Encyclopedia of Jewish ladies expands and diversifies – The Ahead

More colored women. More LGBTQ women. More Sephardic and Mizrahi women. More women with disabilities.

The Jewish Women’s Archives published a new edition of its encyclopedia on Thursday, adding 180 new entries to the 2,020 existing ones. The editors hope to introduce readers to a wider variety of Jewish women who have left their mark on history.

(The striker picked five favorites from the new entries. See them below.)

“One of our big goals was to integrate material on groups and topics that were underrepresented in previous versions because there was less scientific knowledge,” said Judith Rosenbaum, CEO of the archive. “So many people from all over the world are using the encyclopedia, and this edition has worked to better understand that global audience.”

Used each year by more than one million readers from more than 230 countries around the world, JWA is widely recognized as the premier source of information on female Jewish historical figures and current leaders. It is also, said Rosenbaum, a source of inspiration.

“You need role models, you need a story where you can find yourself,” she said. “There is a very, very long history of activism and leadership and the resilience and creativity of Jewish women, and we bring these stories out and make them accessible in new ways.”

Another goal of this online-only edition is to incorporate more media elements into the entries. After the first publication of its two thick red volumes in 1997, the encyclopedia has updated past essays with new photographs and videos whenever possible.

The editor Jennifer Sartori explained that another focus of the 60 scholars in the editorial team was to pursue a differentiated approach to sexes, which is supported by the flexibility of the archive to make ongoing changes to its online edition.

“In 1997, when the first edition came out, the word ‘woman’ was taken for granted, but now the concept of gender is being implemented in a much more fluid way,” said Sartori. “We also know that gender identity can change, and that’s part of the challenge. There may be people we are bringing in now who say after years, “I don’t really feel comfortable here anymore,” and luckily this is an online encyclopedia so we can make those changes. “

The edition will also be renamed the Shalvi / Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women to honor Israeli feminist Alice Shalvi; her husband Moshe Shalvi, the late editor of the encyclopedia; and one of its original editors, the late Paula E. Hyman.

JWA began work on the new edition in 2017, following the last update in 2006, which was made available online in 2009. Part of the process included editing 350 existing entries that needed to be updated. In addition to Thursday’s release, the team has a list of over 1,000 items they’re working on, with at least 75 scheduled for rolling this year. The process has taken additional time over the past year and a half due to the pandemic.

“There are some things we probably wanted to add, but many authors had to postpone their deadlines because they couldn’t, or even couldn’t get into the archives or libraries they needed for their research.” Into their offices, their universities, or them took care of home school activities for three children. There were definitely things that were delayed, ”said Sartori.

For Rosenbaum, the issue has a special personal reference – the “Hyman” in the Shalvi / Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women pays homage to her mother.

“I also felt it was part of my mother’s legacy, and at that level, it was very important to me that it remained a relevant resource,” she said.

Here are five of the striker’s favorite entries, all new to the encyclopedia and abbreviated by Rosenbaum and Sartori.

Judy Heumann (* 1947): Lawyer for the rights of the disabled

Judith (Judy) E. Heumann, a founder of the disability rights movement, is known worldwide as the leader of the disability rights community. She was instrumental in the development of disability rights, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Individuals with Education Act and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Disabled. In 1977, she led a 26-day takeover of a federal building in San Francisco. The protest resulted in the implementation of federal law (Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973), a forerunner of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Heumann is co-author with Kristen Joiner of Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist. She can be seen in the award-winning Netflix documentary Crip Camp.

The disability rights activist Judith Heumann.  from the striker

Image from public domain

The disability rights activist Judith Heumann.

Sarah Rodrigues Brandon Moses (1798-1828): multiracial Jewish woman born in Barbados to an enslaved mother and an Ashkenazi Jewish father

The ivory miniatures of Sarah Rodrigues Brandon and her brother Isaac Lopez Brandon (1792-1855) are among the rarest portraits of Jews by the American Jewish Historical Society as they are the earliest known depictions of multiracial American Jews. Today, multiracial Jews make up approximately 12% of the US population. Sarah’s story provides a unique opportunity to better understand the early life of racially ambiguous Jewish women. Jewish women of African ancestry have often faced prejudices from society in general and from European Jews. Ultimately, Sarah triumphed over these prejudices and gained privileges for herself and her children. However, other women were not so lucky and had more difficult lives than second-class citizens.

Kate Bornstein (born 1948): lesbian transgender activist, theorist and performance artist

Katherine (Kate) Vandam Bornstein is a pioneering lesbian transgender activist, theorist, and performance artist. Known for tackling social ills and personal pain with joyous optimism, she claims that “real gender freedom begins with fun!” (Bornstein 2016, 87). This playful style shapes her website and even the title of her memoir, A Queer and Pleasant Danger: The True Story of a Nice Jewish Boy Who Joins the Church of Scientology and Leave 12 Years Later to become the lovely lady she is today (2012).

Kate Bornstein attends a special performance by Dionne Warwick hosted by Saks Fifth Avenue at Le Chalet at L'Avenue at Saks on December 10, 2019 in New York City.  from the striker

By Monica Schipper / Getty Ima …

Kate Bornstein attends a special performance by Dionne Warwick hosted by Saks Fifth Avenue at Le Chalet at L’Avenue at Saks on December 10, 2019 in New York City.

Bernice Sandler (1928-2019): “Godmother of Title IX”

Bernice (Bunny) Sandler was an education professional whose feminist activism led to the passage of Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, federal policy that mandates gender equality in educational institutions that receive federal funding. Sandler first investigated the legality of sex discrimination in education after she was denied an academic post in the late 1960s, and she worked with U.S. lawmakers to create the framework for Title IX. Following the adoption and implementation of Title IX, she continued her groundbreaking work on gender, gender, racial and ethnic equality issues. Sandler theorized the concepts of “cool climates” and “group rape” to describe these problems as structural discrimination against women.

Esther Brandeau | Jacques La Fargue (approx. 1718 -?): A story at the intersection of gender and religion

Esther Brandeau was born in south-west France around 1718 and came from exiles of the Inquisition on the Iberian Peninsula. Interrogation records show that Brandeau died as a Christian and husband across France for five years before setting sail as Jacques La Fargue from La Rochelle, France. Double outed in or on the way to Québec, Brandeau / La Fargue was finally deported from New France, allegedly because she refused to convert to Christianity. Stories of the transition from women to men and from Jews to Christians among Sephardic Jews in Iberia and their diaspora were not uncommon in early modern Europe. The story spread almost exclusively in Canada. Its power lies at the intersection of what and how we (don’t) know, and why and when we tell it.

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