lederers, the Bloch-Bauers—Klimt was the portraitist of choice.

Klimt died in 1918 at the close of the first World War and thus escaped the fate of exile, ridicule and censor that many of his contemporaries suffered. But how did his art escape all of the Nazi Schandaustellungen (exhibitions of shame) and the widely-used label entartete (degenerate)? Not only was Klimt never condemned as degenerate, but the largest retrospective of his art ever held took place in 1943, under the auspices of the highest ranking Nazi in Vienna. How?

Gustav Klimt, Section from The Beethoven Frieze, 1902

Gustav Klimt, Section from The Beethoven Frieze, 1902

Politics alone seldom saved an artist from attack (Emile Nolde, loyal Nazi party member since the early 1920s, appears in number at the Neue Galerie). We are forced then to ask the question: is there something in Klimt’s art that lent itself well to Nazi appropriation? What is in Klimt’s paintings that might have accorded with Nazi aesthetics and ideology? Raising the question does not imply that Klimt could have known how his art would later be seen: a less political artist can hardly be found, and Klimt enjoyed the friendship and affection of his Jewish associates all his life. Artists are not to blame for the uses to which their creations are put.

Klimt, Knight from Beethoven Frieze, 1902

Klimt, Knight from Beethoven Frieze, 1902

Hubert Lanzinger, The Banner Carrier, 1938

Hubert Lanzinger, The Banner Carrier, 1938

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We need to turn to the art itself, for example, Klimt’s Beethoven Frieze, a mural created for the upper walls of the Secession Building in 1902 (and currently the subject of a lawsuit). Part of a larger multi-media exhibition to celebrate the German composer, the frieze was inspired by Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, played at the opening of the show. The symphony was later performed often at Nazi festivals and rallies for it was Adolf Hitler’s personal favorite, even more beloved than the works of Richard Wagner. Klimt’s frieze hails the triumph of idealism over materialism, an idea often found in Nazi aesthetics. The rescuing knight around whom the frieze revolves can easily be read as a proto-Fuhrer figure, leading his people to a higher realm.

So, too certain mythic or ideological presuppositions prominent in Nazi aesthetics find an early echo in Klimt’s works. His murals for the University of Vienna and his allegorical works are deeply indebted to the German philosophical tradition—Schopenhauer, Nietzsche– that fed the Nazis too. His Nuda Veritas (1899) bears an inscription from Friedrich Schiller, a figure Adolf Hitler deeply admired.

Gustav Klimt, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, 1907 (exhibited as “The Lady in Gold” in 1943)

GUSTAV KLIMT (1862-1918) Adele Bloch-Bauer I, 1907 Oil, silver, and gold on canvas Neue Galerie New York This acquisition made available in part through the generosity of the heirs of the Estates of Ferdinand and Adele Bloch-Bauer

Such works were easy enough for the Nazis to interpret according to their own worldview. And the portraits of Jews? These works were simply stripped of their provenance and the names of their sitters, becoming generic icons of wealth and taste.

If Gustav Klimt’s art escaped the fate of degenerate works, his art nevertheless suffered directly from Nazi appropriation. In a strange twist, it was precisely the value the Nazis accorded these paintings that led to their destruction. In the spring of 1943, when the Nazi war machine began to falter, tens of thousands of works were moved to storage in castles, monasteries and mines in the Austrian countryside, a tale told in George Clooney’s film The Monuments Men. A cache of 13 or 14 Klimt paintings were moved for safekeeping to the Schloss Immendorf in southern Austrian. In early May of 1945 a retreating S.S. unit came across the castle and determined not to let the works within fall into Russian hands. They set fire to the castle, destroying all of the paintings within, including Klimt’s most important early works.

The works of Gustav Klimt escaped the degenerate bonfires, but they did not escape being consigned to the flames.

 

Laura Morowitz is Professor of Art History at Wagner College New York. She is at currently at work on an article examining the 1943 Gustav Klimt retrospective instigated by Nazi Baldur von Schirach. In 2011 she and co-author Laurie Lico Albanese received a Hadassah-Brandeis Institute Research award to help them complete a novel exploring the creation, expropriation and restitution of Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, in the Neue Galerie, New York.

Reflections on the HBI Israel Brunch

By Elana Maryles Sztokman

HBI and Dr. Laura S. Schor, board member and former chair, hosted a reception in Israel on June 9 that brought together scholars, artists, authors and activists, all who have been connected to HBI over the years. Elana Sztokman, HBI author and former scholar-in-residence, wrote about her reflections after attending.

HBI changed my life. That’s not drama; it’s fact. I thought about it last week when Prof. Shulamit Reinharz, Hadassah-Brandeis Institute (HBI) co-director, asked the guests at the 3rd Israeli Gathering of Friends of the HBI to share one thing to which they are thankful to HBI. As I thought about it, I realized – and then shared publicly – that the list of things I have to thank HBI for grows each year.  In fact, I said, HBI support completely altered the trajectory of my life.

Susan Weiss and Ronit Irshai, with Haim Sperber

Susan Weiss and Ronit Irshai, with Haim Sperber

As I waited to share my story, I soon learned that many people in that room had similar and inspiring stories. Each of the presenters offered a creative and vital contribution to our understanding of women’s lives and histories, and each one had benefited from HBI support with research, dissertation support, scholar-in-residence opportunities, artist-in-residence opportunities, translation funding, and of course the publication of books.

My relationship with HBI began in 2006 when I received the Junior Research Award for a study of the identities of Orthodox men. This work grew into my first book, which HBI generously published under the title, The Men’s Section: Orthodox Jewish Men in an Egalitarian World, a title that I love, that Prof. Sylvia Barack Fishman, HBI co-director, helped me formulate. HBI launched the book in 2011 and sent me on a whirlwind book tour in early 2012, thanks to the incredible generosity of former HBI board chair Dr. Laura Schor. This book won the 2012 National Jewish Book Council award in the category, Women’s Studies. Then, HBI published my second book, co-written with my colleague Dr. Chaya Rosenfeld Gorsetman, titled, Educating in the Divine Image: Gender Issues in Orthodox Jewish Day Schools, which went on to win the 2013 JBC award in the category, Education and Identity. This has all been an incredible experience, propelling me into a whole new level of academic and communal engagement via research and writing. I am enormously grateful to HBI and indebted to the organization for sending me on this incredible journey, and for turning me into a writer.

Margalit Shilo and Shulamit Reinharz share a laugh

Margalit Shilo and Shulamit Reinharz share a laugh

We heard from Professor Margalit Shilo, author of many books and known as the “grandmother of Feminist History Studies in Israel,” from Dr. Ronit Irshai, former HBI scholar-in-residence and HBI author studying feminist perspectives on fertility in Jewish law; artist Andi Arnovitz whose engaging work explores gender and religion in Israel. We also heard from Attorney Susan Weiss, whose HBI-published book, co-authored with Netty Gross-Horowitz, Marriage and Divorce in the Jewish State, paints a stark portrait of the agunah situation in Israel from a human rights perspective; Tanya Zion Waldoks who received an HBI Research Award for her dissertation which explores the agunah situation from the perspective of identity struggles of religious feminist activists; Dr. Naomi Marmon Grumet whose groundbreaking work on Jewish women’s attitudes towards ritual immersion (mikveh) formed the basis of crucial educational work with mikveh attendants.

Other people there were involved in vital research sponsored by HBI on topics ranging from abortion and suffrage in mandatory Palestine to gender issues in the Second Intifada. I felt that each person could have spoken for hours about the work that HBI supported and where it led her career, and it would have all been fascinating.

“The women here keep saying that they are lucky, but you need to stop saying that. You’re not lucky. You’re smart and skilled and you’re all making vital scholarly contributions.” Prof. Ephraim Tabory said.

Nevertheless, several women articulated the feeling that being part of HBI, while perhaps not “lucky” is nonetheless a fortuitous event that comes with many extra benefits. “It’s also about the support and encouragement, and the validation that what you’re doing is important and it matters to someone,” Deborah HaCohen said.

In addition to work that is centered in Israel and the United States, we heard from Jewish feminists in Mexico, Canada, the U.K. and France. “A Jewish feminist movement in France? Who knew?” Prof. Reinharz quipped.

The support that HBI offers to burgeoning feminist scholars and activists has an important role in bringing these movements to life, letting women know that they are valued and supported, and that they are part of a larger movement. “We wish we could give away more money,” Dr. Schor added. “We want to be doing even more.”

“When I come to Israel and see all of the wonderful work you’re all doing, I feel like I’m back in the real work of what Women’s Studies is all about,” Prof. Reinharz concluded.

The brunch segued into an important two-day conference at the Yad Ben Zvi Institute titled, “Education for Girls and Processes of Modernization in Jerusalem: 1854-2014”, a conference organized by Dr. Schor and inspired by her newly published HBI book, The Best School in Jerusalem, marking the 160th anniversary of the Evelina de Rothschild School. The conference, which featured wonderful lectures, was also co-sponsored by HBI, and thus marked yet one more way that HBI continues to impact Jewish feminist scholarship around the world.